The story of the Padmanabhaswamy temple has been a mystery to people living around it. There are many stories, films, and documentaries about this film, trying to explore and explain its treasure. Indiana Jones and Ali Baba – the Forty Thieves are the best movies that are weaved around this temple. According to the ancient mysterious texts, the temple has a total of 6 vaults that are shrouded, accordingly. The legend says that an ancient curse has been defiled on the temple. All the treasure of the temple is said to be stored in 7 different vaults. There have been many attempts across the world in order to open the temple but all of them, to futile. In 1930, various hunters planned to open the temple; only to die under the serpents that emerged from the vaults. So, the question is, is this temple really cursed?
Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple – Introduction:
Sree Padmanabhaswamy temple is a temple, dedicated to Lord Vishnu. It is a shrine located in Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala, India. Today, it is run by the head of a Travancore royal family. The descendants of Kulashekhara Alwar, a famous man who helped in the construction of the temple run the temple, as Cheras and Maharajahs. The temple has a brilliant architecture, fashioned out of Tamil and Kerala style. As a result, it shares similarity with the ‘Kovil’ of Tamil Nadu as well as the fort culture of Kerala. The temple has high walls, a Gopuram, and a Moolasthanam. Most of the architects felt that this temple is a replica of the famous Sri Adikesavaperumal Temple, located at Thiruvattar, Kanyakumari. The geographical location of the temple is said to be in Kumbala, Kasargod District.
Among all the things, this temple is known for having a vault that can’t be opened by any human. The temple has Vishnu, as the principal deity in the ‘Anantha Shayanam’; the yogic sleeping posture on Adhishesan, the serpent. Therefore, it is said the reincarnation of Lord Vishnu will only have the power to open the door. Till then, all the attempts to open the vault through man-made technology will only result in catastrophes around the temple. Vault B of the temple should be open only through mystic chanting so that there won’t be any harm by the serpents. There are no reliable historical texts, about the origin of the Sree Padmanabhaswamy temple. But few historians like Dr. L.A. Ravi Varma have told that the temple is established around 5000 years ago, during the first day of Kali Yuga.
Painting by Raja Ravi Varma depicting Richard Temple-Grenville, 3rd Duke of Buckingham and Chandos being greeted by Visakham Thirunal, with Ayilyam Thirunal of Travancore looking on, during Buckingham’s visit to Thiruvananthapuram, Travancore in early 1880.
History of Padmanabhaswamy Temple:
The Temple has references in Epics and Puranas. Srimad Bhagavatha says that Balarama visited this Temple, bathed in Padmatheertham and made several offerings. Many hymns praising Lord Padmanabha has been composed by Nammalwar who was a 9th-century poet. As per one legend, the idol temple was made divine by a Tulu Brahmin hermit named Divakara Muni. After 950 years of the start of Kaliyuga, the idol was reinstalled. According to the locals the Travancore kings stored immense riches within the thick stone walls and vaults of the temple. The temple is controlled by a trust run by the descendants of the Travancore royal family since Independence. The kingdom of Travancore merged with the princely state of Cochin after 1947. It eventually became the present-day state of Kerala. The inspection of the temple began after India’s Supreme Court appointed a seven-member panel to enter and assess the value of the objects stored in its cellars, including the two chambers last thought to have been opened about 150 years ago.
The actual legends of the Padmanabhaswamy temple are handed to the generations through the centuries. The temple has few moral principles of not allowing people who do not profess Hindu faith in it. As a result, they follow a dress code where women were asked to wear sarees while men should drape dhotis around them. As the statistics say, it is one of the richest Hindu Temples in the world where precious stones and metals from previous centuries are found. Also, it is one of the wealthiest institutions in India for worshipping, beating the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam. But where did all this wealth come from? The 16th-century kinds of Travancore have managed to store the treasures in vaults made of thin walls. Out of their speculation about treasure being stolen, they have come up with various security methods, which are misinterpreted as curses.
The mythology of Vaults – Padmanabhaswamy Temple:
The temple is known to be constructed in an amazing style. The southwest part of the temple is constructed at Chuttambalam where Lord Balarama is believed to donate cows to the people in his village. This particular area is titled as Mahabharatakonam. Both the vaults, Kallara A and Kallara B are located in this area. According to a popular legend, many Devas and Sages who visited Lord Balarama on Padmateertham requested him to let them reside there. Granting their wish, he gave the Kallara B to them in order to worship the Lord. Naga Devathas and Kanjirottu Yakshi, the ones who enchants form the painting on the Sanctum are believed to reside in this Kallara. Impressed by their bhakti, Lord Vishnu has given the Sreechakram to them to install it in this Kallara to enhance the potency of the lord, residing in it. The Kallar B is said to be protected by Lord Ugra Narasimha, Thekkedom. The serpent image on the door indicates that there is a danger to anyone who opens it.
In 2001, many archaeologists opened the underground chambers and came to know that there are a total of six chambers. But, they failed to open it. 5 out of the 6 vaults of the temple are open in June 2011. These vaults are opened as per the orders of Supreme Court of India. There has been a private petition by people in order to have transparency about the running of this temple. As a result, the Supreme Court has come up with a committee of seven members to open the six vaults along with the Head Trustee of the temple. After digging for almost 20 feet, they have found a treasure of worth $22 billion including 66-pound coconut shells, made of gold, , and rubies.
These six chambers are labeled as A to F, as the temple priests loved to label them. They have indeed found some startling elements inside where they found gold coins that dated back to thousands of years. The necklaces which were found are around nine feet long, each one weighing around 2.5 kg. Apart from that, they have found a yellow metal in the shape of sticks and trinkets, sacks of diamonds, gold ropes and thousands of antique jewelry as well. Many diamonds, crowns, and other stones are marked in the ‘A’ chamber. In the words of CS Rajan, the High court Judge of Kerala; ‘All these things were strewn and scattered everywhere’. The 75-year-old said that he was shocked to see that these things are not arranged properly and are found in earthen pots, copper pots, small baskets. He added that “It was a magnificent experience. There are no words to describe it.”
The story of Vault B (Kallara):
There were gold coins, daring to the East India company period of total 7 Kg, 18 heavy coins from Napoleon’s era, precious stones formed in bundles and over 1000 kgs of gold. There were many sovereigns that have the 1772 seal, saying that they are under the reign of Karthika Thirunal Rama Varma. On the day the first vault was opened, the court team also tried to open a second, known as Kallara B. However, the door, with its heavily rusted, old-fashioned lock with three levers requiring three separate keys, was jammed shut. “It is a peculiar kind of old-time lock, and it is very much rusted,” said Rajan. “The blacksmith could not open it, and we did not want to break open the door, being a part of the temple and all.”
- Vault A – When Supreme Court of India ordered to open vaults of the temple, a court-appointed committee opened the vaults on 30 June 2011 and entered vault A. The members unlocked an iron grille and a heavy wooden door. After 5-6 steps beneath, they found a dark room which had the treasure. The various items found were scattered everywhere. The items included copper pots, baskets, earthen pots and all of them were containing many valuable objects.
- Vault B – Vault B has not been opened presumably for centuries. The Supreme Court appointed committee members opened the metal-grille door to Vault B and discovered a sturdy wooden door just behind it. They opened this door as well and encountered a third door made of iron, which was jammed shut. The observers considered forcing their way in, but deemed this improper; they decided to hire a locksmith. Then in mid-July, before the locksmith came, the royal family got an injunction from the Supreme Court against opening vault B.
- Vaults C, D, E, and F – Vaults C, D, E, and F are in the custody of the temple priests and have been/are opened at least eight times every year and the contents stored in them are routinely taken out for use on special ceremonial occasions.
- Vaults G and H – Vaults G and H remain closed for centuries believably as of May 2016 but have been opened in late 1800′s and it also had valuables which have been documented at that time.
- The main vault is Vault B which is said to have treasures double to what was found in Vault A.
Legend of 7th Door – Padmanabhaswamy Temple:
There are just too many theories behind the 7th door of Shree Padmanabhaswamy Temple out of which most of them are just rumors while few of them are believed to be true.
- The Curse: The first ruling of the Supreme Court has given us acess to the wealth of the temple, under the judgment of TP Sunder Rajan who filed a petition in the Kerala court. Sunder Rajan’s death made people believe that there’s a curse on the people who are opening the vault. Further, whoever tries to open the vault will have this curse inscribed on them. The death of one of the observers’ mothers and the leg accident of another observer has reinforced these beliefs. The residents who used to live around the temple also recalled stories about ocean exploding on the opening of the vault door.
- Snake God Theory (Naga Bandam): Most of the beliefs that are around the B-vault are because of the engravings present on the door. The seventh vault of the temple contains two large cobras in order to represent the decline of the diety. The temple itself is engraved with many snakes, and a lord Vishnu resting on the snake. According to the lawyer of the royal family, there have been many incidents about the temple when officials tried to retrieve the valuables but are put to death by the cobras. Stories hence abound of how the door is protected by the snake-god, and can only be opened by sadhus chanting the ‘Garuda Mantra’, the only hitch being there was no such siddhpurus in India. If the vault was opened using man-made techniques, it would lead to catastrophes, Hindu mythology experts had felt.
- Ocean Theory: Around a century back, the entire Thiruvananthapuram region is stuck with a major famine. All the officials had tried to open the chamber door but stopped on hearing the water. The story then proceeded to how the vault has been connected to the Arabian Sea. According to the legends, the 7th door of the vault has a secret passage to the insides of the Arabian Sea where the treasure of the Travancore kingdom is placed. Based on the geographical location, the kings use to treasure their wealth both in the vault and as well as the sea so that it can’t be found by people who invade the kingdom. During the 1990s, few king officials have tried to open the chamber but on hearing the rushing water; they have decided not to proceed. The story further proceeded that the vault is somehow connected to the Arabian sea through Engineering techniques and as soon as it is opened, it will flood the entire city causing a major havoc. Scientifically speaking, temples are large places reserved in public areas for taking rest, attaining peace of mind and to regulate positive waves. Adding to the concepts given, kings preserved money from foreign invaders and sometimes reserved it for future generations. Therefore, it is only valid for them to build this kind of engineering given the advanced science and architecture, they had then.
- Vaasthu: “It is ideal that we keep the B vault locked. The treasures stored in that vault that is located below the deity’s head are protected by taming of micro-natural forces by tantric experts for ensuring its safe upkeep. If anyone dares to open that vault, it would trigger off a series of troubles”, Vaasthu expert K Muraleedharan Nair had then opined. The Varmas, who have been the rulers of Travancore have opposed the opening of the vault B in order to cite the fear among the audience. They confirmed that opening the vault will disturb the spiritual energy of the temple and therefore, the diety will be in angry. “They believe death will visit them if vault B would be opened,” KK Venugopal, a family lawyer, told the judges during a Supreme Court hearing. “They are extremely concerned something may happen to them.
The context of 7th Door – Padmanabhaswamy Temple:
As on records were given by Mr. Vinod Rai, the CAG of India, it is proven that the vault B of the temple has some problems. The Royal Family of Travancore is known for opposing the opening of the temple as well as their administrators.
- Hatch writes in her book titled “Guide to Travancore: 1931”, “They tried to open the cobra gates of the temple but failed so, but were faced by millions of cobras and snakes of shrimp variety. They were chased for life”. This incident occurred in 1908 and 1931 too according to the author.
- But the book, only formal record of the vault opening did mention about cobras and snakes being infested in the chamber which we are referring to as Vault B.
- Vaishnavism books clearly state that the Maharaja of Travancore was a Vaishnavite who devoted the temple to deity lord Padmanabhan and himself became the servant. This clearly states that the chambers were inventories of donations of Vishnu followers from all over the world especially the Sangam Era kingdoms of Chola, Chera, Pandyas.
It is said that the vault has been opened in 1931, where cobras came out. But, the question is how did the cobras survive so long without the basic necessities for so many years in the chamber? The snakes are fed by external people, or snakes have another way out to an unknown location. Maybe as per the ocean theory, the vault is connected to a confidential location through a secret tunnel, be it a forest or an ocean.
So much of treasure in terms of quality and quantity can’t be brought inside the temple with millions of people looking at it. It must have been confidentially fed in. Thus revealing a secret tunnel. So the small antechambers can connect all the vaults to one common main vault called Vault B. Main reasons for this conclusion are:
- How can such a big amount of treasure survive for so many years without coming in the eye of people until 1931?
- How can the King enter tonnes of treasures without getting it mentioned not even in one of the books written by people of that time?
- How did the temple survive the British Period without being looted?
- The Vault B is the biggest secret which is to be revealed as it must have more space and necessities for cobras to survive,i.e food and water which is not possible in the chamber until someone feeds them or they go out in open more suitably a forest.
- The tunnel I’m referring to could lead to anywhere, a fort, forest anywhere but not a place currently inhabited by people because if that was the case it would have been discovered.
- So many years have passed by, the tunnel must have broken or been in a terrible state. It could have been used to get out the treasures which are currently missing as said by CAG.
Putting all of the questions aside, it is still not sure if there is an actual curse on the Padmanabhaswamy Temple. But there sure is a treasure that can feed the next generations without any doubt and the Government is trying to protect it with its might in synchronization with the ancient Engineering security methods.