Sunday, July 10, 2011

A Treasure

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Over the past few weeks, we have been having a refresher course on why M/s Ghauri, Ghori & Co., and other assorted medieval marauders, found the temple-raiding business in India, so very lucrative.

At the temple that gives the city of Thiruvananthapuram its name, a court-enforced inspection of a few underground vaults has revealed a booty that would have made the conquistadors drool. The value of this "treasure" uncovered and tabulated so far, is being put at US$ 27 billion!

The newspapers have been busy putting this amount in perspective, even while they wait for the main vault to be opened. $27 billion or Rs. 100,000 Crores is -   half of Kerala's GDP, the whole of India's national education budget; it is  more than the state budget of Delhi, Jharkhand and Uttarakhand; 50% more than the proposed Posco investment in Orissa and  almost same as Wipro's market capitalization.

In a state that is famous for its appalling financial mismanagement, it will be interesting to see how this discovery pans out. Will there be a new public museum? ( I hope so!)  Will all the stuff remain hidden under the temple?

I just hope not too many Keralites would be knocking the back doors of Christie's, with brown bag or two in hand.

  • Chakravarthy, Pradeep (2011): LET THE TEMPLES KEEP THEIR SECRETS, The Hindu, 17 Jul 2011
  • Padmanabhan, Chitra (2011): ACROSS THE SILENCE OF THE CENTURIES, The Hindu Sunday Magazine, 17 Jul 2011
  • Sarasa, Beena (2011): TALES THAT THE FABULOUS COLLECTION IN THE VAULTS TELL, The Hindu, 17 Jul 2011
    - Marthanda Verma: ascended throne in 1729; renovated the temple which had been damaged in the fire of 1686; 1741 - Captured Dutch commandant Eustachius D'Lannoy (later became C-in-C of T army);  in the Battle of Colachel by 1749, his territory extended from Kanyakumari to Kochi-border; On 5th Mararam ME 925 (1750), he became a vassal to Padmanabha
    - Earliest recorded donation by Parantaka Pandya after he vanquished the king of Kupakas (Venad) - 10 gold lamps and the revenue from Tayanallur for its upkeep
  • Staff Reporter (2011): TELPE ASSETS BEST PRESERVED IN MUSEUM, The Hindu Sunday, 10 JUl 2011
    - Royal acquisitions by way of donations, fines and war booty
    - Temple dates back to 9c as one of the 13 Vaishnava shirines sung by the Alvars - expanded during the reign of Marthanda Verma (1729-58)
    - The Union Govt is the sole authority over any potential treasure of national heritage value - Indian Treasure-Trove Act 1878, Ancient Monuments Prservation Act 1904, 1958, Antiques & Art Treasures Act 1972, 1973
  • Subramanian, T.S (2011): THE PROVENANCE OF THE TEMPLE TREASURE, The Hindu, 7 July 2011
  • Padiyath, Sneha (2011): GOD'S OWN TREASURE - OF INDIANA JONES MOMENTS AND COBRA CURSES, The Hindu BusinessLine, 9 July 2011
  • Narayanan, MGS (2011): God's Own Kingdom, Indian Express, 9 July 2011, URL -

1 comment:

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