Buried deep down under the remnants of the primitive era, lies an extremely intriguing and astonishing story on the riches and mystic glory of the Ananth Padmanabha Swamy temple situated in Thiruvananthapuram. Standing amidst the spectacular landscapes and colonial architecture, this glorious relic of God's own country is undoubtedly one of the most magnificent and priceless treasure houses across the globe.
Revisiting the Past
Archived evidence state that; this world-famous sacred place is believed to store magnanimous amounts of valuables (precious metals, stones, gems and other riches), which, cherishes a glorious history of around 200 BC. Being the ancestral belongings of the Travancore's royal family, the prodigious treasure trove was being stored in six separate Kallaras (chambers) of the temple naming A, B, C, D, E and F, of which, five were being unlocked on 27th June 2011 as per the commandment of the Supreme Court of India. However, considering the recent scenario, two more vaults were being discovered and have been subsequently named as Vault G and H.
The only chamber that has remained unopened till date is Vault B, which is traditionally known as the Bharatakkan Kallara. After the order was passed by the Supreme Court of India, the members of the appointed committee unlocked the metal-grille door and found out that there is a strong and toughened wooden door. After opening the second door further, they discovered another iron-made door, which was seized. Though the committee members hired a locksmith, after some days, the Royal family received an order from the court stating the discontinuation of the program of opening the Vault B.
Mythological tales state that; the prodigious amount of unexplored treasure of the enigmatic Vault B is believed to be guarded by two lethal cobra snakes. Furthermore, to make the folklore more terrifying, it is believed that anyone who tries to open this vault will be cursed with disastrous outcomes.
What the Mammoth-sized Treasure had in Store for Us
After a myriad of speculations, anticipations and long-drawn-out explorations undertaken by the Government officials and archaeologists, an in-depth audit was being conducted way back in 2011 within the premises of the Padmanabha Swamy temple by the authorized committee and a colossal amount of riches with an estimated value of more than 1 lakh crore was unearthed. The assets being decoded were mostly filled with gold coins collected across several nations, gold idols, jewellery, utensils, diamond jewellery and gold necklaces with a length of around 18 feet and gold sheaves that weigh around 500kgs.
While plunging deeper into the towering-sized treasure trove, an intricately-crafted idol of Lord Maha Vishnu fully made exclusively of pure gold, while adorned with diamonds with a height of around 3 and a half feet was discovered. The Vault A turned out to be the storehouse of innumerable gold coins, which weighed more than 800 kgs with an estimated monetary value of INR 2.7 crores.
Furthermore, an exquisite throne made of pure gold was embellished with an array of precious stones and gems that offer a magnificent royal touch, thereby reflecting the well-celebrated status possessed by the rulers of the ancient era. Around 1200 eccentric heavy gold chains, embossed with lots of antique gems and stones comprise of a massive chunk of the treasure including archaic and irreplaceable antiques. Furthermore, gold coins built in the ancient Napoleonic age were also being uncovered. Another bizarre and outlandish finding was the gold coconut shells which, were adorned with precious sapphires and rubies. As a matter of fact, there was a huge stack of furniture including chairs and utensils including pots, jars and crowns as well, which were completely made of gold.
Researchers have estimated that the treasure to have an intrinsic value of around $18 billion without evaluating its archaic worth or inflationary fluctuations associated with it. Folklore asserts that this archive of gold has the worth of almost surpassing the combined treasure of British and Mughals.
The Mythological Implication
This temple, being considered as one of the 108 pilgrimage sites in Vaishnavism, is typically a replication of the world-known Sri Adikesavaperumal Temple nestled at Thiruvattar. In the temple, Lord Padmanabha is being seen to be reclined on the serpent Adi Sesha or Anantha. The serpent has 5 hoods with a posture of inward direction, which signifies contemplation. The right hand of Lord Padmanabha is being placed over above a Shiva Linga. Two consorts of the Lord naming Bhudevi, the goddess of Earth and Sridevi, the goddess of Prosperity are positioned by his side. As the idol symbolizes; Lord Brahma is positioned on a lotus, which is originated from the navel of Lord Vishnu. The platforms situated in front of the rising roof of the temple (Vimanam) and the place where the deity rests are made by carving a gigantic stone cut out of a rock which is around 2.5 ft thick and 20 ft square.
Among the six vaults, Vault B has been examined by Indian astrologists over the gradual passage of time and considered to be sacred, highly mysterious yet could be threatening if unveiled. The king-sized steel door of Vault B has two monstrous cobras painted on it and does not have any latches, bolts or any other form of entrance.
There is an age-old adage that during the reign of King Marthandavarma in the 16th century, the 'Siddha Purushas' recited the divine 'Naga Paasam' or 'Naga Bandham' mantras to defend the treasure stored in Vault B. Thus, such kind of a mysterious secret chamber is believed to be unlocked only by a wise, well-learned and pious 'sadhu' or saint who has extensive knowledge of the 'Garuda Mantra' and can chant it flawlessly. The door of this vault cannot be unlocked by any other means and presently, no such distinguished saint is present in the world who possess such the potential to chant the explicitly divine 'Garuda Mantra'. Any sort of other human attempts of opening the vault might lead to massive losses for the people associated with the temple and even all throughout the nation as well.
The Controversial Take
A multiple number of controversies started brewing up regarding the Sri Padmanabhaswamy temple as the audit report was revealed stating that' a total worth of INR 186 crores of gold have gone completely missing from the temple premises. As per the orders of former CAG (Comptroller and Auditor General) of India, Vinod Rai, a committee was made for probing into the irregularities.
As per the report findings, the administrative body of the temple did not have any system to estimate the purity and weight of gold and silver artifacts before giving them to the contractors for purification and melting works related to ornamentation.
The report also indicated that by June 2002, a number of gold pots with numbers of 1 to 1000 were being utilized for various festivals and pious ceremonies. However, on 1st Apr 2011, a pot with the number 1988 was taken out for a festival. Thus, it signifies that the fact that there were more than 1988 gold pots stored in several cellars of the temple.
Furthermore, it stated that 822 pots were being used for ornamentation work which, means 1166 pots should have remained in store. However, only 397 pots were being assigned to the committee and this indicates that a stock of 769 pots has gone missing. It also stated that all these pots are estimated to weigh around 776 kg of gold while having a total worth of INR 186 crores.
The Rational Take
In this fast-paced, contemporary world, people have undeniably become more rational, more pragmatic, well-learned and always look for some sort of relevant evidence before developing a strong belief in something. Thus, till the time any verdict is being passed by the supreme or regulatory authority, we should have a logical or ideal viewpoint of not drawing any adverse conclusion on this entire controversial or mystic episode.