Vault C opened, contents weighed on digital balance

The seven-member committee, appointed by the Supreme Court to take an inventory of the six vaults (kallaras) at the Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple here, on Monday unsealed one vault.

The ‘kallara' on the north-western side inside the ‘nalambalam' of the temple — vault C — was unsealed shortly before 11 a.m. The committee reportedly completed the inventory by 7 p.m. Each article in the vault was counted and weighed on a digital balance. Three ‘gold assessors' were also present on the occasion. This vault, which is opened many times a year, is said to contain utensils used for various rituals in the temple. The committee is expected to open a second vault on Tuesday.

The court directive was in response to a quo warranto petition filed by the former IPS officer and Supreme Court lawyer, T.P. Sundara Rajan.

Those present during the unsealing included, apart from Mr. Rajan, former judges of the Kerala High Court, M.N. Krishnan and C.S. Rajan, Additional Chief Secretary to the Government of Kerala K. Jayakumar, Executive Officer of the temple Harikumar, an official from the Department of Archaeology, and a representative of Uthradom Thirunal Marthanda Varma, the head of the royal family of erstwhile Travancore.

The contents of two vaults, A and B, are the subject of a controversy. These vaults have supposedly not been opened for more than a century and are rumoured to contain priceless jewels, precious stones and artefacts. The two priests of the temple, the ‘Periya Nambi' and the ‘Thekkedom Nambi', are the custodians of the four vaults, C to F, which are opened periodically.

The Supreme Court had directed that “the existing practices, procedures and rituals” of the temple be followed while opening vaults C to F and using the articles inside. “Vaults A and B shall be opened only for the purposes of making an inventory of the articles and then closed.”