Sri Padmanabhaswamy temple in Kerala hogging the limelight with the multi-crore treasure haul, Kerala lived up to its name as 'Gods' own country'. With the estimated Rs 1 lakh crore worth of wealth that was found to be kept under underground stone cellars, the matter has raised eyebrows of believers and others across the world.
But if Rs 1 lakh crore floored you completely, there are claims that suggest the actual worth of the assets could well be above Rs 5 lakh crore. The claim was made by former chief secretary of Kerala, CP Nair. He said that the real market value of the treasure could be much higher than reported in the media making it easily the richest temple in the world. [Read: What history says on the Sri Padmanabha Temple]
Another former chief secretary, R Ramachandran Nair also backed the claims and was quoted as saying to reporters that all the articles, ornaments and precious jewels are the sole property of the temple and nobody has any right over it. He said, “The Maharaja is the Trustee of the temple and hence the official custodian of the wealth. The royal family has not touched a single paisa from these offerings. Neither the government nor the politicians can interfere with these offerings in any manner."
The Supreme Court had earlier slammed the court observers for talking to the media briefing them about the contents of the vaults and has instructed them not to reveal the details of the assets. They have also ordered the seven-member panel to videograph the inventory and list all the assets. With the 'B' vault still remaining to be opened, the decision whether to open the cellar will be arrived at the SC after due consultations with all parties.
The antique nature of the massive wealth has sparked considerable curiosity among historians and others interested to study the history of the state. Princess Gouri Lakshmi Bai, the niece of Uthradam Thirunal Marthanda Varma, who is the present title holder of the Travancore State stated that it would not be advisable to term the wealth as treasure and said, “It is offerings made by the Lord"s devotees and hence it is his wealth. They are not treasures."
With the exact date of the temple's consecration yet to be ascertained, there are records that suggest the temple was in existence since AD 910. Ramachandran Nair commented, “There are records indicating offerings made by Raja Raja Cholan and Krishna Devaraya of the Vijayanagaram Empire."
An immaculate piece of architectural marvel, the Padmanabhaswamy temple stands forthright as a perfect example of the Dravidian architecture. Incidentally, the temple is located near the Arya Samaj office from where non-Hindus can convert into the Hindu religion by paying a nominal Rs 50. This approval stamp from the Arya Samaj will qualify them to worship and enter the temple .