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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
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
India's richest temples,Padmanabhaswamy temple,Temple treasures
(Combination image)

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.

The fabled treasures that lie in the vaults of the Sree Padmanabhaswamy temple are of the like rarely seen anywhere in the world. (Vivek R Nair/HT File Photo)

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.

Devotees throng the Tirupati temple (PTI File Photo)

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.

The Vaishno Devi shrine on Jammu and Kashmir’s Trikuta mountains. (Nitin Kanotra/HT File Photo)

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.

Siddhivinayak temple in Mumbai. (Vijayanand Gupta/HT File Photo)

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.

The Guruvayur temple in Kerala (Wikicommons)

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.

Worshippers queue up during a pilgrimage at the Sabarimala temple. (AP File Photo)
The base of the flag mast at Sabarimala temple. (HT File Photo)

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.

The idol of Shirdi Sai Baba at the shrine. (IANS File Photo)
Shirdi Sai Baba temple. (HT File Photo)

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.

A view of the Golden Temple in Amritsar. (Gurpreet Singh/HT File Photo)

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.

The Jagannath Temple in Puri (Shutterstock)

(With agency inputs)

First Published: Aug 27, 2017 15:50 IST