Travancore royal against 'commercialisation' of temple treasures

Travancore royal against 'commercialisation' of temple's

Thiruvananthapuram: A member of the royal family of Travancore said on Monday he is against the 'commercialisation' of God's sacred riches, as he deprecated a government proposal for displaying the treasures of the Sree Padmanabhaswamy temple at a museum.

Aditya Varma, a member of the royal family which once owned and managed the centuries-old shrine dedicated to Lord Padmanabha, said it is against any plan to shift the treasures out of the temple complex located in the heart of the Kerala capital.

He, however, said 3D images of select rare jewels, now kept in sacred vaults of the temple, could be displayed at a facility on the shrine precincts itself.

Varma said that also should be done with the consent of the 'tantri,' the head priest, and other people concerned.

He said the Centre and the state government had approached the family with the proposal for a museum where these articles could be kept.

Union minister of tourism Alphons Kannanthanam and his state counterpart Kadakampally Surendran recently brought before the family a proposal to set up a hi-tech museum to exhibit the rare treasures of the temple, Varma told PTI.

"But we have made it clear that we are against any kind of commercialisation of sacred temple treasures. Devotees also have concerns in this regard," he said.

Varma said the matter relating to the temple's wealth and other affairs was pending before the Supreme Court and nobody can take a final decision on shifting the articles before its disposal by the apex court.

He said the Union and the state governments proposed to set up a hi-tech museum on a land parcel owned by the royal family near the shrine.

"We are not in favour of taking the jewellery out of the temple complex. As both the governments are for displaying the temple treasures at the musuem, it is okay to showcase 3D images of select ornaments there. But that should be done without violating the traditions of the shrine and hurting the sentiments of devotees," he said.

Varma also voiced apprehension about the safety of the treasures if taken out of the temple complex.

Echoing his sentiment, Krishnan, an ardent devotee, said Lord Padmanabha's jewels are not for exhibiting in a museum.

"Even now, people who come from various parts of the country first ask about the treasures instead of going for darshan. Once the museum comes up we do not know what will happen," he said.

The sprawling temple, an architectural marvel in granite, was in news after the discovery of priceless treasures in its secret vaults.

Five of its six cellars, closed for several decades, were ordered to be opened by the Supreme Court to prepare an inventory while considering a private petition in 2011.

According to sources, a vast collection of gold and silver ornaments, coins, silver and brass platters, crowns studded with precious stones, glittering gold-coated parasols and may other objects of great intrinsic and antique value were reportedly found in the vaults. By some accounts, these are worth over Rs 1 lakh crore.

Lord Padmanabha is the family deity of the Travancore royals, who dedicated their kingdom to him and vowed to live as the Lord's 'dasas' (servants).

The ancient shrine is now managed by a Supreme Court- appointed committee headed by an additional district judge.