Now Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple is the world’s richest Hindu temple. As of now, the Balaji temple in Tirupati in Andhra Pradesh is believed to be the richest temple in the country, followed by Shirdi Sai Baba shrine in Maharashtra.
A vast treasure trove of gold coins, jewels and precious stones were unearthed at a Hindu temple in Trivandrum, India. The opening of four vaults reveals a vast bounty that unofficial estimates at 22 billion US dollars (1,00,000 Crores).
16th-century Anantha Padmanabhaswamy temple is located in Trivandrum, capital of India’s southern Kerala state. The discovery has instantly turned the 16th-century Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple into one of the wealthiest religious institutions in the country.
The treasures unearthed so far include statues of gods and goddesses made of solid gold and studded with diamonds, rubies and emeralds, crowns and necklaces, all given as gifts to the temple over the centuries.
The $22 billion figure is double India’s 2011-2012 education budget. The vaults were opened for inspection after a local activist filed a case that reached the Supreme Court alleging the temple’s authorities were not properly tending to the site’s security. And now some in the traditionally leftist state of Kerala where the temple is located are calling for the hoard to be handed over to the government in order to be dispensed in the public interest.
Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple History:
The Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple has been around for nearly a millennia, but gained its real luster by the 18th century, when it was patronized by the powerful monarchs of the local state of Travancore. Not long after decisively defeating a Dutch army in the 1741 Battle of Colachel, Marthanda Varma, king of Travancore, set about building the towering structure that defines Sree Padmanabhaswamy to this day and dubbed himself and all those in his lineage servants of Padmanabha, another name for the Hindu god Vishnu. Ever since, the prestige of the temple and Travancore’s royal dynasty has been entwined, the latter deriving a fair amount of symbolic power from their connection to the former.
After Indian independence in 1947 and the dissolution of its many semi-independent princely states, it’s suspected that much of the royal dynasty’s considerable wealth was funneled into the temple and that, combined with decades of accumulated donations, has created this extraordinary treasure trove. The descendants of the house of Travancore still supervise the trust that administers Sree Padmanabhaswamy temple, but, unlike some of India’s other disparate (and defunct) royal families, appear to have been rather careful about their bequest, keeping it in the dark and under lock and key for decades.
That fastidiousness will likely dampen whatever political flames are sure to spark after this treasure’s unearthing. In India, home to virtually all the world’s religions, contests over holy sites are always hot-button issues, and often sadly a matter of life and death. Some among the country’s Hindu far-right still invoke in present political discourse the 11th century sacking of the great (and wealthy) temple at Somnath in western India by Muslim invaders, among other historical grievances. But it’s unlikely the hoard at Sree Padmanabhaswamy will be carted off — though one can only hope that both state and temple authorities find a means to bring such reportedly exquisite treasures safely to light, for all to see.