Serene Ambalappuzha Sri Krishna Temple, Kerala - famous for sweet porridge (palpayassam)

Ambalappuzha Sree Krishna Temple
Ambalappuzha Sree Krishna
Ambalappuzha Sree Krishna Temple, one among the famous Sri Krishna temples in Kerala, is 14 km south of Alappuzha,  and  is often referred to as the 'Dwaraka of the South'.  Built by the erstwhile ruler of Chembakasserry Sree Pooradam Thirunal Devanarayanan Thampuran during 15th - 17th AD, it is believed, that the idol of Sree Krishna of Guruvayoor Temple was brought here for safekeeping during the war expedition of  Tipu Sultan of Mysore in 1789.  The temple is also famous for its unique prasadam (offering to god), the delicious Ambalapuzha Palpayasam – a sweet mouth-watering porridge made from rice, milk, and sugar.  Here, Lord Krishna  goes by the  name of  Unnikannan (child Krishna). 

The presiding deity is in the form of Parthasarathy – an aspect of Lord Krishna  who was a charioteer for Arjuna in the  great Kurushetra war. The idol of Krishna is made of black granite with right  hand holding a whip iand a conch in the left. 

About the palpayassam, there is an interesting  legend behind it. Once God Krishna, in the guise of a sage, challenged the local king for a game of chess ( Dhayam /chaturanga) in the court. The ruler, being an expert, agreed to the challenge. About the prize, the self-contended sage made a modest  request -  a few grains of rice to be be determined as follows using the chess-board: One grain of rice shall be placed in the first square, two grains in the second square, four in the third square, eight in the fourth square, sixteen in 5th square and so on. Every square will have double of its predecessor. King, having lost the game, wanted to stick to his word and then realized the true nature of the demand. As the number of grains was increasing in a geometric progression and the total amount of rice required for a 64-squared chess board is 18,446,744,073,709,551,615 translating to trillions of tons of rice, the king realized his futile attempt to meet the demand of the sage. Sri Krishna appeared before the ruler who was in a precarious position  and asked him to serve paal-payasam in the temple freely to the visiting pilgrims every day and this way his debt would be cleared for good.  

As for the the origin of this temple, legend has it that while Pooradam Thirunal Thampuran and Saint Vilwamangalam Swamiyar (saint)  were  travelling along the backwaters they  heard a soul-stirring melodious  flute music floating in the breeze. Vilwamangalam Swamiyar, a true devotee of Sri Krishna,  fell into a reverie in which he saw the lord playing flute on a Peepul tree. Feeling the presence of divinity there Thampuran  had a temple for Sri Krishna built at this serene place.

The popular festival is Ambalapuzha Arattu - a 10 day festival held  during the Malayalam month of Meenam (March - April).  A unique martial dance form is performed during  this time and it is called  Velakali.  The festival called  Ambalapuzha Moolakazhcha  held  during the Malayalam month of Mithunam on the Moolam asterism (Mool Nakshatra)  also draws lots of devotees.

An interesting fact about this temple is its close association with the famous performing art form of Kerala – Ottamthullal. It was first introduced here by the legendary Malayalam poet Kalakkaththu Kunchan Nambiar  and was played on the Ambalappuzha Temple premises. The Mizhavu (a big copper drum used as a percussion instrument in performing arts) used by Kunjan Nambiar is still preserved in an enclosure in the temple.

The popular Champakulam  Snake Boat Race is held on the Prathista day (idol installation day) of Ambalapuzha Sree Krishnan idol in the temple. 

The Amabalapuzha Temple Festival has been around since  15th  AD.  That point of time  Travancore was ruled by the Chembakassery Devanarayana Dynasty. whose  members were highly religious.They wanted   idol of Lord Krishna  to be brought to the Amabalapuzha Sree Krishna Swamy Temple from the Karinkulam temple. The celebration related to the bringing of this idol of Lord Krishna is the origin of the Amabalapuzha Temple Festival, also referred to as the Chambakulam Moolam water festival. This festival is held every year on the Moolam day of the Mithunam month of the Malayalam era. The Aaraattu festival takes place on the Thiruvonam day in March–April.

recovered temple jewels,Sri krishna temple
On 17 April 2017 robbery took place at this temple, A necklace of 11.5 sovereign, worn by god on certain occasions,which is a part of ‘Thiruvabharanam’, the sacred jewellery of the deity was stolen. Following May 2017, it was recovered but the chain and locket were  found separated. But the robber had sold the precious stone on the locket. This temple has a history of such incidents. A decade ago,   a precious  accessory on the  500-year-old golden umbrella weighing over 400 sovereigns had disappeared.   That incident came to light after the devaswom officials draped the rib of the umbrella with rag to cover up the missing of the ornaments. The Travancore Devaswom Board ended the investigation after concluding that  the ornament had ‘worn off.’  A lady   administrative officer was found guilty. However, the case was put in the cold storage. In August, 2010,  a division bench of Kerala High Court  came down heavily on the tainted officials holding key post.  Such gold ornaments are taken out on festival days. The officials still have no clue about the whereabouts of the missing golden accessory.