Ambalapuzha Sree Krishna Temple was built by the local ruler Chembakasserry Pooradam Thirunal-Devanarayanan Thampuran in 790 AD. It is located in Alappuzha (Alleppey) district of Kerala in South India. Krishna Temple is famous for its traditional Kerala style of temple architecture and milk porridge called Paal paayasam which is exceptionally sweet. "Aaraattu" festival is celebrated with much fanfare in the temple during the months of March -April when traditional dance performances of "Velakali" and "Pallipana" are done before the massive crowds with full pomp and show.
Legendary poet Kalakkaththu Kunchan Nambiar is supposed to have started the famous Ottamthullal performing art from the precincts of this temple. Ambalapuzha Sree Krishna Temple is dedicated to Parthasarthy deity, which is another name of Lord Krishna. The sanctum sanctorum of the temple has statue of Lord Krishna which is carved out of black granite stone. The idol of Parthasarthy deity in the temple has a whip in right hand and a sacred conch in the left hand.
The legend has it that once Krishna devotee Vilvamangalam Swamy and Mahraja of Travancore Pooradam Thirunal Thampuran were cruising in backwaters at Kuttanad when they heard the melodious sound of flute music. Peering anxiously, Vilvamangalam Swamy saw a bright halo atop a banyan tree which has a silhouette of Bala Murali Krishna that left him awe inspired and spell bound. Later on, Ambalapuzha Sree Krishna temple was established at the same spot by the king as per the wishes of Vilvamangalam Swamy.
There is one more interesting story for the Paal paayasam sweet milk porridge which is served to deities and devotees here daily. The legend has it that once Lord Krishna appeared before the king Pooradam Thirunal Thampuran in the form of a sage and challenged him for the game of chess. Since the king himself was a great chess player he easily accepted the challenge and asked the sage to fix the prize for the winner. The sage said that he was a modest man with few wants and hence he would be happy to have few grains of rice as prize money. However, he put a condition that each square of the chessboard be filled with double the number of rice grains of the previous square. The first square had to have one grain of rice, the second 4, the third 8, the fourth 16 and so on.
The king was confused as to why the sage asked for few grains of rice when he could donate him other luxurious items like gold jewelry. However he agreed to his conditions and needless to say lost the game to the sage. When he started putting the rice grains into chess board, he soon realized that by reaching the 20th square, the number of grains reached to one million and he could never meet the sage's demand even if he donated all rice of his kingdom to the sage as to fill the 64th square, he would require trillions of tons of rice grains.
Finally Lord Krishna revealed himself to the king and asked him that he can pay his debt over a period of time. The king then served Paal paayasam to the deity and devotees each day in Ambalapuzha Sree Krishna Temple and hence the tradition of serving the sweet porridge started from that day.