Tale behind India’s Richest Temple

Can you name the richest temple in India? Do you think it’s Shirdi’s Sai Baba temple or Tirupati Balaji temple or perhaps the Golden temple? No prizes for ballpark guesses!

Well, the richest temple in India is the Hindu temple, Padmanabhaswamy Temple with an estimated worth of more than 15 billion$. It is located in Thiruvananthapuram which is the capital of Kerala. The prime deity of the temple is Lord Vishnu. Many Hindu texts have mentioned this shrine-like the Brahma Purana, Padma Purana, and Mahabharata.

The History

There’s a small story associated with the history of the temple. It is said that there used to be a Vishnu devotee named Divakar Muni who resided near the Aanathapuram temple. He used to perform his daily rituals punctually and prayed to God to see him once.

One day, the Muni saw a little boy playing near his ashram. He was very mischievous and went up to a limit where he even defiled the Lord’s idol which was kept for worship. This made the Muni furious and he asked the boy to leave the ashram immediately. The boy before leaving told the Muni that if he wants to meet him then he can visit Ananthankaad. After some time the Muni realized that the boy was none other than the Lord in disguise.

Muni then left in search of the boy and reached Ananthankaad, there he witnessed the boy merging into an Iluppa tree (Indian Butter tree) which soon emerged into a huge Vishnu idol. The idol was very big and was spanning in miles. The Muni asked the Lord to reduce his size which the Lord did. The Muni then offered some raw mango kept in a coconut shell to the lord. This tradition of offering continues even today.

It’s believed that the temple was built 5000yrs ago in the 16th Century by the kings of Travancore. It is one of the holiest abodes of Lord Vishnu. It is told that the kingdom of Travancore hid its riches in the temple.

The Present

Padmanabhaswamy Temple has 6 underground vaults called ‘kallaras’. As of now 5 of them have already been opened. The only vault left to be opened is vault B which is estimated to have treasure worth billions. Vault B is also called “Nilavara”.

Vault A had riches worth ₹1 lakh crore. The other vaults C, D, E, F were found to have other silver and gold jewelry and temple utensils.

Vault B hasn’t been opened because the Travancore royal family has claimed that that the particular vault has been cursed and opening it would only bring disasters. The vault has two chambers. Only the ante-chamber was opened previously. The inner chamber has never been opened.

There are many tales behind the vault as well. Some say that it can only be opened by chanting a hymn by a very religious Sadhu. They say that the vault is guarded by snakes. Some other tales say that the vault is connected to the Arabian Sea and unauthorized opening would sink the whole state or maybe the entire country.

The other vaults of the temple were opened under the direction of the Supreme Court of India. A petition was filed by advocate and IPS officer TP Sundara Rajan (who happened to be a devotee too) in Kerala High Court asking the state government to take over the temple administration because the current administration was not capable. The state government ruled that it would take over but the Travancore family appealed to the Supreme Court of India which in turn led the Supreme Court to assess the wealth of the temple in 2009. Though just after two years, in 2011, Sunder passed away. Many people attributed his sudden death to the wrath of Lord Padmanabhaswamy.

The Travancore family won the Supreme court case and took control of the temple.

The architecture of the temple is a blend of Dravidian style and Kerala architectural styles.

Now you may have a question, what is the Dravidian style of architecture in Indian temples? Are there any other styles? Worry not, I’ve got you covered!

The different architectures in Indian temples are:

I hope with this you could visualize the architecture of the temple :)

I would like to thank my readers for dropping here. I hope the time you spent reading my article has been fruitful.😊



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Suraj Verma

Developer & Programmer (who loves writing about social sciences & world politics)