India’s is a country blessed with lots of diverse cultures and cultural & religious heritage. The Padmanabhaswamy temple of Thiruvanthapuram which is one of the most celebrated temples in India. It is said to be the richest temple in the World due to hidden treasures inside the secret chambers of the temple.
Let’s have a go through of some of the interesting facts about this temple
1.It is one of the 108 Divya Desam sites of Lord Vishnu and the principal deity of Lord Padmanabhaswamy( Form of Lord Vishnu) is worshipped over here.
2.Lord Padnabhaswamy could be seen enshrined in the form of eternal yogic sleep posture on the Adi Shesha Naga. The posture is known as Anantha Shayana.
3.Lord Padmanabhswamy is the guardian deity of the Royal Family of Travancore.
4.The name of Thiruvananthapuram translates to “The city of Lord Ananta” in Malayalam.
5.Lord Padmanabhasamy temple architecture is a unique blend for blend Chera’s style architecture and Dravidian Style Architecture.
6.The temple traces could be found in different Puranas like Bhagavata, Matyasya, Skanda, Padma, Vayu and many more.
7.As per the Sangam Literature between 500 BCE-800 BCE, many historians and scholars said Lord Padmanbhasamy temple earlier name was “Golden Temple” because of immense wealth and jewels hidden inside the temple.9th century famous Tamil poet Nammalwar said the temple walls and the city was made of pure gold.
8.It is said that it was the Lord Parashurama purified the idol of Lord Padmanabhaswamy in Dwapara yuga and handled the administration of temple to 7 potti families(Koopakkara, Vanchioor, Kollur, Muttavila, Karuva, Neythasseri, Sreekaryathu)
9.Moolam Thirunal Rama Varma the current Maharaja of Travancore is the present Trustee of the temple
The Legend of the Padmanabhaswamy Temple:-
However, the temple origin remains unknown but as per Historians like Dr L. A. Ravi Varma that it as built 5000 yrs ago on the first day of Kali-yuga.
-The history of the Padmanabhaswamy temple goes back to the time of Sage Vilvamangalathu Swamiyar, who lived in Ananthapuram temple of Kasargod district. Who had a desire to have a darshan of Lord Vishnu. It is believed Vishnu in the form of a mischievous boy destroyed the idol upon which Swamiyar got enraged on the boy and he disappears thereafter.
-Swamiyar knew that boy was himself the Vishnu, after which he asked forgiveness and asked for another darshan after he heard an eternal voice (“If you want to see me come to the Anathavana(now Thiruvananthapuram). Swamiyar set on the religious journey and reached the shores of Lakshadweep sea, over there he heard a voice of lady warning her child to throw him in Ananthankadu.
-Swamiyar got delighted on hearing the name Ananthankadu and enquire the directions. He reached Ananthankadu where he saw a boy getting merged into illupa tree(Butter tree) after that tree fell down and formed into Anantha Sayana Moorti(Vishnu resting on the eternal snake). The form of Vishnu was in extraordinary size, his head was at Thiruvattar, body at Thiruvanathapuram rest at Thrippadapuram(temples location present day).
-Swamiyar requested the lord to shrank his size and this form could be seen in the temple.
-The spot where Swamiyar had the darshan of lord belongs to Kookpakkara Potti and Karuva Potti whom Lord Parshuram provided the administration of the temple.
-On the Northwest of the temple the Nagaraja temple exists, to the west of temple samadhi of Sage Swamiyar on which a Krishna Temple was built known Vilvamangalam Sri Krishna Swami Temple.
Royal Family of Travancore
In the 18th Century, Anizham Thirunal Marthananda Varma took the throne after his uncle Rama Verma and suppressed the 700-year-old grip of Ettuveetil Pillamar(Lord of 8 houses who were associated with the temple) when learned about their conspiracies against the family).
After the Marthananda Varma took over the administration of the temple and renovation of the temple started in 1731 CE after it as damage in a fire accident in 1684 C.E.
On 17 January 1731, he surrendered the Travancore kingdom to the Lord Padmanabhaswamy and declared him and his descendants as Padmanabha Dasa. The female members of the Travancore family were known to be as Padmanabha Sevinis.The donation made to the temple made by the family known as Thrippadidanam.
Marthanda Varma on Passing away stated that “That no deviation whatsoever should be made in regard to the dedication of the kingdom to Padmanabhaswamy Temple and that all future territorial acquisitions should be made over to the Devaswom“.
Lord Padmanabhasamy Temple Structure:
In the Garbgriha, Lord Padmanabha reclines on Adishesha Nag and their Right-hand rests over Shiva lingam is placed. Adjacent to idols of Sridevi, Bhudevi is there, from the Lord Navels, Brahma emerges from the Lotus.
The deity of Lord Padmanabhaswamy is made of 12,008 Saligrammams, these were brought by Marthananda Varma from the Gandak River and is covered with Katusarkara yogam – a special paste to keep the deity clean.
The Vimanam of the deity is made up of single stone from rock of Tirumala known as Ottakkal-mandapam.
Since aren’t allowed inside the temple we don’t have a photo of the deity
Thekkedom and Thiruvambadi are the other 2 shrines of Ugra Narsimha and Krishna Swami. The Thiruvambadi has its own mandapam and is made up of granite. On the days of Ekadasi, the idol is dressed as Mohini. One can see Shrines of Rama along with Sita, Lakshmana and Hanuman, Vyasa Ganapati, Kshetrapala.
2 Grand Idols of Garuda and Hanuman is there in the temple premises.
The Padmanabhasamy temple has 100 ft tall and 7-tier gopuram designed as a unique blend of Pandian and Cheran Style Architecture. There are around 365 pillars with elaborate carvings on them.
Festivals and Rituals
2 important festivals celebrated in Padnamabhasamy temple is Alpashy and Panguni.
Alpashy is celebrated during oct-nov and Panguni between March-April which celebrated for 10 days, on 9th day of this, the Maharaja of Travancore as Thrippappoor Mooppan escorts the deity to vettakkalam for Pallivetta. The festivals end with a holy bath(known as Aarat) of deities in the Shankumugham Beach, the procession is escorted by the Maharaja barefoot.
The idols of Lord Padmanabhaswamy, Narsimha & Krishna Swami are bath in sea as per the rituals and established into the temple again after a traditional Pujas, commemorating the traditional festival.
It is the biggest festival of Padmanabhaswamy Temple celebrated over here in every 6 years where reciting of 3 Vedas are done for 56 days which is known as Murujapam and on the last day 1 lakh Diyas are lit up around the temple premises. The Last Laksha Deepam happened in January 2020.
Navaratri is also the major annual festival celebrated over, the idols of Saraswati Amman, Mun Uditha Nangai and Kumara Swami (Murugan) are brought in a procession to Kuthira Malika Palace in front of the temple. Swathi music festival is held during this time ever year.
The Sanyasi’s in Padmanabhaswamy Temple are from Naduvil Madhom and from Munchira Madhom and perform the Pushpanjali daily to Padmanabha, Narsimha Moorthi & Krishna Swami. Every Day the ‘Swamiyar Pushpanjali is conducted.
Periyar Nambi and Panchagavyathu Nambi along with 2 other are chief priests of the temple
Only Hindus are allowed to visit the Padmanabhaswamy temple, Male visitors have to wear White Dhoti and Female to Wear White Saree before entering into the temple.
Treasures in Temple Chambers
In 2011 during the inspection of vaults, lots of hidden gold coins and treasures were found from the Roman empire, European empire whose estimate is around 3 lakh crore and all of them are made of pure old which were used for decoration of idols.
As of now only Vaults A, C&E has been open from 6 vaults of the temple and Vault B is still closed it said that around 50 trillion of wealth could still be there in Vault B. Vault D& F estimates to around 350 cr approx. The approx value of hidden treasures makes the Padmanbhaswamy temple as the world richest Temple.
On the gate of Vault B, there is serpent over it & the temple priests and the royal family of Travancore says it shouldn’t be opened as it may bring dooms according to the legend.
The Curse on Vault B- A untold Mystery??
Out of 6 vaults of the temple, 5 have been opened C, E, F are regularly opened for the decoration of deities for the Gold items kept in it, but a Vault B still needs to be opened.
It is believed that Sages and Devas are still worshipping to Lord Balarama in Vault B and any attempt to open this Kallara would bring dooms, as there is image of a serpent on the door of Kallara and Ugra Narasimha of Thekkedom( an avatar of Lord Vishnu is safeguarding the Vault).
This belief got strong of IPS Sundarajan( petitioner in Kerala HC against the Royal Family) untimely death. In 1930 some invaders tried to attack and opened the vault B but they failed as numerous Cobras came in their way.
A century ago when the Travancore was facing the famine and other natural calamities the authorities tried to opened the gate of Vault B, but they heard ocean waves behind the door and believed that the gate might be connected to the Arabian Sea.
As per the legend, the chamber is locked strong Naga Paasam Mantras and any saint of very high Calibre can unlock it by chanting Garuda Purana.
Before independence, the Padmanabhaswamy Temple administration was under Travancore and Cochin Devaswom Boards which worked under the Royal family of Travancore.
But after the Independence when the princely state of Travancore merged into India, Balarama Varma II demanded that the administration of the Padnabhswamy temple should remain with the royal family of Travancore and should not be given to Trust like the other temples in India, therefore, Travancore Kochi Religious Insititution Act of 1951 was passed.
Controversies related to Padmanabhasamy Temple Administration
After the death of Balarama Varma II in 1991, his brother Utradam Thirunal Marthanda Varma took over the management of the temple. , after which legal fight started.
After Independence temples and religious places were considered as the public property, where the legal fight started with the Royal family of Travancore that the temple administration should be provided to the government.
After some statements made by Marthanda Varma that the temple asset belongs to the Royal family of Travancore, after which many devotees and Ex- IPS officer Sundarajan lodged PIL against the family to transfer of temple administration to govt).
In 2011 Kerala HC directed that there would be no participation of Royal Family of Travancore in Padmanabhasamy temple administration, this time the secret vaults of the temple were being opened and this made high-level debate because of the assets of the temple.
High -Court ordered the Kerala government to constitute a committee who would look over the administration of the temple as per Article 366(22).
After this, to the Royals raised this to Supreme court and in May 2011 and the Supreme court stayed with Kerala HC decision and ordered to make an inventory of temple assets and constituted a committee for administration the Temple.
In 2013 Utradam Thirunal Marthanda Varma Died and he was succeeded by his nephew(as there is a matrilinear succession in Travancore).
In July 2020, SC accepted the shebait rights to the successor of Thiruval Marthananda Varma, and he can manage the Lord Padmanabhasamy temple administration, but cannot declare himself as a king of Travancore.
The Supreme Court also ordered to constitute:-
Administrative committee:-which would be headed by the district judge for the temple management however the main member would be appointed by the Royal Family.
Advisory Committee:- which will have all Hindus as it members and would be headed by High Court Judge, and would decide upon the unlocking of Vault B and preserving the temple assets.
Entry and Offerings at the Padmanabhaswamy Temple
The entry to the Padmanabhaswamy temple complex is free for Darshan, you have to wait for your turn in queue. For VIP entry you can pay Rs 180(per head) with prasad to bypass the waiting time in queue.
Aravana, Payasam, & Unniyapam are the temple offerings which are offered Sri Padmanabhasamy, Krishna and Narasimha
Reaching Padmanabhaswamy Temple
Trivandrum is well connected by Train, Road and Air and the temple is just 3 km away from the Trivandrum Railway Station.
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