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Kerala's Padmanabha Temple Treasure Worth Over Rs 60K Crore

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The value of the treasure found in the four vaults of Sri Padmanabha temple in Kerala has so far crossed an estimated value of Rs 60,000 crore. Tonnes of gold, thousands of precious stones and other valuables found in the secret vaults of the temple have literally blinded the eyes of the Supreme Court appointed team to estimate the value of the treasure.

Two other unopened vaults are believed to contain the yellow metal and gems worth an equal amount.

In short, the twelve centuries old temple owned by the royal family which ruled the erstwhile princely state of Travancore, is sitting on a treasure worth Rs 1.2 lakh crore. If their antique value is taken into account, their worth will be 10 times higher than the current market price.

The sudden discovery of the hitherto hidden treasure in the heart of the capital city is a headache rather than a pleasant surprise for the government.

Onus is on the government to provide tight security to the treasure which carries a religious sentiment too.

"There will be no lapse on part of the government in protecting the treasure trove at the Sri Padmanabha Swami temple. The government has already given directions to the director general of police ( DGP)," chief minister Oommen Chandy said.

But DGP Jacob Punnose was not too confident of the task assigned to him.

He sounded apologetic while giving out hints that the state police was still searching for a way to keep the invaluable treasure well protected, especially after the amount of exposure it has gained owing to worldwide media coverage.

"It is too big a challenge for the police. We have no trained personnel to manage such a huge treasure. We have sought the help of several agencies who can really help us," Punnose said.

By Saturday evening, the security was entrusted to the ADGP P. Venugopal. Nearly 200 officers and men will be deployed under him in and around the temple.

Sophisticated webcams and other modern equipment will be installed within the temple premises to further strengthen the security.

Earlier the Supreme Court had directed to make inventories of the articles found in the vaults and then place them back in the cellars, granting the plea of former IPS officer Sundara Rajan.

But it has kicked up heated discussions across the state regarding the future of the treasure trove.

While a section argues that since it is the wealth of the presiding deity, it should be kept as such at the temple; the other section contends that it belongs to the government and should be used for social welfare.

During the last two days search in two vaults which are believed to have not been opened for centuries, brought out several sacks full of precious stones.

Reportedly, one of the stones itself is worth Rs 50 crore.

The vaults also had several tonnes of ancient gold coins of various countries and thousands of ornaments The SC appointed panel is headed by former high court judge M. N. Krishnan and is assisted by experts from state archives and public works department.

The stock taking operation is expected to be completed in a few days.


Estimated value of treasure trove found in the four vaults is Rs 60, 000 crore

It is believed valuables worth an equal amount is contained within the two other vaults

Taken together the centuries old temple is sitting on treasure worth Rs 1.2 lakh crore

A search conducted on the two vaults revealed that it contains ancient gold coins from various countries and thousands of ornaments


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Pramod Kumar Buravalli

A national religious council should manage temples and places of historical and cultural relevance to the followers of all Indian religions, says Pramod Kumar Buravalli.

Some well-meaning American friends of mine suggested that the Indian government use the treasure found at the Sri Ananta Padmanabhaswamy temple in Kerala for the welfare of the common Indian.

Some others suggested that India clear off its debts to the World Bank or International Monetary Fund. Many others had wild ideas such as using that money to 'create jobs in India' and hence put brakes on unrestrained 'outsourcing' that was purportedly affecting American lives.

I can buy some of these ideas since all the Americans that I personally know of mean no harm to India or its culture. They in fact respect Mahatma Gandhi and admire the story of Indian economic and social success.

However, I am afraid that politics and vested interests will not let treasures such as (there are many more underneath other ancient structures) the one that is currently being valuated in Kerala, be utilised for the common devotee (or) for the preservation of ancient cultures and traditions of India.

Large institutions like the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam and Shirdi Sai Sansthan are counted amongst the richest religious conglomerations in the world, but they have no global mandate for preservation of dharma and are simply disconnected with the wider cause of conservation.

I am not blaming them at all since they are pawns in the hands of the government! They do great work independently but have no strategic mandate. This problem pervades across the world wherever there are ancient temples that owe allegiance to Indian religions.

Some of them are extremely popular and cash rich but are under the control of their respective state governments or quasi government bodies that almost invariably end up diverting the income and treasury for 'populist' electoral measures that have nothing to do with protection, preservation and propagation of religion.

India is the holy land of four of the world's largest and oldest religions viz. Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism. In fact, some of the sites within India are holier than holy to more than 2 billion global adherents of the above-mentioned religions.

However, it is very unfortunate that these four religions, their temples, their academic and service oriented institutions and cultural centers are controlled directly or indirectly by governments or their appointed cronies.

Under the 'influence' of the national policy of secularism and socialism, the government of India chose not to give autonomy to these religious institutions and never once made an attempt to constitute a single apex authority to control their day to day affairs.

Like always, I would not want to leave a list of complaints about an issue as complex as government control of religion and heritage centres!

Below are some of the collective suggestions that are supported by eminent Indologists from around the world: Make way for the setting up of a 'Supreme Indian Religious Council' consisting of eminent religious personalities and Indologists whose sole aim and mission would be:

* To manage temples and places of historical and cultural relevance to the followers of all Indian religions. If there is a disagreement about a unified body for all the four religions together, then a separate council for each religion can also be considered.

* To grant and implement subsidies and concessions to anyone visiting notified places of pilgrimage within and outside India.

* To build, rebuild or conserve pilgrimage and cultural heritage centers.

* To fund social initiatives particularly concerning education and healthcare.

* To revive Indo-centric schools of thought (like Nalanda and Takshashila) that are well funded and whose mandate would be to study, revive and propagate Indic traditions.

* No government appointed officer should be part of the above council and its institutions. All religious matters (except land and pending criminal disputes) should be allowed to be settled via arbitration overseen by this council.

In a month from now, all the treasures found in the Kerala temple would have been valuated by a panel appointed by the Supreme Court of India.

Initial estimates are that the treasure runs into tens of billions of dollars making the temple and its governing board (Travancore Devasom Board), one of the richest religious institutions in the world!

My sources tell me that the temple belongs to the royal family of Kerala as part of the deal the Indian government struck with the ancestors of the current royal family during the merger of all the princely states in 1947.

According to this agreement, if the temple needs to become part of the state, then the state itself reverts back to the royal family and thus losing its statehood within India! No one wants that to happen, least of all the patriotic royal family of Travancore and every single Keralite.

My personal opinion is that the treasure should stay with the Devasom board of Travancore until the time a national level religious council is constituted and becomes fully operational.

The Kerala royal family has done a great job in safeguarding the ancient treasure from pillaging invaders and corrupt politicians.

The royal family is still highly respected and trusted amongst the residents of Kerala because they donated all their riches to the Lord!

It should stay that way

The author is a member of the Global Hindu Heritage Foundation that works towards the preservation of Indian temples.


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