Shri Padmanabhaswamy Temple - Kerala
Sri Padmanabhaswamy Temple is a Hindu temple situated in Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala. The deity Padmanabhaswamy is a form of Lord Vishnu. The temple has been mentioned in Hindu Texts of Brahma Purana, Matsya Purana, Varaha Purana, Skanda Purana, Padma Purana, Vayu Purana, Bhagvata Purana and Mahabharata. It has also been recorded in the Sangam Literature which dates back to 500BCE.
History of the Temple
Many historians are of the opinion that the temple was called 'The Golden Temple' because of an unimaginable wealth that the temple possessed, most of which is still there. Even the literature pieces refer it as temple with walls of pure gold. The main idol inside the temple is that of Padmanabha in the eternal yogic sleep of the serpent Adi Shesha, with one hand on Shivalinga.
It is believed that Lord Padmanabhaswamy gave darshan to the legendary sage Vilvamangalathu Swamiyar in the forests of Ananthankadu. This incarnation was so large that His head was at Thiruvattar, Body at Thiruvananthapuram and feet at Thripaddapuram. The Swamy requested the Lord to shrink in size and it is the same idol that we currently see in the temple.
There are other shrines dedicated to Lord Krishna, Rama, Sira, Lakshamana and Hanuman as well.
Secret Vaults in the temple
The temple has long been managed by the Travancore Royal Family.
There are 6 secret vaults in the temple - Vaults A to F. These vaults are said to have gold that is uncountable. However, the vaults have been opened periodically. The 2 temple priests are the custodians of Vaults C to F.
Vaults A, C, D, E and F have been opened with some of their antechambers. An 18 foot long pure gold chain, 3.5 feet tall idol of Lord Vishnu studded with hundreds of diamonds and rubies were found along with other gold ornaments and coins. Lakhs of golden coins were also from the Roman Empire.
It is estimated that the value stands at 1.2 lakh crore ($17 billion USD). And the antique and cultural has still not been included in it! In fact, this is when only some of the vaults are opened. The wealth has been accumulated from the times of Cheras, Pandyas, Kolathiris, Pallavas and the Cholas.
Visualize the money - The entire GDP of the Mughal Empire during Aurangzeb's tenure (when it was at its peak) was $USD 90 billion in modern day times.
The Travancore Royal Family in the 1880s had given an estimate of 12,000 cr INR in then (1880) terms. If it is to be converted to today;'s money, it is a whopping $US 700 billion or even trillions! And this is without taking into account the cultural value being factored. The Valult B was not opened after 1880s.
An English woman in her book 'Travancore' mentioned that the govt had to withdraw some money in 1902 when they ordered to open the vault. When a group of men went inside the Vault B, they found it infested by Cobras. Seeing that they ran away. Special prayers are needed to be done to open the Vault as it is believed that forcefully opening it would bring havoc for the city and also the state.
This is how the Vault B door looks
The temple architecture has been designed in such a way that during summer equinox, the sun goes down through the middle of the structure (Gopuram) with the rays radiating out through the middle doors, passing exactly through the center. Have a look!
How to visit?
Thiruvananthapuram is connected by Airport and Railways. The temple is situated very close to the airport.