Sree Padmanabha Swamy temple, Kerala the richest one in the world facing financial crunch!!

Padmanabha Swamy Temple,TV Puram

Can you ever imagine that the richest Hindu temple in the world with a huge asset base worth over Rs one lakh crore  (the antique value is not taken into account) in the form of  gold, silver and diamonds had unprecedented financial crisis and sought the help of the Kerala Government last June to get over the financial mess?  The temple wanted a soft loan to meet the initial financial commitments.  

Sree Padmanabha Swamy temple treasures, India.

Located in the prime area of the capital city Sree Padmanabhaswamy is  the tutelary deity of the royal family of Travancore, one of the richly cultured royal families in India. First king Marthanda Varma (1729-1758) donated the entire riches and surrendered to  Lord Padmanabha  after a war with Dutch colonial forces in Kolachhal (Tamil Nadu now). Since then  the ruler until travancore joined the indian union had ruled the land as God's  dasa (servant). It was he who renovated the temple and had a huge idol - 18 ft tall made of  12,008 Salagrama stones from banks of Nepal’s Gandhaki river. The  stones were  strung together using unique Ayurveda mix.Here Sri Vishnu is in a reclining posture on the coiled bed of Adi Shesha, the serpent.  

Since Covid pandemic, the temple's earnings had come down and the state government sanctioned a loan of Rs 2 crore to be returned  in an year's time,  Moolam Thirunal Rama Varma, of the royal family  is the trustee of the temple. With about 200 employees-  both permanent and temporary, besides pensioners the huge temple before the pandemic had spent roughly  Rs one crore to run the administration  with a decent revenue it was able to manage.  After  the advent of COVID-19 pandemic things went awry. Hence the temple authorities knocked on the doors of the state government for financial help.

Temple officials  are worried that they  monthly need  Rs1.50 crore for maintenance, salary of the staff, etc. The richest temple is in a financial mess because the temple's gold, silver, diamond jewelry, coins, idols, etc can not be sold and converted into cash. Nor can they  be shifted from the several underground vault and deposited with  the central government ie. Reserve Bank of India. 'As it is god's wealth, it should not be touched'

To a few experts who examined the vast treasures in the vault,  'it was like being in a different world - may be reminiscent of the mythical city of Eldorado.  Nether guarded by Griffin nor by mischievous Leprechauns,  presently the treasures are continuously being monitored by 250 commandos around the temple. It also , included  underground scanners, CCTVs and bollards which were erected around the temple to tighten security. Thanks to the state government which said in the recent past  that the temple had to meet its security bill as it was  already cash-strapped.  The Union government came to the rescue and allocated Rs. 100 crore to develop infrastructure around the temple under Swadesh Darshan program.  

First brought to light  after  opening of the A vault on June 27, 2011 following the SC directive, the underground treasures made the    Sree Padmanabhaswamy temple the richest one  in the world.  The six vaults were  code named  “A to F.” Among these,E & F  are opened regularly for daily poojas and C & D  for occasional festivals according to the temple staff.  A and B are considered secret and sacred ; though A was opened  under Court order B vault is not yet opened as of today for certain reasons.

Padmanabaha Swami temple Kerala, Vault B not yet opened

Though all opened vaults were  examined, tagged and valued,  the details were  not given to the public for reasons of security.  So the exact official estimate  of the treasures in  the subterranean vaults is not yet known, It could be more than one lakh crore plus antique value has to be added to it.  B vault, it is said, may contain a bigger lot of treasures than A. 

A section of communist members of the ruling party wanted the staggering and mind-boggling  treasures to be used for people's welfare programs. Others wanted the treasures to be showcased  in a well-guarded museum and the revenue could be used for other  government programs.  It may get them good revenue but they will be bogged down by security problems. The museum will need  foolproof security in every aspect as many museums world over face theft, pilferage, etc. 
A  large section of devotees and right-wing supporters, oppose the idea of taking out the treasures from the historical temple. The items in the treasure trove of the temple are objects of adoration in a venerated and sanctified place and being Hindu temple's  wealth accumulated over centuries, they are  not  meant for display in a public place. Nor are they just ordinary showpieces  to be taken out on tour  to run an exhibition  showcasing the wealth and culture of Kerala.  

Laying hands on the  temple wealth for developmental activities is not a good proposition and is fraught with problems. The Left front government led by the communist party, without any hesitation, received  ₹10 crore from the Guruvayur temple for the CM’s relief fund, but the HC forced the govt.  to return it to the temple. Revenue from the temple is meant for the temple and its upkeep, etc.  

As for Padmanabhaswamy temple majority of of devotees strongly believe that the temple wealth has remained intact this far because of  Travancore royal family's commitment, devotion and trust in God - Vishnu  who is actually the ruler of this state.   Aditya Varma, erstwhile Travancore royal family member is of the opinion,  “It is God’s wealth. Let it remain with the presiding deity,”