A well-known abode of Lord Krishna in Kerala. Here, Krishna is conceived as a lad (Unni kanna in Malayalam) as is in Guruvayoor temple.
Legend is that when the Brahmin King of Ambalapuzha was traveling along with Sri. Vilvamangalathu Swamiyar-an ardent devotee of Lord Krishna and a scholar they heard the music emanating from a peepal tree at a distance. Sri Vilwamangalam immediately realized the presence of Lord Krishna on the peepal tree and asked the King to build a temple to Lord Krishna at the spot.
Ambalapuzha palpayasam ( ‘’payasam’’ means porridge made out of Rice, ‘’pal’’ means milk in Malayalam) offered to Lord Krishna is famous all around Kerala. There is an interesting legend behind this Niveydyam.
The Ambalapuzha King was a fan of the game of chess (Chaturangam.) One day, Lord Krishna came to the palace in disguise as a Sanyasi and wished to play chess with the King. The King was more than happy. , He asked offered anything if the Sanyasi defeats the King in the game. The Sanyasi humbly asked the King few grains of rice on his victory, calculated in such a way that one grain for the first square of the chess, then two for the second square, then four for third square, then 8 for the fourth square, and so on until the 64 squares of the chess board is filled with grain rice in this pattern.
The King readily agreed, thinking that he being the King of Kuttanadu (known as the granary of Kerala) the demand can easily be met. The game started; needless to say the King was defeated in the game as his opponent was Lord Krishna himself!
On his defeat, the King started to pay his fine. Only then he realized the real meaning of Sanyasi’s demand. As the geometric progression of the number of grains into 64 squares of the chess ran into many thousand tons of rice, which is beyond the capacity of the King, the King failed to meet his promise. He prayed to Lord Krishna for a solution.
The Lord appeared on his dream; told the King about what happened. He allowed to pay back the debt in installment by way of Palpayasam Nivedyam at this temple. The practice still continues.
Ambalapuzha Aaratu, in the month of Meenam (March-April), is the main festival. Velakali- a unique martial art of the region is the main attraction of this festival. The famous Champakulam boat race is held to commemorate the ‘’Prathishta’’ divas (installation day of the idol) every year.
The famous poet Sri Kunchan Nambiar gave birth to ‘Ottamthullal’- a popular art form of Kerala at this temple.
Ambalapuzha is about 40 Kilometers from Alapuzha.