India has a long tradition of donating riches to their deities, a practise continued through ages. History is replete with instances where invaders came looking for the treasures stashed inside temples. The temples in India are abundantly rich with possessions that it is still not possible to record and value all of their assets. Take a look at some of the wealthiest temples in India.
1. Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple, Kerala
Padmanabha Swamy Temple caught the attention of the world when the secret of its underground cellars stashed with copious treasures was made known to public in 2011. To this day, all the cellars of the temple have not been opened and the treasures completely valued. It is not only the richest religious institution in India but the richest, in the world. At least 25 billion rupees worth of gold and silver was found inside the vaults of the temple, including gold chains, a 3.5-foot-tall golden idol of Lord Vishnu studded with precious stones. Hordes of gold artefacts and antiques were stockpiled in the vaults of the temple.
2. Shri Sai Baba Temple, Maharashtra
Located in Maharashtra the divine and venerable seat of Shri Sai Baba, the temple is famous tourist place in Shirdi is reported to be one of the richest temples in India, in terms of its material wealth as well as in the number of devotees that visit the temple each day. According to the Statistical Records of 2012, The Indian Express attested the wealth of the temple to 4,27,17,02,929 Crores. The temple wealth is managed by Shri Saibaba Sansthan Trust. The riches of the temple include gold and silver ornaments, coins and pendants worth Rupees 32, 23, 59,372. Apart from this, the temple has riches in forms of investments, rents, donations, savings bonds and non-redeemable bonds. The statue of Sai Baba is itself worth Rupees 10 lakhs.
3. The Golden Temple, Amritsar
Known as the Harmandir Sahib, the most respected temple in Sikh religion, Golden Temple was founded by Guru Ram Das, and the temple is completely adorned in pure gold coating. Decked with gold and precious stones, the ceiling of Harmandir Sahib reflects the grandeur of the temple. In addition, the temple receives an annual income approximated at 100 million Indian rupees.
2. Somnath Temple, Gujarat
Managed by the Shree Somnath Trust the temple is located on the western coast of Gujarat. The temple was destroyed and reconstructed several times and the temple wealth was a tempting call for Ghaznavid invasions. It’s a wonder that despite being plundered several times and razed to the ground the temple and its assets withstood all challenges and to this day stands proud to be one of the richest temples in India. The temple also owns land which is at least estimated at 60,000 crores.
5. Jagannath Temple, Puri
The Jagannath Temple in Puri is yet another controversial religious institution which also had hidden treasures stashed away amounting to approximately 5 billion crores of valuables, including gold idols, necklaces, garlands, coins and crowns along with prized diamonds and other precious stones. The temple also raises revenue from lands and through the annual leasing out of Baje Mahals.
The temple also gets its income from the stalls and pujas carried out by temple authorities. In spite of being looted the temple still amasses huge wealth in its inner sanctums and even more through its rituals and revenues from land.
6. Kashi Vishwanatha Temple, Uttar Pradesh
A religious haven, attracts tourists to Varanasi and pilgrims from all over the world irrespective of caste and creed. History attests to the destruction of the temple through centuries with invaders looting the wealth of the temple. Like a proud few in India, Kaashi Vishwanatha Temple still proves that it can withstand changes. The annual number of visitors to the temple is counted in millions and the amount which reaches the temple Trust each year reaches a staggering amount at least around 4 to 5 crores. Apart from this the temple lands give a lump sum to the temple. The two domes of the temple are also made of pure gold.
7. Shri Siddhivinayak Temple, Mumbai
The temple is believed to have hoarded away treasures worth Rupees 5 billion and also seeks revenue from lands under the temple. Portions of the temple are gold-plated and the Ganesh idol is carved out of a single Blackstone and adorned with gold ornaments bejewelled with precious stones. One should must visit this temple on his visit to Mumbai. The annual income of the temple itself shoots to an estimate of 120 crores from donations alone.
8. Thirupathi Temple, Andhra Pradesh
The temple is believed to the abode of Lord Vishnu in South India. A major source of the temple wealth is from the daily donations and offerings from devotees. It is estimated that at least 2.35 crores reach the temple trustees in a single day with approximately 10,000 crores safely tucked away in the form of bank deposits.
9. Meenakshi Amman Temple, Tamil Nadu
Most illustrious temple in South India, the Madurai Meenakshi Temple earns at least 70 million per annum. With 14 Gopurams reaching to 50 metres, the temple has a rich sculptural legacy with shrines adorned with Dravidian sculptural antiquities. The famed dual Vimanas made of pure gold add to the architectural beauty of the temple. It also adds hugely to the wealth of the temple.
9. Guruvayoor Temple, Kerala
This temple is one of the major tourist attractions of Kerala. Guruvayurappan Temple reaps 50 crores per annum, and is managed by the temple Trustees. However much of the gold of the temple wealth is deposited in the State Bank. The temple also receives revenue from temple lands and through the offerings given to the deity. The ritual offerings itself attest to Rupees 25 lakhs and the temple is estimated to have at least 2,500 crores.
The wealth of the temples in India has always been a matter of controversy, and of huge wonder. Many of these temples have been razed to the ground by invaders because of their huge treasures stashed away in cellars and yet still managed to withhold the waves of time.
An ardent pursuer of adventure, a traveller by soul with a passion for guiding fellow adventures, Rohit is your perfect mate to plan your trips in Incredible India. Explore his travel stories on TransIndiaTravels.com.