The great hunt is on and each day crores of value worth antiques are unraveled from the hidden chests and dark chambers of the great Sree Padmanabha Swamy Temple. Its really mesmerizing to read all about the treasure and its hidden coffers in such an ancient monument and engineering marvel.
South Indian temples really fascinate me, its grandiose structure and innate work and fine grained artistry really entices me. These temple just shows the passion of people who conceived this structures and passion of people who worked for them to make it as they are – a resilient structures which can withstand 1000 years of time and tide.
Sree Padmanabha Swamy temple is relatively a young temple compared to great Chola or Pallava monuments in Tamil Nadu. The great temples in Tanjore, Chidambaram, Gangai Konda Cholavaram, Kumbakonam really bowl me over when I stand before them like a kid with eyes and mouth wide open.
Its really no surprise that so much of treasure is hidden beneath the stone structure of Padmanabha Swamy temple. In fact each and every ancient temple in South India surely would have had such secret treasure troves, but alas now everything is lost because either being looted by British or invading Muslim Kings and if they have survived those stooges our own people might have siphoned off them. The crux is we Indians don’t take pride in such structures nor do we care about these marvels. Many people loathe going to temple for various reason – being an atheist or aversion to crowd or laziness to travel and many other silly reasons. No wonder in Chidambaram you see lot foreigners with cameras than Indians with camera. They are fascinated by them than us.
Coming to this unraveling story of treasures in Padmanabha Swamy Temple – what will happen to them? Now that secret is out in the open vested interests in different quarters may be frothing in their mouth to take control of temple or to seize a nickel out of it and keep it in their showcase or worse siphon it off for money. Remember the price being derived is just based on current market rates, if you add the antique value of these pieces it may run into more crores in value. But it would also be insane to argue that these whole thing is proprietary of one family now. These treasures are not earned by them, they might have been got as gifts to the state, as tax and wealth of the state. So today a family cannot come and claim them because of a lineage. Its like our Prime Minister claiming rights on India’s economy. I feel it belongs to the people of Kerala and its upto the people be proud about it, be passionate about it and care about it and preserve it for generations.
Sree Padmanabha Swamy temple is one of those finest temples out there where a visit can really calm your soul and soothe you. Its ranks high in the way its maintained and run. A big kudos to the Royal family and the trust which does it – after all they never got tempted to loot the treasures till now. Alas that today we have denigrated to such a passé that arbid ego clashes and petty interests have lead to this skull drudgery of a situation and we have no one to blame but ourselves [read Hindus] for such an impasse. From here if an ordinance is promulgated and secular Congress party decides to put a secular person [like Mr. George Joseph or Mr. Mohammed Haji] in the trust running the temple we just have to live with it.
Now the question is next what? What to do with the treasure – should we use it for eradicating poverty or negating some of our fiscal deficit or implement NREGA with that? Anything can happen in this country. I am sure some insane voices would opine that now that people know about the treasures they are not safe where they are and should be put in bank vaults. Nothing can be disastrous than that. We have smart people in this country who even though cannot be creative can easily be creative enough to make fakes and swap the real ones. Hope we won’t tread that path. I personally would like them to maintained where they are and status quo maintained on it. Or even if they can make some great fool-proof arrangement to exhibit them and open the chambers for public that would also be good (something like public viewing every year say, for 2 weeks and then they are back to the chambers). I personally would like to see them and more than the treasure I would be excited in seeing the secret chamber and its security plugs.
Its not clear as to what will happen to the temple or the treasures – a handful of cronies and their ego will decide its fate. But thank god they can’t take the Lord away or take the shrine itself away. Those two are enough for mere mortals like me to be happy about.
A walk in the alleys of this sacred temple is enough to transpire you to another realm, to mesmerize you about our rich history and culture and hope a day will not come when they won’t even allow to do that!