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Wednesday, April 14, 2021

SC upholds right of royal family in Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple: All you need to know

The Supreme Court on Monday issued a decision that upheld the rights of the erstwhile royal family of Travancore in the administration of Sree Padmanabhaswamy temple in Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala. For the unversed, the controversy over the administration of the historic temple has been pending for the last nine years and the SC verdict has finally put an end to the dispute.

In 2011, the Kerala High Court ordered that the rights of the royal family ceased to exist after the death of the last ruler of Travancore in 1991. However, as per SC in its latest ruling, the death of the last ruler will not result in revocation of rights of the family in favour of the Kerala government. It should be noted that the temple was rebuilt in its present form in the 18th century by the Travancore Royal House which ruled Southern Kerala and some parts of Tamil Nadu till 1947.

Interestingly, the temple came into limelight for being one of the richest temples in the country after the discovery of wealth locked in ‘kallaras’ (vaults) for centuries. Now as SC ruled in the favour of the royal family, did you know about these five facts about Kerala’s iconic landmarks, which is full of marvels and interesting facts?

Blend of the Dravidian and indigenous Kerala architecture

If you must have seen, the Sree Padmanabhaswamy temple is quite tall in height, unlike other Kerala’s other temples. Well, this is because the temple is heavily influenced by the Dravidian style of architecture. Hence, it resembles a lot of the temples in the neighbouring state of Tamil Nadu featuring tall gopuram and high walls and intricate carvings.

Houses the royal crown of Travancore

The presiding deity of the Padmanabhaswamy temple is Lord Padmanabha (Vishnu), who is also the ‘ruler’ of Travancore. He was ‘crowned’ as the Emperor of Travancore in the 18th century and members of the royal family rule on his behalf. Therefore, the royal crown of Travancore has been preserved inside the temple.

Richest temple in the world

It was in 2011 that a treasure in Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple was discovered in its cellars and it was valued $1 trillion at the time of its revelation. It made the Padmanabhaswamy Temple the richest in the world. For you to estimate, the entire Mughal treasury at the zenith of its power could be valued at $90 billion.

Host to the Laksha Deepam festival

The Laksha Deepam festival is the biggest festival of the Padmanabhaswamy temple and it is hosted once every six years in January. It gets its name from the lighting of a hundred thousand (one lakh or Laksha) lamps inside the temple on the day of Makar Sankranti. The day marks the end of 12 Bhadradeepams, a seven-day ritual that is held twice every year. A grand procession of Padmanabha, Narasimha and Krishna is also taken out on Garudavahana (Vishnu’s mythical eagle).

Presiding deity made of fossilized shells

At the centre of the Padmanabhaswamy temple, one can see an image of Padmanabha or Vishnu reclining on the serpent Anantha or Adi Sesha. His right hand is placed over a Shiva lingam and he is flanked by Lakshmi, the goddess of prosperity and Bhudevi, the goddess of Earth. From his navel, once can see Bramha emanating. For the uninitiated, this image of Vishnu is made of 12,000 shaligrams or fossilized shells that can be traced back to the banks of Nepal’s Gandaki River.

Have you visited the temple yet? If not, head to W Nada, East Fort, Kerala 695023.

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