In numbers: the story behind Sree Padmanabhaswamy temple vaults

The Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple has six vaults named A, B, C, D, E and F. Vaults C-F haven been opened periodically, while A was opened in 2011 upon Supreme Court's orders. According to a The Hindu report, Vault B – the vault that is currently under discussion in the SC – was also opened on that occasion but access was blocked by a thick metal door resembling that of a strong room.

The Varmas, the former royal family of Travancore, now part of the modern state of Kerala, have staunchly opposed opening Vault B, citing fears it will disturb the temple’s spiritual energy, anger the deity and bring them ill fortune. “They believe death will visit them if Kallara B would be opened,” KK Venugopal, a family lawyer, told the judges during a Supreme Court hearing in August. “They are extremely concerned something may happen to them.”

The lawyer then read to the bemused judges from a 1933 book on Travancore that recounted how a 1908 attempt by kingdom officials to retrieve temple valuables was suspended due to cobras in the vault, interpreted as a warning against tampering with the wealth of the deity, also known as Lord Padmanabha.

In April, Gopal Subramanium, a top lawyer appointed as amicus curiae, an independent adviser to the court on Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple matters, delivered a scathing assessment of the shrine’s management, controlled for centuries by the family. In the 575-page report, he argued there was no proper accounting of public donations received.

In a preliminary status report filed this August, Vinod Rai, former CAG, who was mandated by the SC to conduct an audit of the temple, said temple records shared with him showed Kallara B, which the royal family wanted to remain locked to preserve the shrine’s sanctity, was opened seven times in recent decades – twice in 1990 and five times in 2002.


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Printable version | Oct 10, 2021 2:37:37 AM |

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