Sri Padmanabhaswamy Temple will be run by the Indian royal family: SC Royal dynasty wins right to run the Sri Padmanabhaswamy Temple – one of the world’s richest places of worship

India’s Supreme Court on Monday upheld the right of a former royal dynasty to run the Sri Padmanabhaswamy Temple in Kerala, one of the world’s richest places of worship, after the state government tried to take it over when the family patriarch died.
 
The historic Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple in Thiruvananthapuram (Trivandrum), Kerala, India. The temple which is more than 260 years old recently came into the spotlight after gold coins and precious

When one of the vaults of the towering centuries-old Hindu temple in Thiruvananthapuram in Kerala state was opened in 2011, it was found to hold diamonds by the sackful along with tonnes of gold coins and jewellery – a hoard estimated at more than $20 Billion.

Several Hindu temples in India have wealth running to the billions of dollars as devotees give gold and other precious objects as gifts to spiritual or religious institutions that run hospitals, schools and colleges.

“We allow the appeal of the royal family of Travancore. Death does not effect Shebaitship (management and maintenance of the deity) of the Travancore Family,” justices UU Lalit and Indu Malhotra said in their order.
 
The Supreme Court upheld the right of the erstwhile royal family of Travancore as the custodian of the properties belonging to the deity of Sree Padmanabhaswamy temple in Thiruvananthapuram, overruling a 2011 Kerala High Court judgment that the state government take control of the temple and its vast riches. The SC had in 2011 stayed the High Court ruling and ordered an assessment of the temple’s wealth. Following this, jewellery, coins and precious stones with a nominal value of Rs 1 lakh crore were discovered after one of the six kallaras, or vaults, was opened to public audit for the first time.
 
The history: The centuries-old temple complex is an eclectic mix of Dravidian and classic Kerala architecture. Its definite age is not known — perhaps 6th or even 3rd century — but the structure we see today is the result of a renovation undertaken during the reign of Anizhom Thirunal Marthanda Varma, between 1729 and 1758 CE. In 1750, the king surrendered his kingdom and the wealth to the deity. After India became a republic, the administration of the temple was vested in a trust under a 1949 agreement of the accession between the then ruler, Chithira Thirunal Balarama Varma, and Govt of India.
 
About the vaults: The temple has six vaults. Four of these are periodically opened as per rituals. Vaults A and B are said to have not been opened for centuries. In 2011, the SC ordered they be for “making an inventory of the articles and then closed”. Vault A was opened, but the royal family opposed the opening of Vault B, saying it would disturb the spiritual energy and bring ill-fortune.
About the rights: In 2007, a lawsuit by devotees alleged mismanagement by the trust and challenged the right of Utradam Thirunal Marthanda Varma, the younger brother of Chithira Thirunal, who died in 1991. In 2011, Kerala High Court ruled that the state has the administrative right over the temple since the 26th amendment of the constitution, 1971, had abolished privy purses and privileges of erstwhile rulers of princely states.
 
The apex court’s latest ruling said the royal family’s shebaitship survives the death of the ruler. But it directed the formation of a committee, with Thiruvananthapuram district judge as the chairperson, to administer the temple. A nominee of the trustee (the family), the chief priest, a nominee of the state and a nominee of the Union ministry of culture would be the other members. An advisory committee headed by a retired High Court judge will also be set up. SC did not rule on the vaults, leaving the decision to the committees.

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