Showing posts with label Sri Padmanabha temple. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Sri Padmanabha temple. Show all posts

Tuesday, July 12, 2011


The News reports say that devotees to the Sri Padmanabha Swamy temple of Thiruvananthapuram have swelled ten fold since the discoveery of treasure in the temple cellars. Several battalions of police are guarding the temple which is a sight normally not found in the temples of Kerala.  The news of the find got worldwide attention.

Presently an inventory of the contents in the five of the total six underground cellars is made and to get the full extent of  wealth in the temple, the unopened 6th cellar's contents have also to be reckoned and the entire gold and precious stones got evaluated by expert appraisers. In addition to the market value they have historical and antique value too.  The total valuation figure may run into many billions more than what is now calculated  The present rough estimate is $ 22 to 25 Billion .

Mainly four types of valuables were reported to have been found there. 1 Vessels.  Golden Vessels for Pooja (the rituals related to daily worship to the daiety) and big golden pots numbering  several hundreds and other big and small golden containers.
 2   Gold ornaments  including two gold crowns encrusted with precious  stones,  gold chains big and small of umpteen variety some with a length of 18 feet and gold chains with stones encrusted
 3   Precious stones of priceless quality.
4   Other valuable objects of historical and antique value which includes a big Vishnu idol made in gold weighing several Kilograms.

In fact an accurate evaluation is not possible for them because many of them are simply priceless.
Justice Rajan one of the Panel Members who inspected the temple cellars explained his experience as such:
" The secret cellars were like a dream world, unbelievable and unexplainable.Huge stones,which a team of eight strong men had to struggle to remove,had been placed well to conceal the cells. The cells were small. They could accomodate four-five persons. The invaluable treasure,gold,Gems,stones-offered to the Daiety by the Travancore Royalty from time to time had been kept in teak-wood boxes stacked one over the other. Whenever the Kings or their friends or other Kings had 'Darshan' of the Lord, they used to offer gold coins; one Lakh such coins have been found."

The 6th cellar has not been opened yet. The Royal family had cautioned against the opening of that cellar, classified as 'B' which is the most fortified of all the cellars and is presumed to contain hitherto unseen volume of priceless wealth. The metal doors are thick and strong and it has complex locking system andopening procedures which no one clearly knows.

The royalty said that it was inauspicious to open it especially in the presence of an engraving of  hooded snakes on its doors which is considered a warning for those who try opening it, possibly a curse. The question of opening the cellar has been kept in abeyance until after appraising all other valuables so far found.
In fact all parties involved are a little scared of opening it fearing the mysterious consequences.

The local people knew that there were valuable ornaments kept  inside the underground cellars. A local advocate named Sundar Rajan filed a petition in the Kerala High court  requesting orders to  take over the Sri Padmanabha Swamy temple by the Kerala Government  from the Royal family as there  were not adequate security personnel  and only Government could guard the temple effectively. The High court allowed the petition and ordered to take over the temple by the Government

The Royal family filed an appeal in the Supreme court against the High court order . The court as a first step decided to know the extent of riches stored in the temple in order to pass judgement on security aspect and appointed a seven member panel to inspect the cellars and take inventory of the contents. That was the reason to open the cellars now.

On opening the strong, granite cellars no one was prepared for the immense treasures found in them and it was a big surprise for everybody except, perhaps, for the Royal family who must have records of what the contents are in the temple cellars.

The panel submitted an interim report  of their find inside the cellars (except the B cellar) on which the Court ordered  to do an accurate appraisal of valuables by using all modern methods and it also ordered to beef up security vigil round the clock. As such the temple is under high security now.

The exact period  of construction of this temple is controversial. There are references of this temple in the manuscripts of 5th century. The old temple was renovated into the present day sprawling structure in the 16th century by Raja Marthanda Varma.
Of all the Kings that ruled the Travancore kingdom ( a small region at first) King Marthanda varma Anizham Thirunal Maharajah was the most powerful. He ruled the princely state from 1706 to 1758. It was his highness who expanded the province to what is now called Travancore  and made it a rich state.   Marthanda varma conquered the Maharajas who ruled the nearby provinces  and annexed their regions with the Travancore state. He also liberated the Sri Padmanabha swamy temple from the evil chieftains who administered the temple then.  It was the golden period of Travancore. The state got bigger and richer under his rule.

After the war, in the year 1750  King Marthanda Varma  made a noble gesture. He pledged before the Lord Sri.Padmanabha Swamy that he and his descendents would serve the Kingdom as servants of the Lord and surrendered all his wealth including himself and the country to  the Lord. He also ordered the 21 gun salute given to the king by the British Monarchy to be made henceforth to the Lord Padmanabha Swamy instead of to the King .The king just managed the affairs of Sri Padmanabha Swamy as his servant.

Raja Marthanda  Varma had amassed wealth when the kings whom he defeated in the war pledged gold and precious stones  before him as customary then. The wealth now found out in the cellars include those which Marthanda Varma got from the Kings.

The Kings who ruled the Travancore since Raja Marthanda Varma were all humble and God-fearing and none had the traits neither to squander away the wealth nor appropriate them for their own good which is the reason for finding such enormous treasure in tact in the temple cellars.

When  Tippu Sultan, a ferocious King of Mysore, invaded  Malabar province, Dharma Raja,  the King of Travancore then, feared that he would attack Travancore  also and loot the wealth.  It was then the treasure was transferred to more secure granite cellars in the temple from the palace. However Tippu did not invade Travancore. A point to be noted here is that even after the threat of an attack by Tippu faded off the King nor His descendants did not bother to bring  the treasure back into the Palace vaults. The treasures were kept afterwards in the temple itself.

If Tippu had invaded Travancore the story would have been different.

It is not clear why Raja Marthanda Varma surrendered everything to the Lord. One thought is that it was to prevent attacks from other kings as they would not dare attack the Lord Himself  since the country was in His name.
Perhaps, he must have had  experiences of Lord's grace and timely intervention during the trauma of his long war in order to prompt him to surrender all wealth for Him. Or he might have got dejected upon the human tragedies found in the War, just like the Emperor Ashoka who turned out as a Budhist Monk after his long and bloody war with various kings, and surrendered all for the God in saintly disenchantment.

True to the pledge, ever since the time of Raja Marthanda varma, the Royal family of Travancore considered themselves as the servants of Lord Sri Padmanabha and acted as simple Managers of the properties. The family members are so ardent in the safekeeping of Lord's property that they dust their feet when they come out of the temple after prayers, lest some grains of mud belonged to the temple carried away inadvertently.

During the argument of the case, Uthradom Thirunal Marthanda Varma Raja, present Head of the Royal family and an highly respected personality in and outside Kerala, categorically  stated before the supreme court that the Royal Family want no part of the property and that the riches belonged to Sri Padmanabhan and Sri Padmanabhan alone.

The Royal family resides not far off from the Padmanabha Swamy temple  in the Kowdiar Palace.  There are several other Palaces in and around Thiruvananthpuram city,  (capital of Kerala)   built for various reasons on different occasions.

The family could have taken whole or part of the present find if they so desired. There were ample opportunities for it and ardent believers of  Lord Sri. Padmanabha  Swamy as they are, they would not even think of  doing such an act.  In fact, no family in the  human history must have had sacrificed as much wealth for a cause  as the Travancore Royalty.

ADDENDUM ; Advocate  Sri. T.P.Sunder Rajan Iyengar,( 70 ) who initiated the court case which culminated in the opening of the cellars of Sri Padmanabha Swamy temple died on Sunday 17th this month. He had high fever and refused to go to Hospital A devotee of Sri Padmanabha Swamy, he was staying close to the temple. His family said that they would pursue the court case.  Sri Iyengar was a Senior central Govt officer in the Intelligence Bureau and was also an advocate.  He was unmarried.

Latest:   The team appointed by the Supreme court is evaluating the treasure contained in the cellar A at present which it self may take months on end to finish as opening this cellar last time made the world know the enormity of the treasure preserved in the temple. There are rare diamonds and stones with ancient unknown styles of cutting and countless coins, idols and vessels (all Gold). The diamond experts are at a loss to evaluate stones as they have not come across with such precious stones of extra-ordinary cuttings.

This time the media is not giving all that publicity to the evaluation work possibly on security considerations and it is also a relief to the team to be away from pestering  press reporters.

Image courtesy : wiki. Google