Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple Thiruvananthapuram and its treasures

Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple is one of the most important Vaishnavite Temples in India. The city carrying the name of Anantha later became Thiruvananthapuram. Due to the presence of this temple, Thiruvananthapuram even had a name "Ananthasayanam".

Vilwamangalam Swamiyar who was roaming in search of Sree Krishna, reached Ananthan Kaadu and there, Vishnu appeared in front of him in the form of Ananthasayana. Swamiyar plucked some tender mangoes from a nearby mango tree and gave it to Vishnu as his offering. Vishnu accepted that offering and was pleased. This is what the tales tell.
Hearing that Vishnu appeared before Swamiyar, the King himself came there. He then built the temple at the place where Vishnu had appeared. Nanmazhvar had recited poems praising the Temple, during 9th century, which indicates that the temple had already attained a high reputation then.

But history doesnt tell that the temple was made by the Royal Family. It is because the temple was ruled by 7 Namboodiris , Azhakathu Kurup and Venad King. The King had only a half position in what was called "Ettara Yogam" which means there are 8 1/2 Positions. During those periods, Brahmins were a power almost as strong as the Kings.

In 1376, King AdithyaVarma Sarvanganathan renovated the temple. Later, King Ravi Varman introduced a lot of rules and regulations in the administration of the temple. Still, Padmanabhaswamy remained as the Family Diety of Venad Royal Family.

Years later, the Kings made "Madams" for special poojas at the temple. It was after this that the "Ettu Veettil Pillamar" came into prominence. They became very strong and even the king couldnt override them in temple matters. It was Umayamma Rani who later reclaimed the lost prowess of the temple and after that, the temple matters never went out of the hands of the Royal Family.
Translation from "Keralathile Pradhana kshethrangaliloode" by Kunjikuttan Ilayathu.

The Idol of Sree Padmanabhaswamy
The Idol of Sree Padmanabha Swamy is made of Kadusarkkara Yogam, an ayurvedic mixture, with Vishnu sleeping on the serpent Ananta with his head pointing towards south, facing east. The idol is made up of 12000 salagramams that compose the reclining figure. They are considered extraordinary because they are from Nepal, from the banks of the Gandhaki river, and they were allegedly brought to the temple by elephant in an elaborate ceremony. On top of them, “katusarkara yogam”, navaratnams, a special ayurvedic mix, was used to create plaster. Followers believe that the Lord has personally come in disguise and had saved the Travancore Kingdom from enemy attack on multiple occasions.
Treasures of Sree Padmanabha Swamy Temple

In late June 2011, a review of the temple's underground vaults was undertaken by a seven-member panel appointed by the Supreme Court of India to generate an inventory, leading to the discovery of a vast hidden collection. Estimates suggest that the temple could be the richest in the world; unofficial estimates on the sixth day of the inventory placed the value of contents at close to Indian Rupee symbol.svg100,000 crore (US$22.3 billion).

The riches come from the donations that were made by the Royal family and traders, who used to come from other parts of the country and abroad, as offerings to the deity, and were sealed within the thick stone walls and vaults of the temple for over a millennium.  Zee news reported that the value of the Ancient offerings made to the lord Padmanabhaswamy may be in excess of 500000 crore ( USD$ 100 Billion). The temple is now considered wealthier than the Tirumala Venkateswara Temple in Tirupati, Andhra Pradesh – by official records considered to be the richest shrine in India

The temple that houses a sleeping idol of Lord Vishnu is the richest temple in the world. Treasure worth Rs 100,000 crore was recently found in secret chambers on temple land. Golden crowns, 17 kg of gold coins, 18 ft long golden necklace weighing 2.5 kg, gold ropes, sack full of diamonds, thousands of pieces of antique jewellery, and golden vessels were some of the treasures unearthed during the weekend.

The main treasure found was a one foot (12 angulams) height golden idol of Lord Mahavishnu and a 30 kg golden ‘anki’. This golden idol of Lord Vishnu is believed to be the replica of the ‘utsava vigraham' used in the temple. The golden idol of Padmanabhaswamy studded with more than 1000 previous stones is valued to around Rs. 500 Crore. Another golden idol of Lord Sree Krishna was also found which weighs around 5 kg. Several golden coins were also unearthed which are believed to be issued during the reign of Krishnadeva Rayar in the 16th century AD. Numerous golden ornaments which were used to adorn the main deity were also found in the Vault marked A. Ornaments studded with emeralds were also found on Saturday. Numerous golden human figurine weighing 1 kg, golden bangles, golden rope, are other interesting treasure found in the Vishnu Temple.  Two coconut shells made of pure gold were also found. One of this golden coconut shell was students with rare antique stones including emeralds and rubies.

The treasures are to be kept safe in the temple itself with a tight security.

Travancore Royal Family
The Travancore ruling family follows a matrilineal tradition. So there was no dowry going out for grooms' families when the dynasty's girls got married, and money remained in the family. The dynasty was also hailed as a progressive one among India's princely states. It introduced English education in the state in the early 19th Century (the first kingdom in southern India to do so), opened the gates of all temples - including Sree Padmanabhaswamy - to the lower castes and untouchables in 1936, and abolished capital punishment in 1946. (Of course, this was reinstated after India became independent the following year.)  The current Maharajah of Travancore has been the managing trustee of the temple

Festivals of Sree Padmanabha Swamy Temple
The two annual festivals of the Padmanabhaswamy Temple culminate in a grand procession, in which the three deities (Padmanabha, Narasimha and Krishna) are carried on flower-deck and aesthetically decorated Garuda Vahanas to Shankumugham Beach, for “arattu” (sacramental ablution). The arattu days are declared as local public holidays in Thiruvanathapuram.

Belief about Padmanabhaswamy Temple

Padmanabhaswamy Temple stands at a place considered one of the seven Parasurama Kshetras; texts including the Puranas, particularly the Skanda Purana and Padma Purana, have references to this shrine. Another story tells of a pulaya couple seeing Vishnu in the form of a child. The child took morsels of rice from the hands of the couple. Also it is believed that Divakaramuni, when he saw the deity, took the first food item he saw which was an unripe Mango on a coconut shell as an offering plate and performed primary pooja. To this day, the naivedyam or offering of unripe mango is offered to the deity here in the same coconut shell that Divakara Muni offered his prasadam to the Lord.

History of Sree Padmanabhaswamy temple

Sree Padmanabhaswamy temple is known for its architectural elegance and long rows of granite columns with exquisite engravings, have Lord Vishnu reclining on the multiple-headed serpent Anantha as the presiding deity. This temple is one of the famous Hindu temple dedicated to god Vishnu maintained by the erstwhile Travancore Royal Family and located inside East Fort in the city of Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala state, South India. The temple is considered to be one of 108 Divya Desams (Holy Abodes), which are principal centres of worship in Vaishnavism. The date of the temple is unknown, but the temple is mentioned in the ancient writings of the Alwars (6th-9th centuries AD), and renovations are thought to have taken place until the 18th century. Lord Padmanabhaswamy is enshrined here in Anananthasayanam posture (in eternal sleep of yognidra). The main idol inside the sanctum sanctorum and viewed from three doors is in the reclining posture.

The local legend tell the story of Sage Vilvamangalam's first darshan of Lord Vishnu as Padmanabha who crashed upon his path as a tree before revealing himself as the infinite power.  Praised by Anantha, the five headed serpent, the Lord was persuaded by the sage to stay in the city. His massive form reclining on the heads of Anantha, is believed to have extended and exactly covered the area that was to be Thiruvananthapuram. Marthandavarma, the well known Maharaja of Travancore (note that the state of Kerala was formed by the integration of 3 princely states - Travancore, Kochi and Malabar) dedicated his Kingdom to Sree Padmanabhaswami with the capital at Padmanabhapuram in the south. His successor Maharaja Ramavarma in 1795 shifted the capital to the present city of Thiruvanathapuram.   In spite of its political importance it is really heartening to see this wonderful city retaining its original charm and continues to hold all it's rich heritage in tact. The roads and buildings here are grander than the other Kerala Cities. This city boasts even of connections with King Solomon, whose ships said to have landed in a mysterious place called Ophir.
Traders were said to have been coming here as far back as 190 AD for spices, ivory, etc.

Since Independence, the temple has been controlled by a trust run by the descendants of the Travancore royal family. After 1947 the kingdom of Travancore merged with the princely state of Cochin, which eventually became the present-day state of Kerala. The members of the Travancore royal family consider themselves to be servants of the presiding deity at the temple, Padmanabhaswamy, which is an aspect of the Hindu God Vishnu in eternal sleep. This is why they historically entrusted their wealth to the temple.


There are many legends regarding the origin of the temple. One such legend says that Vilvamangalathu Swamiyar alias Divakara Muni prayed to Krishna for his darshan. Krishna came in disguise as a small, mischievous boy. The boy swallowed the Saligrama which was kept in Puja. The Sage became enraged at this and chased the boy until the boy hid himself behind a tree. The tree fell down and became Vishnu in Anantha Shayanam (reclining posture on Anantha the serpent) – but when he did so, he was of an extraordinarily large size. The Sage, recognizing that the tree was Vishnu, pleaded that because of the huge form the lord had manifested before him he could not either have a mind fulfilling darshan or circumambulate him. He then asked the Lord to shrink to a smaller proportion – thrice the length of his staff. Immediately, the Lord Vishnu shrunk himself, and told the sage that he should be worshipped through three doors. These doors are now the doors in the temple through which the idol may be viewed. Through the first door, the worship is offered to Shiva; through the second entrance to Brahma on the Lord's lotus navel, and through the third is Vishnu's feet, which are said to lead to salvation.
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