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Location : Ambalapuzha, Kerala
Main Deity : Lord Krishna
Major attraction : Serving of Palpayasam.
Situated at a distance of 14 kilometers from Alleppey, Ambalapuzha Temple is the famous temple that is devoted to Lord Krishna. Built with typical architecture of the state, this temple will attract you for its picturesque location and sacred rituals that are performed here.
Ambalapuzha Temple is considered as one of the three holy temples that were built to worship Krishna. The ruler Chembakasserry was responsible for its construction in 790 AD. This sacred temple is linked with another Sri Krishna temple called Guruvayoor. When the ruler Tipu Sultan attacked this temple, the idol of the deity was transferred from Guruvayoor to Ambalapuzha.
The idol of the deity is built in black granite and was installed in the premises in early seventeenth century. A festival called Champakulam which is a boat race is celebrated to commemorate this special day. If lucky, you can have a glimpse of the beautiful Dances by Velans (sorcerers) that are performed once in twelve years. The intriguing cultural rituals that are part of almost all the temples of Kerala are also observed at the Ambalapuzha Temple.
Another attraction of the temple is the serving of Palpayasam or the milk porridge to the devotees. You can also visit the nearby place which is Karumadi where an image of Buddha is being installed; it reminds us of Buddhism that flourished at this place in ancient times. You can also enjoy at Alleppey which is renowned for its lovely backwaters. On Independence Day, each year, the festival of Regatta is organized here.
Legend of Payasam :
An interesting legend is associated with the serving of the Payasam in the temple premises. Once, Lord Krishna came to the court of the local king in the disguise of a sage. He asked the king to compete with him in a game of chess,the King accepted his invitation. The prize money was also decided by the sage himself. He requested the king to give him a few grains of rice depending upon the squares of the chess board. For the first square, he was going to get a single grain. For next one, he would be given two grains, for third one, four grains and so on. For every square he had to get double the number of grains than he had acquired in the previous square. Unaware of the price that he would have to pay, the king agreed to the sage's demand.
The King lost the game and when the time of awarding the grains came, the king got perplexed as the number of grains which were to be paid to the sage reached in trillions. These large number of grains could not be paid even if the king donated all the grains of his kingdom to the sage. Seeing the king in dilemma, Krishna came before the king in his real form. In order to relieve the king from his debt, he asked him to start serving the devotees with payasam until his debt was paid.
Human sacrifices were prevalent at Ambalapuzha Temple but are now replaced with cock killing. The tourists can enjoy the colorful festival of Aaraattu which takes place in the month of March and April.
At the temple premises, the idol of the deity Parthasaarathi is installed and is shown to be holding a conch in one hand and a whip in the second one.
A number of hotels and lodges are available at Alappuzha where you can have a comfortable stay.