Around 17 kg of gold was allegedly pilfered from the vaults of one of the richest Hindu shrines in the country, Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple. In his report to the Supreme Court, amicus curiae Gopal Subramaniam cited irregularities in the running of the temple. A look at the temple’s treasure and that of other rich shrines across India.
Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple, Kerala
In 2011, the shrine became one of the richest temples in the country after an inventory assessment done by a team of observers, following a Supreme Court directive, found treasure worth Rs 1,00,000 crore in its secret vaults. The treasure included golden crowns, 17 kg of gold coins, and an 18-foot-long golden necklace weighing 2.5 kg. This year, an apex court-appointed amicus curiae, while disclosing financial mismanagement by the temple administration, said all the lockers were opened and “locker B appears to have been opened more than once”. The SC then ordered former CAG Vinod Rai to supervise a special audit of the temple.
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Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam, Andhra Pradesh
The most visited temple in the country, this shrine has over 3,000 kg of gold deposited in different banks and Rs 1,000 crore in fixed deposits. According to a survey, the annual income of the temple is estimated to be
Rs 650-700 crore. The temple also holds the record for the highest collection on a single day — Rs 5.73 crore in April last year on Ram Navami.
Siddhivinayak temple, Maharashtra
The Mumbai shrine has an annual income of Rs 40 crore. The temple earned an annual income of Rs 48. 89 crore in 2010-11. Of this, Rs 38 crore came through donations while puja bookings brought in around Rs 3 crore. Other assets include fixed deposits worth Rs 144 crore,110 kg gold and 1,100 kg silver, as per a 2011 media report.
Shirdi Saibaba Temple, Maharashtra
The temple has jewellery worth over Rs 50,53,17,473 and FDs worth around Rs 627,56,97,488 as of March 2013. The temple also has foreign currency worth Rs 17,05,137. It claimed to be spending Rs 76 crore on charity, including Rs 45 crore towards the development of an airport at Shirdi and hosting a Sai Bhajan Sandhya in London for Rs 24,69,239. In 2013, the temple received donations worth Rs 2,06,14,96,152. The same year, an official of the Shri Saibaba Sansthan Trust reportedly said that the temple had received cash and jewellery worth Rs 3.44 crore in three days — Rs 3 crore in gold and silver ornaments and the rest through sales at temple counters and devotees’ accommodation.
Vaishno Devi, Katra, Jammu & Kashmir
The second most visited temple, Vaishno Devi has an annual income of approximately Rs 500 crore. The temple is said to be the fifth richest in India. Between 2008 and 2012, 193.5 kg of yellow metal and 8,163 kg of white metal was offered by devotees. According to the shrine board, only 78 per cent of the yellow metal and 30 per cent of the white metal was pure gold and silver.
Guruvayur Temple, Kerala
Run by a nine-member committee under the Kerala Devaswom Board, the famous Krishna temple makes approximately Rs 2.5 crore annually and has around Rs 125 crore in fixed deposits. The most sought after puja at the shrine, the Udayaasthamana Puja, has a wait list till 2049. The dawn to dusk puja costs Rs 50,000.