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Title: Ambalappuzha  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
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Subject: Alappuzha district, Alappuzha, Tiruvalla, Kayamkulam, Chengannur
Collection: Cities and Towns in Alappuzha District, Places in Alappuzha District
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Ambalappuzha Sri Krishna Temple
Ambalappuzha is located in Kerala
Location in Kerala, India
Country  India
State Kerala
Region Central Travancore
District Alappuzha
 • Panchayath President Smt. Sathi S Nath
Population (2011)
 • Total 22,593
 • Rank 2nd in the district
 • Density 1,866/km2 (4,830/sq mi)
 • Official Malayalam, English
Time zone IST (UTC+5:30)
PIN 688561
Vehicle registration KL-04
Literacy 92%
Lok Sabha constituency Alappuzha
Vidhan Sabha constituency Ambalappuzha
Climate Moderate (Köppen)
Website //ambalapuzhasouthpanchayat.inlsgkerala

Ambalappuzha is a small town in the Alappuzha district of Kerala state, south India. The town is noted for its Ambalappuzha Sri Krishna Temple, one of the three important Sri Krishna temples in the state of Kerala.

Ambalapuzha is divided into the two panchayats of Ambalapuzha North and Ambalapuzha South.


  • History 1
  • Geography 2
  • Ambalappuzha Sri Krishna Temple 3
  • Ambanattu Panikkar Varavu 4
  • Legend of the Ambalappuzha Paal Paayasam 5
  • Politics 6
  • References 7
  • External links 8


The headquarters of the historic Chempakasseri Ambalapuzha rajahs were near the temple. Ambalappuzha remained an independent principality under the Chempakasseris until the mid-18th century when it was conquered and absorbed by the Kingdom of Travancore under Marthanda Varma (1706–1758).[1] Thereafter, the Chempakasseri royal family went into decline.[2]


Ambalapuzha is a coastal town, near National Highway 47, about 13 kilometres (8.1 mi) south of Allepey. The Sree Krishna Temple is located 1.5 kilometres (0.93 mi) east of the town junction.

Ambalappuzha Sri Krishna Temple

The Ambalappuzha Sri Krishna Temple is believed to have been built in 790 M.E by the local ruler Chembakasserry Pooradam Thirunal-Devanarayanan Thampuran.[2]

This temple is directly associated to the Guruvayoor Sri Krishna Temple. During raids by Tipu Sultan in 1789, the idol of Sri Krishna from the Guruvayoor Temple (guruvayoor appan) was brought to the Ambalappuzha Temple for safe keeping.

The payasam served at the Ambalappuzha Temple is widely known among Hindu devotees. This sweet pudding made of rice and milk has an interesting mythological legend behind it.[3]

An idol of Sri Krishna, The Lord Parthasarathy idol was installed in the temple.

The Aarattu festival commences with the flag hoisting ceremony on the Atham star in Meenam (March–April). The important Aarattu festival takes place on the Thiruvonam day of the same month. The aarattu ezhunnullathu starts from Erattakulangara Mahadeva Temple (one of the west-facing Shiva temples).

In this temple 'Pallipana' is performed by velans or sorcerers once every twelve years. Human sacrifice was conducted in ancient times, but cocks have now replaced humans on the sacrificial altar.[4]

Kalakkaththu Kunchan Nambiar (1705–1770) also spent his youth at Ambalappuzha.

Ambanattu Panikkar Varavu

This is a ceremonial procession by members of the Ambanattu Panikkar family who bring pots of honey as ritual offerings to the deity at Sree Krishna Swamy Temple, Ambalapuzha. [3][5] The land where the temple was built belonged to a rich Ezhava landlord and kalari asaan Ambanattu Panikker. While the rajah of Ambalapuzha dynasty and Vilwamangalathu Swamiyar were going through the waterways, it so happened that they could hear a luscious sound of flute coming from a nearby huge and luxuriant peepel tree. To his astonishment Swamiyar saw Sri Krishna sitting on a branch of the peepel tree playing his flute and suddenly disappeared.

Legend of the Ambalappuzha Paal Paayasam

According to the legend, Lord Krishna once appeared in the form of a sage in the court of the king who ruled the region and challenged him for a game of chess (or chaturanga). Being a chess enthusiast himself, the king gladly accepted the invitation. The prize had to be decided before the game and the king asked the sage to choose his prize in case he won. The sage told the king that he had a very modest claim and being a man of few material needs, all he wished was a few grains of rice. The amount of rice itself would be determined using the chess-board in the following manner: one grain of rice would be placed in the first square, two grains in the second square, four in the third square, eight in the fourth square, and so on. Every square would have double the number of grains of its predecessor.

Upon hearing the demand, the king was unhappy, since the sage requested only a few grains of rice instead of other riches from the kingdom, which the king would have been happy to donate. He requested the sage to add other items to his prize, but the sage declined.

So the game of chess started and, needless to say, the king lost the game. It was time to pay the sage his agreed-upon prize. As he started adding grains of rice to the chess board, the king soon realised the true nature of the sage's demands. By the 20th square, the number had reached one million grains of rice, and by the 40th square it had become one trillion. The royal granary soon ran out of grains of rice. The king realised that even if he provided all the rice in his kingdom and his adjacent kingdoms, he would never be able to fulfill the promised reward. The number of grains increased in a geometric progression, and the total amount of rice required to fill a 64-square chess board is 264−1, which is equal to 18,446,744,073,709,551,615 grains (about 18×1018, or 18 billion billion grains). This amount of rice would weigh about 460×1012 kg, or 460 Pg (petagrams), or 460 billion tonnes (assuming that 1,000 grains of rice weigh about 25g). This amount of rice would also cover the surface of India two meters deep.

Upon seeing the dilemma, the sage appeared to the king in his true form, that of Lord Krishna. He told the king that he did not have to pay the debt immediately but could pay him over time. The king would serve paal-payasam (made of rice) in the temple freely to the pilgrims every day until the debt was paid off.

  • Ambalapuzha Velakali

Velakali is a group dance held in the open air as an exhibition of the martial feats in front of the raja (king) of Ambalapuzha (erstwhile Chempakassery), who wanted to see how his soldiers had performed in the wars. This show meant to be witnessed by the deity of the temple which is taken out in procession to the courtyard of the temple on a caparisoned elephant. The play consist of a procession in the beginning in which, the dancers walk in line through the village road holding the sword made of rattan in the right-hand and a shield in the left. They move elegantly keeping their pace to the rhythm followed by a hilarious group of villagers encouraging the dancers by jumping and singing and waving small colourful flags. By dusk 'Kulathil vela' or the play on the bank of the tank commences. The dancers take their position on the bank of the temple tank and with weapons in their hands start the play moving their bodies. Their movements get reflected in the water probably reminding one of the war in the sea or rivers. On the other side of the tank the caparisoned elephant with the deity takes position. The dancers do not change their position but exhibit only the swaying of their bodies to the rhythm of Velappara, the main percussion instrument. Then the dancers disperse to assemble again in the southern quadrangle of the temple to start the regular exhibition of the feats. There the deity appears on the elephant. By about 8 p.m. 'Tirumunpil vela' or the play before the divine presence of the deity, start.

Now "Ambalapuzha Velakali" is performed every year inside the temple premise during the March–April 10 festival days(malayalam:Ulsavam) except on the first and last days.

Gandharvan were placed in the family house of Valiamadom and they are worshipped here with poojas and the annually performed Kalamezhuthum Paatum.

Panicker was given the tiltle Koyma (supreme authority) of the Srikrishna temple by the king. A male member of the Valiamadom family has to be present for all the important and auspicious functions held in Srikrishna temple.


Ambalapuzha assembly constituency is part of Alappuzha (Lok Sabha constituency).[6]


  1. ^ Sarat Chandra Roy (Ral Bahadur) (1986). Man in India. A. K. Bose. p. 323. 
  2. ^ a b [4]
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^ "Temples/Temple Legends connected with Mahabharata". Archived from the original on 2009-10-25. 
  6. ^ "Assembly Constituencies - Corresponding Districts and Parliamentary Constituencies" (PDF). Kerala. Election Commission of India. Archived (PDF) from the original on 30 October 2008. Retrieved 2008-10-20. 

External links

  • Temples and Legends of KeralaAmbalapuzha Temple from the book:
  • Chengannur Mahadeva/Devi Temple
  • Chettikulangara Devi Temple, Mavelikkara
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