Gold idols, hidden treasures in vaults: Here are some of India’s richest temples
As the process of opening another vault of the Sree Padmanabhaswamy temple gathers steam, here’s a list of some of the richest temples in India.india Updated: Aug 27, 2017 17:15 IST
Temples in India aren’t just the abode of gods. They are also repositories of wealth, quite a lot of it undisclosed.
Devotees seeking divine blessings have offered billions of dollars worth of jewellery, bars and coins to temples over the centuries. However, most temples are secretive about their stash, and the gold is often stored in subterranean vaults.
As the process of opening another vault of the Sree Padmanabhaswamy temple gathers steam, here’s a list of some of the richest temples in India:
Padmanabhaswamy temple, Kerala
This 16th century temple is reportedly the richest shrine in India, and possesses valuables worth billions of rupees.
The shrine, situated in the heart of the state capital Thiruvananthapuram, hit the headlines in 2011 when one of its two secret vaults (Vault A) was opened, unearthing vast amounts of wealth, roughly estimated at Rs 1 lakh crore.
The temple dedicated to Lord Vishnu is also rumoured to have a hidden inner chamber beyond Vault B. According to a Forbes article, it is believed that this secret chamber has thick walls of gold and contains more undiscovered treasures.
Tirupati temple, Andhra Pradesh
The Sri Venkateswara Swamy Temple in Tirupathi, built in the 10th century, is one the world’s largest religious pilgrimage destinations. An average of 30,000 visitors donate $6 million to the temple everyday, according to a government website.
Shri Vaishno Devi shrine, Jammu
Millions of pilgrims undertake the arduous journey to the Vaishno Devi shrine on the Trikuta mountains in Jammu and Kashmir. It is estimated that the temple has 1.2 tonnes of gold, and received more than 193 kg of gold as donation in five years (of which 43 kg was found to be fake), a report by the Business Standard revealed.
Siddhivinayak temple, Mumbai
The two-century-old Shree Siddhivinayak temple in Mumbai is one of India’s richest temples, having amassed 158 kg of gold offerings worth $67 million until now. Its heavily guarded vaults are strictly off limits.
The richest temple in Mumbai has an idol of Lord Ganesha placed under a gold-plated roof.
The Guruvayur temple, Kerala
Though little is known about the wealth housed by the Guruvayur temple, one of the most sacred religious establishments in India, it does boast of a 33.5-metre (110-feet) gold-plated flagstaff that everybody is allowed to view. The temple’s annual income is estimated at Rs 50 crore, and it reportedly has a treasure trove of over 600 kg in gold.
Sabarimala temple, Kerala
According to reports, three crore pilgrims visit the Sabarimala temple in Kerala every year. The shrine’s annual income is estimated at around Rs 105 crore, plus around 15 kg of gold.
Shirdi Sai Baba shrine, Mumbai
The Shirdi Sai Baba shrine in Mumbai is said to be the third-richest temple in India. Every year, it gets Rs 360 crore in donations from devotees, says an India Today report.
Golden Temple, Amritsar
Though this Sikh shrine has not given a disclosure of its wealth, its intricately carved gold panels — topped by a dome reportedly gilded with 750 kg of gold — speaks volumes on how rich it is.
Jagannath Temple, Puri
This Puri temple dedicated to Lord Jagannath — a form of Vishnu — is famous for its annual Rath Yatras. It is said that its deities are adorned with gold weighing 208 kg.
(With agency inputs)
First Published: Aug 27, 2017 15:50 IST