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‘God’s ornaments not for display’, Travancore royal family opposes museum for Padmanabhaswamy temple riches

The Travancore royal family has rejected the Union minister of state for tourism K J Alphons’s proposal to make a high-security underground museum near the Padmanabhaswamy temple to keep it’s riches.

india Updated: Jul 09, 2018 00:00 IST
Ramesh Babu
Ramesh Babu
Hindustan Times, Thiruvananthapuram
Padmanabhaswamy temple,kerala temple,richest temple
The Padmanabhaswamy Temple in Thiruvananthapuram is one of the richest temples in the country.(HT photo)

The Travancore royal family, the erstwhile custodians of Sree Padmanabhaswamy temple, have opposed the government’s proposal of keeping the temple’s wealth in a high-tech museum.

The royal family and devotees insist that ‘God’s ornaments are not items to be displayed and cannot be removed from the temple’.

Last week, Union minister of state for tourism KJ Alphons mooted a high-security museum to keep the treasure. He called on the royal family members to discuss the idea to build Rs 300-crore underground museum near the temple with an assurance that the Centre will bear all expenses and convert it to a major tourist attraction in the country.

However, the royals were not convinced. They reportedly told the minister that they don’t have a problem in displaying 3-D images of the temple’s wealth in a museum but they will oppose taking them out of the temple.

“The jewels in the temple are for the Lord and devotees love to see the Lord in decked up with these jewellery. We feel such sacred ornaments cannot be showcased in a museum as mere exhibits,” said Adithya Varma, scion of the royal family said.

“The whole issue is before the apex court. We feel it is not proper to shift the Lord’s wealth. There are many temples and other religious bodies in the country owning such wealth. But nobody is talking about displaying them. There are innumerable customs and traditions attached to the temple and we hope they will be protected,” he added.

Many devotees also share the same view. “Sanctity of the temple is supreme. We don’t want commercialisation of our shrine citing the archaic value of wealth,” said K P Madusoodanan, secretary, Fort Association of Residents, an umbrella organisation comprising devotees living around the temple.

The ancient temple in Thiruvananthapuram hit headlines when the Supreme Court ordered a stocktaking of its inventory of wealth in 2010. When one of the secret vaults was opened in 2011 treasures estimated at Rs 1 lakh crore were found. There are six chambers - later coded A to F - under the sanctum sanctorum of the temple. Of these, two are usually opened during the daily pooja and two twice a year and remaining two (A and B) are secret vaults.

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 purity. The second secret chamber ‘B’ is yet to be opened and officials claim it might contain even more wealth

First Published: Jul 08, 2018 12:06 IST