Jainism was the first organized religion to reach Kerala. During the reign of Emperor Chandragupta Maurya (321-297 BC) the Jain saint Bhadrabahu is believed to have brought the religion to Kerala. Several Hindu temples, like the Koodalmanickam temple, are considered to have originally been Jain shrines. Jainism is supposed to have flourished till about 500 AD
Next came Buddhism, introduced by the missionaries of Emperor Ashoka. Buddhism flourished in Kerala from 200 BC till around 800 AD. Vadakkunathan temple at Thrissur and several others were reportedly Buddhist shrines. The Hindu community of Ezhavas, believed to have been Buddhists who migrated from Ezham (Sri Lanka), still show the influence of Buddhism.