Government to act once temple trust gives a request

Efforts are under way for inclusion of the Sree Padmanabhaswamy temple in the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage List.

The move comes in the wake of discovery of staggering hoards of gold coins, jewels and gem-encrusted statues in the vaults of the 16th century temple, making it one of country's wealthiest places of worship. With ancient works of art in stone and bronze, murals and wood carvings, the temple is a fine specimen of the Dravidian style of architecture.

The government will take the initiative to get the World Heritage tag for the temple once the request comes from the trust that manages the day-to-day affairs of the temple. Official sources told The Hindu that the government was hopeful that the request in this regard would be included in the suggestions that would be submitted by the trust that has Uthradom Tirunal Marthanda Varma, head of the royal family of erstwhile Travancore, at its helm.

UNESCO seeks to encourage the identification, protection, and preservation of cultural and natural heritage around the world considered to be of outstanding value to humanity. This is embodied in an international treaty – Convention concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage – adopted by UNESCO in 1972. To be included on the World Heritage List, sites must be of outstanding universal value and meet at least one of 10 selection criteria.

“It is a most deserving and fit case to get the UNESCO's World Heritage tag. The temple has a blend of Kerala and Dravidian architecture and at the same time is simple when compared to temples such as the one in Madurai,” historian M.G. Sasibhushan said.

Kshatriya Sabha plea

The issue also figured at a meeting that office-bearers of the Kshatriya Kshema Sabha had with Uthradom Tirunal Marthanda Varma on Friday. “The entire temple city represents a blend of Dravidian and Kerala architecture,” the Sabha said in a letter. Owing to perfection in execution, coupled with the age of the structure and its history, the temple city should be declared a World Heritage Site, it said. With enhanced security systems, the Kuthiramalika museum should be expanded to include selected artefacts that had been found in the vaults, it said.

The Sabha demanded that the trust, in its present form, continue to own and maintain the wealth at the temple itself. The Union government should, through an appropriate decree, declare the temple complex a high-security zone on a par with or above the Amritsar Golden Temple. The complex should be defined as that contained within the four Fort walls. The area should be divided into four zones. The government should also take steps to declare the temple a ‘no-fly zone.'

Kerala Tourism should capitalise on the global exposure received by the temple to improve connectivity to Thiruvananthapuram and take up a marketing drive. The Kuthiramalika museum should become part of overall tourism promotion. The revenue generated from the museum and tourism should be used to pay back the expenses incurred for the security and maintenance of the museum, the Sabha demanded.

RELATED NEWS

Teams inspect five temple vaults August 2, 2011