Adding to its 9.25 crore worth diamond repository, the Saibaba temple in Shirdi earlier this week, found two diamond necklaces worth a whopping Rs 92 lakh in its hundi (donation box). While most of the expensive donations are given directly to the trustees, it was unusual for such an extravagant piece of jewellery to be found in the box. According to a report by the Business Standard, Indian households and temples are home to some 20,000 tonnes of gold worth Rs 52 lakh crore that lie idle and a heap of them are in some of the wealthiest temples in the country. Here are five names that feature among the richest temples down south:
Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple
Located at East fort in Kerala‚Äôs capital city Thiruvananthapuram, Sree Padmanabhaswamy temple has always aroused curiosity with tales of hidden treasure and mysterious cobra myths. With the presiding deity of the temple being Lord Vishnu, its history dates back to the 8th century. The temple is now run by a trust, which is headed by the royal family of Travancore. Believed to be holding Rs 1 lakh crore worth gold in its treasure troves, the Padmanabhaswamy temple is considered to be the richest temple in the world. Though the temple‚Äôs five treasured vaults were opened back in 2011, by a team mandated by the Supreme Court, there is said to be a hidden chamber beyond Vault B (which was once rumoured to be protected by cobras, which was later discounted by Auditor General Vinod Rai).
Dedicated to Lord Ayyappa, Sabarimala is located in Pathanamthitta district of Kerala. The Indian pilgrimage site attracts over a million devotees every year. Every devotee has to undergo a 41-day austere fast, refraining from all worldly pleasures before the trek. The temple is known to be one of the wealthiest temples in the country. "The average annual income is around Rs 105 crore and about 15 kg of gold," said P Venugopal , Devaswom Commissioner of Sabarimala temple, in an Economic Times report. Interestingly, according to an indiatimes report, the temple is known to have considered the deployment of robots at the premises at one point to calculate the donations made. Sabarimala comes under the TDB, which is known to manage several other temples in South India.
Tirumala Tirupati Venkateswara Temple
By Vimalkalyan at English Wikipedia [Public domain]; via Wikimedia Commons
Situated about 550 km south east of Hyderabad, the Tirumala Tirupati temple is devoted to Lord Venkateswara who is an incarnation of Vishnu. According to a report by DNA, the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam projected an enormous Rs 900 crore as its Hundi collection, for 2014-15 with an annual turnover of Rs 2401 crore. Moreover the temple is also known to receive 80-100 kg of gold and 100-120 kg of silver, every month. "Tirupati has a treasure trove of Rs 70,000 crore in the form of gold bars, coins and jewellery," said Swamy Kamalananda Bharati, head of Hindu Devalaya Parirakshana Samity to the Economic Times. Further, the report by ET also says that the temple has deposited 1353 kg and 2,275 kg of gold with the Indian Overseas Bank and the State Bank of India respectively, earning revenues from it.
By RanjithSiji (Self); via Wikimedia Commons
Dedicated to Lord Krishna, the Guruvayurappan temple is one of the most prominent temples in India‚Äôs cultural heritage. The temple is known fondly for its Udayasthamana Pooja, which comprises 15 pujas that are rendered from sunrise to sunset. With an annual income of Rs 50 crore, the temple is known to have 600 kg of gold, according to the Economic Times, out of which 500 kg is said to have been deposited in the State Bank of India, Mumbai as gold bars, with the rest of the wealth stored inside the temple for everyday rituals.
Meenakshi Amman Temple
By Bernard Gagnon (Own work); via Wikimedia Commons
Located on the southern banks of the Vaigai river in Madurai, the enormous temple- considered one of the wealthiest in south India- is dedicated to Sundareshvara (Lord Shiva) and his consort Meenakshi. The temple is known for its annual 10-day Meenakshi Tirukalyanam festival, which is celebrated through April and May, attracting at least 1 million devotees every year.