Padmanabhaswamy Temple is known as the richest religious temple in the world. This temple is famous for its amazing structure, glorious history, unusual wealth and some interesting stories. Today we will learn about this temple.
In the eighteenth century, the Padmanabhaswamy temple was renovated by King Marthanda Varma, which still looks grand today. But the history of this temple is even older. While some historians describe the idols and the sculptures kept in this temple mentioned in the song of the 9th century Tamil Vaishnavite saint Nambalavar, other historians figure its details in the epic “Silapaddhikaran” written in the Sangam period.
But according to the local legends , the real hero of the story of the establishment of this temple was Saint Vilvamangalam Swamiyar. He was a great saint who is credited with laying the foundations of many temples in the Malabar region. He used to worship the Shaligram stone every day and meditate with his eyes closed to see the cosmic form of Lord Vishnu. But in the middle of meditation, every day a child come to disturb them. One day in anger, he caught the child. But even before he opened his eyes, the child told him that he was Lord Vishnu and if he wanted to see his cosmic form, then come towards Anantakadu forest.
Even after living in the Malabar region for so many years, Vilvamangalam Swamiyar had never heard the name of any such forest, so he starts following the sound of that child’s feet. On the way he sees a little crying child whose mother is threatening to leave him in the Anantakadu forest to silence him. Swamiyar Rishi asks the woman the address of Anantakadu forest.
After facing a lot of difficulties, he finally reaches near a Mahua tree. On reaching there, there is no limit to their surprise as the Mahua tree suddenly falls on the ground in front of them and he sees Lord Vishnu with Anantha-Shayana posture, reclining on Adi Sesha.
This form is so huge that one end reaches Tiruvallam and the other end reaches Tiruppapur. Swamiyar Rishi, after this wonderful vision, prays to Lord Vishnu that Lord, now you come in your small form so that I can worship you. Lord Vishnu listens to their prayer.
When the information of this darshan reaches the Maharaja of that time, he orders to build a temple there. And even today it is believed that the inner part of the Padmanabhaswamy temple was built from a fallen Mahua tree. Later on, Maharaja Martand Verma gets this temple renovated.
The temple stands in seven acres of land with four main entrances facing the prime directions. The principle deity of the temple, Sree Padmanabha Swamy, is in meditative Anantha-Shayana posture, reclining on Adi Sesha. The 18 feet long idol’s interior is filled with 1208 salagramas (sacred stones) transported from the Gandaki River in Nepal. The idol has an orientation precisely perpendicular to the East – West. Some of the additional deities of the temple are also positioned this way. The orientation along the east – west adheres to the agama design principles in the classical texts such as the samarangana sutradhara and tantrasamuchaya which recommend Vishnu temples fronting east such that the main deity of the temple is facing the rising Sun
A visual hallmark of the temple is the gopuram, a tower made of granite and brick that rises 100 feet above the ground, with a foundation that is nearly 40 feet deep. It has a pyramidal structure and rests above the main east entrance to the temple. Ornate sculptures adorn the walls of this lofty edifice. As per old temple records, the foundation of the gopuram was laid during the 16th century with the construction largely getting completed in the 18th century during the reign of the Travancore king Marthanda Varma . The temple however steeps far further back in antiquity.
The precise orientation of the gopuram becomes evident through a rare visual spectacle that unfolds twice every year. On the days of equinox, one gets to see the setting Sun passing exactly through all the window openings in the gopuram in succession, in roughly five minute intervals (see Figure). On days past the equinox, the setting Sun gets blocked by the tower structure.
Unbelievable and Immense Wealth
The practice of matrilinial succession in the Kingdom of Travancore had been going on for years. The queen here is not the wife of the Maharaja, but her sister, and instead of the king’s son, the throne goes to the son of his sister, that is, his nephew. In the 18th century, Maharaja Marthanda Varma of Travancore surrendered his entire kingdom at the feet of Sri Padmanabhaswamy Bhagwan and announced that he would take over the administration as a servant of the Lord.
Padmanabhaswamy Temple was in the news recently for its immense wealth kept in the basement. So far 6 cellars have been discovered here. In this, gold and assets worth about Rs 1 lakh crore have been found from the basements opened under the supervision of the Supreme Court. Due to this discovery, this temple has become the richest religious temple in the world. It is to be noted that cultural, historical, and antique values have not been added to the wealth estimated by the authorities.If its value is estimated by adding everything, then it will be many times more than 1 lakh crore.
The Royal Family of Travancore is against opening a basement there. According to him, opening this basement can lead to a divine calamity.
It is believed that there is an artwork of 2 snakes on the door of vault B basement. It appears as these snakes are guarding this basement.
After all, the Supreme Court has refused to open this basement for the time being and a committee has been formed for the maintenance of the temple.