Tirumala authority rejects former priest’s claims of CM Chandrababu Naidu-led treasure hunt

The TTD official said the kitchen was renovated to ensure the safety of the temple structure and Srivari Potu (kitchen) workers. A retired chief priest had alleged that a kitchen was dug up at the behest of Andhra Pradesh CM Chandrababu Naidu as part of his search for ancient treasure.

india Updated: Jun 23, 2018 17:46 IST
Srinivasa Rao Apparasu
Srinivasa Rao Apparasu
Hindustan Times, Hyderabad
Chandrababu Naidu,Tirumala,AV Ramana Deekshitulu
The Venkateswara Temple on Tirumala hills in Tirupati, Andhra Pradesh, is the country’s richest temple.(PTi File Photo)

The Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams (TTD), an organisation that manages the Lord Venkateshwara temple in Tirumala, has denied allegations made by retired chief priest AV Ramana Deekshitulu that a kitchen on its premises was dug up at the behest of chief minister Chandrababu Naidu to unearth a hidden treasure.

In a clarification to the media on Friday evening, TTD joint executive officer KS Sreenivasa Raju said the kitchen – known as the Srivari Potu – was closed for renovation for 25 days with the consent of Tirumala seer Pedda Jiyangar Swamy and Agama advisor NAK Sundera Varadan.

“We had four Agama advisors – NAK Sundera Varadan, Mohana Rangacharyulu, Desika Acharyulu and Jagannadha Acharyulu – other than Deekshitulu. We would approach them before taking up any development or renovation work related to the temple, and we neither interfered in religious matter nor showed disrespect to priests and religious staffers,” said Raju.

The TTD official said the kitchen was renovated to ensure the safety of the temple structure and Potu workers. “It was only after consulting the Agama stalwarts that we temporarily shifted the kitchen to the Padi Potu (where pilgrims’ laddoos are made). This was done twice in the past – in 2001 and 2008 – when similar renovation work was carried out,” he added.

He said the sacredness of the “prasadam (religious offering)” preparation was maintained as the exercise was carried out strictly in accordance with the tenets of the Agama.

Raju dismissed Deekshitulu’s allegations regarding the disappearance of antique jewellery, stating that temple authorities spend 20 days every year carrying out a verification exercise in this regard. “The verified jewels are entered in the Tiruvabharanam register (inventory) as per the prescribed process,” he maintained. “The temple remains open for nearly 23 hours a day with no less than 65,000 pilgrims taking the Lord’s darshan. Under these circumstances, it is impossible to rob the place. The allegations are totally baseless.”

The TTD official asked Deekshitulu to quit slinging mud at the TTD and the chief minister. “You have served the Lord for several decades and gained many virtues. Please stop making wild allegations and spend your retired life in peace,” Raju told him.

First Published: Jun 23, 2018 16:42 IST