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Krishnadevaraya built this temple in 1513 A.D. to commemorate his victory over Prataparudra Gajapati, the ruler of Orissa.
During the battle he seized an image of child Krishna and brought it to Vijayanagara as war trophy. An inscription describing the conquest and the consecration of this temple by Krishnadevaraya is found on a slab in front of this temple.
Built in the centre of a courtyard, the temple possesses a sanctum, an antechamber, an ardha mantapa, a circumambulatory passage, a pillared hall with three entrances and an open pillared mantapa, in addition to a number of other shrines for the attendant deities.
Main altar of the temple is dedicated to Bala Krishna and it is one of the few temples where stories of Puranas were carved on the walls of the temple and its main tower.
Other notable image is murti of Bala Krishna worshiped by Madhvacharya in his Sri Krishna Matha of Udupi. Its believed the form was transported by sea from Dwarka .
Legend has it that this was the very same murti which wife of Krishna, Rukmini, had worshipped. Liberation from the world of matter requered grace and dependence on God and active devotion, such as worshipping the Lord in the form of an icon (murti).
Madhva placed such an icon of Bala Krishna in his monastery in Udipi where it remains to be seen by pilgrims to this day.
Ever since the image was installed, Udupi has been steadily gaining in importance as a centre of pilgrimage.
It is believed Madhvacharya saved drifting ship, from which he received in gratitude two large balls of chandan clay used as a ballast. To the amazement of all in each there was confined a deity form, one of Krishna and one of Balarama, the deity of Krishna with a churner in his hand was called Bala Krishna and was installed in the main Udupi shrine.
The sacred lamps at this statue of Bala Krishna recovered from the sea in 14th century were lit by Madhvacharya himself and are being kept burning as a part of the ritual continuously, and that is for the last 700 years.
The carvings in the pillared hall are especially spectacular with the Yalis (the mythical lion) on the pillars. The inner sides of the entrance exhibit beautifully sculptured Apsaras. The entrances to the temple hall flanked with impressive carvings of elephant balustrades. The carvings of the 10 incarnations of Lord Vishnu can also be seen in this temple.