- Sree PadmanabhaSwamy Temple, dedicated to Lord Vishnu, is located inside the East Fort in Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala.
- This temple is a blend of the Kerala and Dravidian styles of architecture.
- It is believed to be the world’s richest temple.
- The history of Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple dates back to the 8th century.
- The presiding deity of this temple is Lord Vishnu, reclining on Anantha, the hooded Serpent.
- It is one of the 108 sacred Vishnu temples or Divya Desams in India.
- Divya Desams are the holiest abodes of Lord Vishnu that are mentioned in the works of the Tamil Azhwars.
- The temple interiors are adorned by beautiful paintings and murals.
- Marthanda Varma, noted among Travancore kings, did a major renovation to the temple in the 18th century and it resulted in the present day structure of the temple.
- There are a total of six vaults located below the temple.
- Since 2011, the process of opening the temple vaults has led to the discovery of treasures of gold artefacts and diamonds.
- While five vaults were opened of the six, vault B was not opened.
- The royal family had claimed that a mythical curse is associated with the opening of vault B or ‘Kallara’.
Why in News?
- The Supreme Court upheld the right of the Travancore royal family to manage the property of deity at Sree Padmanabha Swamy Temple in Thiruvananthapuram.
- The court said that, as per customary law, the shebait rights (right to manage the financial affairs of the deity) survive with the members of the family even after the death of the last ruler.
- The judgement reversed the 2011 Kerala High Court’s ruling.
Is the temple the property of the royal family?
- No. The character of the temple was always recognised as a public institution governed by a statute.
- The argument of the royal family is that the temple management would vest with them for perpetuity, as per custom.
Secularism and social justice
- Despite being a secular country that separates religion from the affairs of the state, Hindu temples, its assets are governed through statutory laws and boards heavily controlled by state governments.
- This system came into being mainly through the development of a legal framework to outlaw untouchability by treating temples as public land; it has resulted in many legal battles.