The experts panel, formed to decide on the security, inventory and opening of kallara (secret vault) ‘B' in the Padmanabhaswamy temple in Thiruvananthapuram, has suggested to the Supreme Court the creation of a ‘Digital Archives of Temple Antiques' (DATA) for preserving the priceless objects scientifically.
Accurate listing of objects
In its 75-page report submitted to a Bench of Justices R.V. Raveendran and A.K. Patnaik early this month, the committee said the temple “has a large collection of valuables and priceless objects which needs to be preserved in the most scientific manner. The immediate need is to create a computerised inventory so that there will be an accurate and up-to-date listing of the objects in an indexed manner and information pertaining to each item in the collection will be retrieved in a quick and efficient manner.”
On whether there was need to open the secret vault, the committee said “a Devaprasnam was conducted and kallara ‘B' was not opened and further orders from the court are awaited in this regard.” It, however, said opening of kallara ‘B' was required to ascertain the quantity and quality of the items stored inside; for inventory management; for ascertaining the condition and structure of kallara ‘B' to ascertain requirement of security measures, if required, for strengthening and for documentation of all artefacts/treasure items.”
To drive home the need for strengthening the security system, the committee identified vulnerabilities: temple located in a heavily populated area and hence it will be difficult to mark a security zone around the premises; location of a political party office, shops and eateries close to the temple; an unsupervised parking area; the presence all around the temple premises of residential buildings which can be used for covert surveillance by miscreants; multiple exit points and inadequate illumination inside the temple.
The committee said: “The area may be secured by installing temporary metal screens to block the view of devotees visiting daily and other unauthorised persons. All activities related to scientific documentation of the treasure items should be done under CCTV surveillance, including movement of the treasure outward and inward to the kallaras. These activities should be monitored by police officials at the CCTV control room.”
The committee said the eateries, shops, the political party office and other establishments located adjoining the temple periphery should be removed or relocated. It suggested three options to strengthen the security system for all six kallaras.
Pointing out that the valuable objects in kallara ‘A' were now kept in ordinary iron trunks and plastic bags, the committee said the storage should be replaced with acceptable alternatives. The articles should be stored in acid-free or seasoned wooden boxes, it said.