Lord Balarama or Balabhadra is the eighth avatara(incarnation) of Vishnu.He is also known as Halayudha. Balarama is described as being physically very strong, in fact 'bala' in Sanskrit refers to 'strength'. Balarama is the elder brother of Lord Krishna. Also he is acknowledged as a manifestation of Anantha or Adishesha, the divine serpent on whom Vishnu rests.
Balarama took birth as the son of Vasudeva and Devaki. Kamsa, the brother of Devaki and an evil king, was intent upon killing all the progeny of his sister because of a prediction that he would die at the hands of her eighth son. Kamsa thus threw his sister Devaki and her husband Vasudeva into prison, and proceeded to kill each of their children as soon as they were born.
In due course of time, Devaki became pregnant for the seventh time. However, this child was not destined to meet the fate of the six previous infants. The unborn child was miraculously transferred from Devaki's womb to the womb of Rohini, who had desired a child of her own. Thus Balarama's other name is also Sankarsana which describes the transfer of the child from the womb. The child was formally named Rama, but because of his great strength he was called Balarama (Strong Rama).
Thus, Rohini actually gave birth to Balarama and raised him. Balarama spent his childhood as a cowherd boy with his brother Krishna and friends. He later married Revati, the daughter of King Raivata, ruler of the Anarta province.
Balarama taught both Duryodhana of the Kauravas and Bhima of the Pandavas the art of fighting with a Gadha(mace). When war broke between the Kauravas and the Pandavas, Balarama was equally affectionate to both parties and so decided to be neutral. Eventually when Bhima (of greater strength) defeated Duryodhana (of greater skill) by dealing a blow below the navel with his mace, Balarama threatened to kill Bhima. This was only prevented when Krishna reminded Balarama of Bhima's vow to kill Duryodhana by crushing the very thigh he exposed to his wife Draupadi.
In the Bhagavata Purana it is described that after Balarama took part in the battle that caused the destruction of the rest of the Yadu dynasty, and after he witnessed the disappearance of Krishna, he then sat down in a meditative state and departed from this world by producing a great white snake from his mouth, and thus he was carried by Sesha in the form of a serpent.
Balarama Temples in Kerala
Puthukkulangara Srikrishna Balarama Temple
Puthukkulangara Sreekrishna Balarama Swami Temple is located at a distance of 150 meters from the south gopuram of Kumaranalloor Devi temple in Kottayam district. There are seperate sreekovils for Balarama and Krishna too. Balarama shrine is rectangular in shape and Krishna shrine is in circular shape. These temples were renovated by local people in 2006 - 2007. Ashtamirohini in Chingam (August-September) and Balarama Jayanthi or Akshaya Tritiya in Medam (April) are the main festivals. The dwaja prathishta for both dieties were conducted in 2010.
Aluva Srikrishna Balarama Temple
Mazhoor Balarama Temple
Nenmini Balarama Temple
Balarama Shrine in Aranmula Parthasarathy Temple