Paduka is a compound word made up of two words namely, "pada" and "ka". In Sanskrit language, 'Pada' means: "foot" and ‘ka’ is a diminutive ending with literal meaning of "small".
In Rigveda,it is quoted as representing the universe namely the Prithvi (earth),Vayu (air), Akash (sky) and the element of the realm beyond the sky.In the epic Ramayana, King Dasaratha who had a curse on him,sent his son Rama (an incarnation of god Vishnu) for 14 years of exile,at the behest of his wife Kaikeyi (step mother of Rama) as she wanted her son Bharata to be crowned as the king.Rama, his consort Sita and brother Laksmana went into a forest to spend their period of exile.But Bharata did not want to have the kingdom.He, therefore, met Rama who was living in the forest and beseeched him to return to Ayodhya. When Rama told Bharata that he will return only after completing his fourteen years in the forest,Bharata requested for Rama's paduka to serve as his proxy,to be crowned in Ayodhya Raj Singhasan (King's throne) of Kosala country and to serve as an object of veneration for Rama's followers.Bharata carried Rama's golden sandals (padukas) with great reverence by placing them on his head as a mark of his obedience to his elder brother.Bharata ruled Kosala as Rama's proxy in the name of "Ram's Padukas"
Paduka also means foot prints of Hindu gods such as Vishnu, Shiva and several saints and masters that are worshipped in this symbolic form in houses and also in temples built for this purpose. One such temple is the Gaya temple dedicated to Vishnupada or Vishnu's feet. Similarly, Buddha's foot prints are worshipped under the Bodhi tree in Bodh Gaya.