Fire breaks out near Sree Padmanabha Swami temple in Kerala | india-news | Hindustan Times
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Fire breaks out near Sree Padmanabha Swami temple in Kerala

A major fire broke out near the Sree Padmanabha Swami temple here, one of the richest shrines in the country, early on Sunday.

india Updated: Feb 26, 2017 17:50 IST
Ramesh Babu
Sree Padmanabha Swami temple
A major fire broke out near the Sree Padmanabha Swami temple here, one of the richest shrines in the country.(Reuters File Photo)

A major fire broke out near the Sree Padmanabha Swami temple here, one of the richest shrines in the country, early on Sunday.

According to fire department sources, the fire broke out at the western entrance of the temple and two offices of the archaeology department and a post office were completely gutted.

However, the temple is safe.

According to initial reports, the fire originated from a waste dump. Two fire force personnel were injured while controlling the inferno.

Officials said the fire was brought under control in one hour and the exact damage would be gauged later.

State temple affairs minister Kadakampally Surendran, who rushed to the spot, ordered an inquiry.

The incident has raised some questions about the safety of the ancient temple that is being controlled by an apex body named by the Supreme Court.

The 16th century temple, situated in the heart of the state capital, hit the headlines six years ago when one of the six secret vaults (later coded as ‘A’ vault) was opened, unearthing vast amounts of wealth, roughly estimated at Rs one lakh crore, earning the shrine the richest tag. Since then, the temple security had been tightened.

Alleging pilferage, a retired IPS officer T P Sundararajan, who died three years ago, had fought many legal battles to inventory the temple assets.

In 2010, the Supreme Court had ordered inventorying and later divested the royal family from managing the temple affairs.

The SC-appointed expert team, which was required to assess the wealth, had classified the six chambers of the sanctum sanctorum as ‘A’ to ‘F’.

Of these, two cellars are usually opened for pooja daily and two twice a year and the remaining two (A&B) are secret vaults.

Besides the expert panel, the temple audit authority head and former CAG, Vinod Rai had favoured the opening of the ‘B’ vault to complete the task. Since the court had ordered strict confidentiality, none other than expert committee members have any definite idea about the recovered items.

Sources close to the temple claimed antique coins found in the chambers alone weighed more than 600 kg. Around 2 lakh items were documented and out of these 600 were embedded with precious gems.

One single locket alone is believed to contain 997 gems. Besides jewels, precious stones, necklaces, golden crowns and pots were also included in the list of inventory, sources said. A purity-testing machine was used to chart all metals according to its period and tested for purity.