The Shri Padmanabhaswamy Temple is a Hindu temple of Lord Vishnu.
One of the richest temples in India.
It is in Thiruvananthapuram (formerly Trivandrum), the capital city of Kerala, India.
Shri Padmanabhaswamy Temple
It is one of the 108 Divya Desams.
Usually, abodes Lord Vishnu in the works of the Tamil Azhvars, the saint-poets of the Vaishnavite tradition.
So, The temple is not only for its religious significance but also for its immense wealth.
The temple’s underground vaults, known as Kallaras, have been the subject of international attention due to the vast treasures they are believed to contain.
These treasures also include gold ornaments, precious stones, antique jewelry, coins, and other valuable artifacts.
The discovery of the temple’s wealth became widely known in 2011 when five of its six vaults were opened for inspection by the Supreme Court of India following a petition.
The vaults were to contain an enormous amount of wealth, including gold idols, diamond-studded crowns, and a golden throne, among other priceless items.
So, The exact value of the treasures is difficult to ascertain, but estimates place it in the billions of dollars.
The management and preservation of the temple’s assets are now under the supervision of a Supreme Court-appointed committee.
However, The temple continues to be a popular pilgrimage site and a significant cultural landmark in Kerala.
Legend about Padmanabhaswamy Temple
The Shri Padmanabhaswamy Temple has a rich legend associated with its origin.
According to the legend, the idol of Lord Vishnu enshrined in the temple is believed to have been self-manifested or “swayambhu.”
The legend narrates that a saint named Divakara Muni once performed intense penance on the banks of a sacred tank called “Anantha Saras” in Thiruvananthapuram.
So, Pleased with his devotion, Lord Vishnu appeared before the saint in the form of a child.
The child also grew in size rapidly and transformed into a giant figure, stretching from one end of the sky to the other.
The saint was awestruck by this divine vision and requested the Lord to stay in that form so that he could continue to worship him. Lord Vishnu granted the saint’s wish and manifested himself as the idol of Padmanabhaswamy, reclining on the divine serpent Ananta (Shesha).
The temple derives its name from the combination of three words: “Padma” meaning lotus, “Nabha” meaning navel, and “Swamy” meaning Lord.
It also refers to Lord Vishnu’s posture of reclining on the serpent with a lotus emerging from his navel.
This legend emphasizes the belief that Lord Vishnu, in his eternal form as Padmanabhaswamy, is the preserver and sustainer of the universe.
The temple holds immense spiritual significance for devotees and is considered one of the holiest pilgrimage sites in South India.
History of Shri Padmanabhaswamy Temple
The history of the Padmanabhaswamy Temple in Trivandrum, Kerala, dates back several centuries. The temple has a rich and intriguing history, intertwined with the royal family of Travancore, who were ardent patrons of the temple.
The origins of the temple can be traced back to the 8th century. According to historical records, the temple was first mentioned in the Sangam literature of the Tamils, which dates back to the 6th century CE. The temple’s existence and significance were further enhanced during the reign of the Chera dynasty.
During the 14th century, the temple came under the rule of the kings of Travancore. The Travancore royal family played a crucial role in the development and preservation of the temple over the centuries. The temple was patronized by successive rulers, who made significant contributions to its expansion and maintenance.
One of the most notable rulers associated with the temple is King Marthanda Varma, who ascended the throne in 1729. He is credited with the construction of the current structure of the temple. Under his patronage, the temple was renovated and expanded, and he also introduced elaborate rituals and festivities to enhance the temple’s religious and cultural significance.
In the 18th and 19th centuries, the Travancore royal family continued to bestow significant wealth and offerings upon the temple. The rulers donated vast amounts of land, gold, jewels, and other valuable assets, which contributed to the temple’s immense wealth.
The architecture of Shri Padmanabhaswamy Temple
The architecture of the Padmanabhaswamy Temple is a splendid example of the traditional South Indian style, particularly the Dravidian architectural style. The temple showcases intricate craftsmanship, exquisite detailing, and a harmonious blend of various architectural elements.
The primary deity of the temple, Lord Padmanabhaswamy (an incarnation of Lord Vishnu), is also in a reclining posture on the serpent Ananta. The temple’s architecture revolves around this central deity and the sacred rituals associated with it.
Here are some key architectural features of the Padmanabhaswamy Temple:
The temple entrance is with towering gopurams (gateway towers) that feature intricate carvings of gods, goddesses, celestial beings, and mythological scenes. These gopurams are also with sculptures and have multiple levels, each with its own ornate decoration.
The temple complex comprises several mandapams (halls) that serve various purposes. The most significant one is the Ottakkal Mandapam, right in front of the sanctum sanctorum. It is also a magnificent pillar hall with intricate carvings.
The sanctum sanctorum houses the main deity and is full of a towering vimana (tower). The vimana is also with elaborate sculptures and represents the celestial abode of the deity.
The outer walls of the temple are embellished with elaborate sculptures and carvings depicting various deities, mythological scenes, and religious motifs. These intricate carvings showcase the mastery of the artisans of that time.
This mandapam, also known as the Navaranga Mandapam, is an important part of the temple complex. It is known for its architectural beauty and features 36 beautifully carved granite pillars.
This hall consists of eight parts, hence the name “Ashtanga.” It is a spacious hall supported by a series of granite pillars and serves as a venue for various religious rituals and gatherings.
The architecture of the Padmanabhaswamy Temple exemplifies the grandeur and intricacy of South Indian temple architecture. It reflects the devotion, cultural heritage, and craftsmanship of the artisans of that era. The temple stands as a testament to the architectural marvels of ancient India and continues to attract visitors with its captivating design and spiritual ambiance.
Shri Padmanabhaswamy Temple Treasure
The Shri Padmanabhaswamy Temple treasure refers to the vast wealth discovered within the vaults of the temple in 2011. The temple’s underground vaults, known as Kallaras, were found to contain an astonishing collection of gold, silver, precious gemstones, jewelry, coins, and other valuable artifacts.
Here are some key details about the Padmanabhaswamy Temple treasure:
The exact value of the treasure is difficult to ascertain as it holds historical and cultural significance. However, initial estimates suggest that the treasure could be worth several billion dollars.
In 2011, following a petition to the Supreme Court of India, five out of the temple’s six vaults were opened for inspection. These vaults had remained sealed for over a century.
Contents of the Vaults
The vaults contained an incredible collection of items, including gold idols, antique jewelry, precious stones, ceremonial attire, golden crowns, coins dating back centuries, and other priceless artifacts. Some of the items were believed to be centuries-old and of immense historical and artistic value.
Untouched for Centuries
The treasure had been amassed over many centuries through the donations, offerings, and patronage of kings, nobles, and devotees. The contents of the vaults had remained untouched and unaccounted for generations.
Preservation and Inventory
Following the discovery of the treasure, the Supreme Court of India appointed a committee to manage and safeguard the assets. The committee has been responsible for cataloging, documenting, and preserving the items found in the vaults.
The inventory and valuation of the treasure are still ongoing, and further vaults within the temple remain unopened. The process requires expert examination and assessment to determine the historical, cultural, and monetary value of the items.
It is important to note that the Padmanabhaswamy Temple treasure holds immense religious, cultural, and historical significance. The wealth is considered part of the temple’s sacred offerings and has contributed to its status as one of the richest and most revered temples in India.
Shri Padmanabhaswamy Temple Vaults
The Padmanabhaswamy Temple in Trivandrum is known for its multiple underground vaults, referred to as Kallaras, which are believed to hold significant treasures. These vaults gained international attention in 2011 when several of them were opened for inspection. Here is some information about the Padmanabhaswamy Temple vaults:
Vault B is the most prominent and historically significant vault. It remained sealed for over 150 years until it was opened in 2011. This vault contained an astonishing collection of treasures, including gold ornaments, jewelry, gemstones, idols, and ceremonial objects. The value of the items found in Vault B is estimated to be in billions of dollars.
Vault A is another significant vault within the temple complex. It remains unopened to this day, and its contents are unknown. Speculation suggests that it could potentially contain even more valuable treasures compared to Vault B.
Vaults C to F
Vaults C to F were also opened for inspection in 2011. Although the exact details of the contents of these vaults have not been widely publicized, they are believed to have held various valuable items, including jewelry, coins, and other artifacts.
Vault G is the only vault that has remained unopened and unexplored. There is limited information available about its contents and historical significance.
It is important to note that the temple administration and the Supreme Court-appointed committee oversee the management and preservation of the vaults’ treasures. The inventory, documentation, and valuation of the items found in the vaults are ongoing processes to ensure their proper preservation and historical understanding.
The Padmanabhaswamy Temple vaults have contributed to the temple’s reputation as one of the richest religious institutions in the world. The treasures found within these vaults hold not only immense monetary value but also significant cultural and historical importance.
Mystery of Shri Padmanabhaswamy Temple Vault B
The mystery surrounding Padmanabhaswamy Temple’s Vault B stems from the secrecy and intrigue associated with its contents and historical significance. Here are some key aspects that contribute to the mystique surrounding Vault B:
Sealed for Centuries
Vault B had remained sealed for over 150 years, adding an air of mystery and curiosity about its contents. The vault’s long period of inaccessibility piqued the interest of people around the world, leading to speculations about the treasures hidden inside.
Rumors of Curse
According to local legends and beliefs, Vault B is said to be protected by a curse. It is believed that anyone who tries to open the vault without the appropriate spiritual preparations would face disastrous consequences. This notion further adds to the mystery and caution surrounding the vault.
The estimated value of the treasures discovered in other vaults of the temple, particularly Vault B, is staggering. The sheer magnitude of the wealth, including gold idols, jewelry, gemstones, and artifacts, has fueled the fascination and curiosity regarding what else might be stored in Vault B.
The contents of Vault B are believed to hold immense historical and cultural significance. The treasures within the vault may provide valuable insights into the temple’s past, the patronage it received from various rulers, and the artistic and cultural heritage of the region.
Preservation and Secrecy
The decision to keep Vault B sealed and restrict public access to its contents is primarily driven by the need for preservation and security. Given the immense value and historical significance of the treasures, it is essential to ensure their protection and avoid potential theft or damage.
While some vaults have been opened and inspected, Vault B remains unopened. There is ongoing speculation and anticipation about the potential discoveries that might be made when the vault is eventually explored.
It is important to note that the secrecy and limited information about Vault B contribute to the allure and enigma surrounding it. The temple administration, along with the Supreme Court-appointed committee, takes the responsibility of managing and preserving the temple’s treasures, including Vault B, to ensure their long-term safeguarding and cultural significance.
Shrines inside Shri Padmanabhaswamy Temple
The Padmanabhaswamy Temple houses several shrines dedicated to various deities, each with its own unique significance and rituals. Here are some of the prominent shrines within the temple complex:
Sri Padmanabhaswamy Shrine
This is the main shrine of the temple and is dedicated to Lord Padmanabhaswamy, an incarnation of Lord Vishnu. The deity is depicted in a reclining posture on the serpent Ananta, with Lord Brahma emerging from a lotus that arises from the Lord’s navel.
Sree Krishna Shrine
Located within the temple complex, this shrine is dedicated to Lord Krishna, another incarnation of Lord Vishnu. It is believed that this shrine was installed by Vilwamangalam Swamiyar, a revered saint-poet.
Yoga Narasimha Shrine
This shrine is dedicated to Lord Narasimha, the half-man, half-lion avatar of Lord Vishnu. Lord Narasimha is worshipped here in a yogic posture.
Sree Vyasa Shrine
This shrine is dedicated to Sage Vyasa, who is revered as the author of the Mahabharata epic and is considered one of the Chiranjeevi (immortal beings) in Hindu mythology. The shrine holds great significance for devotees who seek blessings for knowledge and wisdom.
This shrine is of Lord Ganesha, the elephant-headed deity who is revered as the remover of obstacles and the harbinger of good fortune. Devotees offer prayers to Lord Ganesha before commencing any auspicious task.
Shri Hanuman Shrine
This shrine is of Lord Hanuman, a prominent deity known for his unwavering devotion to Lord Rama. Lord Hanuman is worshipped for his strength, courage, and protection.
Apart from these shrines, the temple complex also features other smaller shrines dedicated to various deities from Hindu mythology. Each shrine has its own rituals, festivals, and devotees who offer prayers and seek blessings from the respective deities.
It is also worth mentioning that the main focus of worship and veneration in the Padmanabhaswamy Temple is Lord Padmanabhaswamy, and the temple is considered one of the most important pilgrimage sites for Vaishnavites in India.
Other attractions within the Shri Padmanabhaswamy Temple complex
Apart from the main shrine and the various dedicated shrines, the Padmanabhaswamy Temple complex offers other attractions and notable features that enhance the overall experience for visitors. Here are some of the attractions within the temple complex:
So, in front of the main shrine, the Ottakkal Mandapam is a magnificent pillared hall known for its exquisite architectural beauty. The hall features intricate carvings and sculptures, providing a visual feast for visitors.
The temple complex is also famous for its musical pillars, also known as Sopanam. These pillars, when struck, produce musical notes of varying pitch and tone. It is said that these pillars were created to enhance the devotional ambiance during temple rituals.
The walls and ceilings of the temple complex are also beautiful mural paintings depicting various mythological scenes, stories from Hindu epics, and divine beings. These ancient murals showcase the artistic finesse and storytelling tradition of the region.
This mandapam is of the nine celestial bodies or Navagrahas in Hindu astrology. Each celestial body is by a separate idol, and devotees offer prayers to seek their blessings and mitigate astrological influences.
Basically, within the temple complex, the Thebajana Madam is a venue where devotional music and bhajans (religious songs) are performed. It provides a platform for musicians and devotees to express their devotion through music and singing.
The temple complex features a sacred tank called Padma Theertham or Padmatheertha Kulam. Devotees take ritual baths in the tank, which is to have purifying properties. The tank also adds to the overall aesthetic charm of the temple complex.
These attractions within the Padmanabhaswamy Temple complex enhance the spiritual and cultural experience for visitors. They offer glimpses into the architectural brilliance, artistic heritage, and devotional traditions associated with the temple.
Shri Padmanabhaswamy Temple Timings and Dress Code
The timings and dress code for the Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple may vary, and it is always recommended to check the latest information before visiting. However, here are the general timings and dress code guidelines:
- Morning: The temple usually opens for darshan (viewing of the deity) in the early morning hours, typically around 3:30 AM or 4:30 AM.
- Afternoon: The temple remains closed for a few hours during the afternoon. The exact duration of the mid-day closing may vary.
- Evening: The temple reopens in the evening for darshan, usually around 5:00 PM or 6:00 PM.
- Closing: The temple closes for the day after the evening rituals and darshan, typically around 8:00 PM or 9:00 PM.
It is important to note that these timings can be subject to change during special festivals, rituals, or other circumstances. It is advisable to check with the temple authorities or their official website for the most up-to-date timings.
- Traditional attire is when visiting the Padmanabhaswamy Temple. Men are generally to wear mundu (a traditional wraparound garment) or dhoti along with an upper garment like a shirt or kurta. Wearing a Mundu without a shirt is also acceptable.
- Women are to wear a saree, set-mundu (two-piece saree), or salwar kameez with a dupatta. Wearing modern Western attire such as shorts, skirts, or sleeveless tops is not allowed for women.
- Children are usually not subjected to strict dress code rules but are expected to be dressed modestly.
It is important to respect the dress code guidelines as they are part of the temple’s cultural and religious traditions. Additionally, modesty and decorum are appreciated within the temple premises.
Please note that these are general guidelines, and it is advisable to check with the temple authorities or their official sources for any specific dress code requirements or updates before your visit.
Shri Padmanabhaswamy Temple Entry Fee and Pooja Charges
The Padmanabhaswamy Temple in Trivandrum does not charge an entry fee for devotees to visit the temple premises. Entry to the main temple is generally free of charge.
However, there are certain pooja (ritual) services and offerings for which charges may apply. The charges for specific poojas or rituals can vary depending on the type and complexity of the ceremony. These charges typically cover the materials used for the pooja and the services provided by the temple priests.
It is advisable to contact the temple authorities or check their official website for detailed information regarding the specific poojas available and their associated charges. The temple administration can provide accurate and up-to-date information on the current charges for various services.
It is worth noting that donations and offerings made by devotees are common in temples across India, including the Padmanabhaswamy Temple. Devotees often contribute voluntarily to the temple’s maintenance, and welfare activities, and support various religious and social initiatives undertaken by the temple administration.
Shri Padmanabhaswamy Temple Festivals
The Padmanabhaswamy Temple celebrates several festivals throughout the year, which attract a large number of devotees. These festivals are elaborate rituals, processions, cultural performances, and a festive atmosphere. Here are some of the major festivals at the Padmanabhaswamy Temple:
This festival is also known as Alpashy Utsavam.
It is during the Malayalam month of Alpashy (October-November).
The festival spans is also ten days and features various rituals and cultural performances.
The highlight of the festival is the procession of the deity on the last three days.
Panguni Utsavam is a significant festival in the Tamil month of Panguni (March-April).
However, It lasts for ten days and is marked by grand processions, religious discourses, and cultural programs.
The festival also concludes with the “Pallivetta” ritual, where the deity is taken out in a procession to the Shri Padmatheertha Kulam tank.
The nine-day festival of Navaratri is also with devotion and fervor at the Padmanabhaswamy Temple.
The temple is with lights and decorations, and special rituals and music performances are also during this period.
So, The tenth day, known as Vijayadashami, is of particular significance.
The birth anniversary of Lord Ganesha or Vinayaka Chaturthi or Ganesh Chaturthi is also here with enthusiasm at the temple. Devotees offer special prayers, perform rituals, and participate in the festivities associated with Lord Ganesha.
The festival of Janmashtami, which marks the birth of Lord Krishna, is also here with great devotion at the Padmanabhaswamy Temple. Devotees engage in fasting, singing bhajans, and participating in various Krishna-related activities.
These are just a few examples of the festivals at the Padmanabhaswamy Temple. The temple follows a rich calendar of religious and cultural events throughout the year, each with its own unique significance and traditions. The festive atmosphere during these celebrations adds to the spiritual experience and attracts devotees from near and far.
Best Time to visit Shri Padmanabhaswamy Temple
The best time to visit the Padmanabhaswamy Temple in Trivandrum can vary based on personal preferences and factors such as weather and festival seasons. Here are a few considerations to help you plan your visit:
Trivandrum experiences a tropical climate, with hot and humid conditions throughout the year. The months from October to February generally offer a more pleasant and cooler climate, making it a popular time for tourists to visit.
If you wish to experience the vibrant atmosphere and cultural festivities, you may consider visiting during major festivals such as Alpashy Festival (October-November) or Panguni Festival (March-April). These festivals showcase the temple’s traditions and can provide a unique and immersive experience.
Weekdays, particularly Monday to Friday, tend to be less crowded compared to weekends. If you prefer a quieter and more serene experience, visiting on weekdays might be a good option.
The early morning hours when the temple opens for darshan can be relatively less crowded. If you prefer a peaceful and less busy visit, arriving early can offer a more tranquil experience.
Avoiding Peak Tourist Season
Trivandrum experiences an influx of tourists during the peak tourist season, which is generally from December to February. If you prefer fewer crowds, it may be advisable to avoid this period.
It is always a good idea to check the temple’s official website or contact the temple authorities for the most up-to-date information on timings, special events, and any restrictions that may be in place.
Lastly, while planning your visit, it’s important to respect the temple’s customs and dress code guidelines and to be mindful of the religious sentiments of fellow devotees.
Time required to explore Shri Padmanabhaswamy Temple
The time required to explore the Padmanabhaswamy Temple can vary depending on several factors, including personal preferences, the crowd, and the level of detail you wish to delve into. Here are some general considerations to keep in mind:
The duration of your visit will largely depend on the time you spend in the main shrine for darshan (viewing of the deity). The waiting time for darshan can vary depending on the crowd, time of day, and special occasions. It is advisable to check the temple’s official website or consult with the temple authorities for an estimate of the expected waiting time.
In addition to the main shrine, the temple complex houses various other shrines, halls, and attractions. If you wish to explore the entire complex and appreciate the architectural beauty, mural paintings, and other features, you may need additional time. Consider allocating time to visit the Ottakkal Mandapam, witness the musical pillars, and admire the temple’s artwork.
Rituals and Offerings
If you intend to participate in any specific rituals or make offerings, you should factor in the time required for these activities. Some devotees choose to perform special poojas or seek blessings from the temple priests, which may require additional time.
Crowds and Peak Hours
The crowd can vary throughout the day, with peak hours generally being in the morning and evening when devotees visit for darshan. If you prefer a less crowded experience, consider visiting during less busy hours, such as early morning or weekdays.
Considering these factors, a visit to the Padmanabhaswamy Temple, including darshan and a brief exploration of the temple complex, can typically take around 1 to 2 hours. However, if you wish to spend more time appreciating the temple’s architectural details, participating in rituals, or exploring the surroundings, you may want to allocate additional time accordingly.
It is advisable to plan your visit in advance, taking into account the expected crowd, the time you want to spend, and any specific activities or rituals you wish to engage in.
How to reach Shri Padmanabhaswamy Temple
To reach the Padmanabhaswamy Temple in Kerala, you can consider the following transportation options:
The nearest airport to the temple is the Trivandrum International Airport (IATA: TRV).
From the airport, you can hire a taxi or use public transportation to reach the temple, which is located in the heart of Trivandrum city.
Trivandrum Central Railway Station is the nearest major railway station.
From the railway station, you can take a taxi, auto-rickshaw, or avail of public transportation to reach the Padmanabhaswamy Temple, located around 2.5 kilometers away.
Trivandrum has a well-developed road network, and you can reach the Padmanabhaswamy Temple by hiring a taxi or using public transportation. The temple is in the East Fort area of Trivandrum city, which is easily accessible from different parts of the city.
Once you reach Trivandrum and are in the vicinity of the Padmanabhaswamy Temple, you can use auto-rickshaws, taxis, or local buses to reach the temple premises.
It is advisable to plan your travel in advance and consider factors such as traffic conditions, distance, and local transportation availability to ensure a smooth journey to the Padmanabhaswamy Temple. Additionally, you can seek assistance from locals or use navigation applications for real-time directions to the temple.
In a nutshell, Today, the Padmanabhaswamy Temple remains one of the most revered and visited temples in Kerala.
Its historical significance, architectural beauty, and treasure trove within its vaults continue to captivate devotees, historians, and tourists alike.