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India is the land of numerous Gods and Goddesses, with a multitude of temples and holy cities. Here, temples can be found at every step of the way, but only some of them are ancient, rare and unusual in one way or another. Some of these mysterious temples of India are famed because of their unique deities, some because of their exorcism rituals, and some because of their ancient significance. But one distinct temple in India is exceptionally notable for its unseen treasures and mysteries of its gloaming dungeons, and this temple is named as, “Shree Padmanabhaswamy Temple”, located in Thiruvananthapuram, the capital city of Kerala.

The name of the city of Thiruvananthapuram in Malayalam translates to "The City of Lord Ananta", quoting to the deity of the Padmanabhaswamy temple. Numerous people visit this temple every year as it is well connected by roads and railways. While visiting the temple, women are required to wear sarees, Mundum Neriyathum and men are similarly required to wear mundu or dhoti and bare their torso. Although, these restrictions have been recently relaxed a little to prevent inconveniences to the devotees.

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Image Credit: en.wikipedia.org

The temple is embroidered in gold-plated coating and it is devoted to Lord Padmanabha, one of the avatars of Lord Vishnu. The Padmanabhaswamy Temple is one of the primary centres of Vaishnava idolization in the belief of Vaishnavism. The entire construction of the temple has been executed with preciseness in stone and bronze with beautiful murals and paintings decorating its walls. Another charm is the Navagraha Mandapa, which is a ceiling displaying the nine planets. In the temple, Sri Padmanabha relaxes majestically on the serpent Anantha, which has five hoods fronting inwards shaping an umbrella over the deity's head, symbolizing meditation. This is known as the ‘Ananatha-Sayanam’ posture, the posture of eternal sleep, ‘Yogi-Nindra’, on the serpent. The temple is created as a specimen of the Adikesavaperumal Shrine in Thiruvattar, the Padmanabhaswamy temple is well-preserved structure. The precise ancestry of this temple is a puzzle, but several devotees assume it to have existed since the first day of the Kaliyuga, which was 5000 years ago. The Padmanabhaswamy temple also has an explanation in the Bhagwad Gita. It notes that Balarama, the older brother of Lord Krishna frequented the temple, rinsed in the Padmatheertham and similarly made several offerings to the deity here. But its ancient prestige is not the centre of attraction of this temple. The Padmanabhaswamy temple is well known for its hidden treasure stories and has been a fascination in India for many years, and one covered in mystery and fear of 6 dreadful chambers. To make matters worse, legend has it that anyone who opens the vault will be met with disastrous results.

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The mysterious chambers of the temple are titled for documentation purposes. There are A, B, C, D, E and F vaults in the temple, all these vaults except Vault B are unlocked at least 8 times yearly. The priests of the temple, well-known historians and archaeologists believe that the mysterious powers of this vault are too sacred and perhaps it is risky to disclose the vault B. It is supposed to have been locked by the ‘Siddha Purusha’ or the ever-ready male devotees of the 16th century using the terrible ‘Naga Bandham,’ which guards the chambers with enormous serpents. The door of Vault B which is guarded by these serpents can be unlocked only through a prudent master who knows sufficiently about the Naga Bandham. The priest (Muni) would have to chant the ‘Garuda Mantram’ to open the door. And any other experiment to open the door using machinery or technology is speculated to possess the potential to engulf the whole nation.

This mysterious vault B of the temple has resisted everyone at nook for many years, the myth of Vault B and its misfortunes are the reasons of its enigma. But all of this was recently contracted when the Auditor General Vinod Rai notified the Supreme Court that Vault B had been opened at least seven times to his knowledge since 1990 and nothing horrible happened. And then in 2011, the Supreme Court of India propelled a team under the confidence of the head trustee of the Travancore trust of Shri Anantha Padmanabhaswamy to open the six vaults that were enclosed inside the temple, and when these vaults were unlocked by the research team, everyone was astonished!

The rumours were untrue, and nothing happened after opening the vaults. In fact, the chambers were full of gold and diamonds. There were packs of valuable gems, hundreds of gold sculptures, several gold idols, piles of gold utensils, thousands of gold coins from various nations and a few costly historic weaponries. Many gold statues that were found were over 9 feet in height and studded with precious gems. Tremendous solitaire diamonds lay in the vault and were bigger than a human thumb. Gold and diamond necklaces were about 18 feet long, and heaps of solid gold coconut shells were discovered that weighed more than 66 pounds. The precious items found analyzed over 1 ton of pure gold and diamonds and were worth more than “1000 billion dollars!” All the rumours about snake guards and disasters were perhaps built by its actual possessors since the ancient times, to safeguard their heavy valuable property.
(Source - en.wikipedia.org)

No one knows if the speculations about naga bandham or the apocalypse after opening the vaults were true or not. But clearly, the ancient folks precisely preferred to protect their legacy from invaders. But as they say, nothing is protected in ‘kaliyuga’, which signifies the current world. And according to a report of India Times, 2016, an audit supervised into the assets of the famed Shree Padmanabhaswamy temple has revealed that a tremendous amount of gold from its chambers has mysteriously disappeared. Up to 769 gold pots and silver bars have been reported missing. Some questioners are also referring that there is an unseen tunnel beneath the chamber that allowed the architects to lock the chamber doors from within, making it impossible to breach. This secret tunnel could consistently have driven to many years of stealing the treasure in abundance without anyone noticing.

The temple of Lord Padmanabhaswamy is a living example of India's prosperous history and the enigma of its legends. These treasures are not just about the devotion, wealth and mysteries of the temple but they moreover conserve the ancient legacy of our culture and prosperity. And still, there is an increasing number of cases of thefts in the temples. And this leads us to a question that, does the devotion actually stop short at the treasures?