The State Archives Department is digitising the Mathilakom records (old palm leaf manuscripts of Padmanabhaswamy temple in Thiruvananthapuram) as part of the second phase of digitisation of old records.

The records throw light on the history of the temple, and digitization might help in researching the records and finding missing links. There is renewed interest in the records because of the finding of large quantum of wealth in the temple vaults.

Assistant Archivist Ashok Kumar told The Hindu that the State Archives had the largest collection of palm leaf records in the whole of Asia.

The Department had plans to digitise all of them so that the information could be preserved. (The cadjan manuscripts were susceptible to climatic conditions). The process involved cleaning and scanning of the records and conversion into portable document format.

“A few of the preserved records date back to the 14th century A.D. but most are around 200 years old", Mr. Ashok Kumar said.

The Department had entrusted the digitisation process to the Centre for Development of Imaging Technology (C-DIT) and work had started on the first phase four years ago. The records digitised so far included those on palm leaves, bamboo splints, copper plates and paper.

Altogether 11 lakh records were digitised including about 1000 churnas, paper records and rare documents. About 1.25 lakh microfilmed records were converted to digital form.

The Department is now focusing particularly on the Mathilakom records.

They contain information pertaining to the temple administration of the past. Many of the age old rituals still being followed in the Padmanabhaswamy temple had their origins during the administration of the temple under the kings of Travancore.

The Department proposes to complete the second phase by March next year subject to availability of funds. Rs. 25 lakh had been allocated for the project this year.