India has a vast amount of Hindu temples scattered across the land. Valuables have accumulated in these temples for several thousands of years donated to the deities by the rich as well as common folks in hopes of reaching nirvana. For most of these temples there’s no clear idea as to how much total wealth they contain. Here we bring you 10 estimated wealthiest temples in India
1. Padmanabhaswamy Temple, Kerala
Temple assets: Rs 1 lakh crore (source)
Located in Thiruvananthapuram, the temple is credited with the title ‘The richest Hindi Temple in the world’. After the Supreme Court of India took over the management of the temple in 2011, the secret chambers were ordered open. The amount of wealth found inside astounded the entire world. From sacks full of gold, diamond, sapphires, rubies, emeralds and other precious stones to idols made of pure gold; from gold chains to gold sheaf, golden veil, golden coins (lakhs of them from the Roman Empire), crowns, necklaces and objects made out of other precious metals and stones were found inside those dark vaults. Moreover if taken into account the antique and cultural significance of the object, the asset will be ten times the current market price.
2. Tirumala Tirupati Venkateswara Temple, Andhra Pradesh
Built in the hill town of Tirumala, Tirumala Tirupati Venkateswara is the one of the most sacred and most visited (ranging between 50,000 to 100,000 pilgrims daily) place of worship in the world. Each year the temple treasury brings in over $6 million by selling the shaved hairs of devotees at public auction. International buyers use these hairs for hair extensions and other cosmetic products. A certain Venkateswara deity is clad with gold weighing 1000kgs. The temple makes 150,000 laddus each day that garners over 11 million rupees revenue annually. Reports are that actor Amitabh Bacchan had donated around Rs 51 lakh to the temple.
3. Sai baba Temple, Shirdi
Temple asset: Temple jewellery worth Rs 32 crore; gold coins worth over Rs 6 lakh; annual donations worth Rs 350 crore (source)
One of the top pilgrim destinations in India, the Sai Baba Temple lies approximately 296 Kilometres away from Mumbai. Each day around 20,000 devotees of different caste and religions flock to this worship house. It isn’t clear, which religion Sai Baba followed but his teachings combined elements of Islam and Hinduism urging his devotes to love, to learn charity, forgiveness, contentment etc.
4. Siddhivinayak, Mumbai
Credited as Mumbai city’s richest temple, Siddhivinayak witnesses around 25,000 to 2 lakh worshipers visiting the place each day. A businessman from Kolkata had donated the gold coated dome over Lord Ganesha which weighs over 3.7 kilos. In 2004, the Temple Trust was accused of mismanaging donations. The committee set out to probe into the allegations discovered that there were no set guidelines on how to choose a trustee. The only criteria was that members of the Trust need to be some politically influential person, raising question on the credibility and faithfulness of the Siddhivinayak Ganpati Temple Trust.
5. Meenakshi Amman Temple, Tamil Nadu
Temple assets: annual revenue of 60 million INR (source)
Located in the temple city of Madurai, the temple is symbolically significant to the Tamil People. The city itself is 2,500 year old and the temple attracts 15,000 visitors each day. The temple houses two golden sculptured vimanas and an estimated 33,000 sculptures. Meenakshi Amman Temple was among the 30 nominees for the ‘New Seven Wonders of the World’.
6. Jagannath Temple, Puri
Temple assets: In 1978, reports were that 454 gold articles weighing 12,830 tolas and 293 silver articles weighing 22,149 tolas had been discovered in the temple chest. Still the exact valuation of the temple’s assets remains an enigma (source)
Located in the coastal town of Puri, Orissa, the temple has been robbed eighteen times in the past. Maharaja Ranjit Singh had donated enormous amount of gold to the temple and the world’s largest, most precious diamond Koh-i-noor. But the diamond never reached to Jagannath because the British Indian government had, by that time, annexed Punjab along with all its royal possessions. In the last decade Jagannath has received more than 10 kg gold from devotees.
7. Vaishno Devi, Jammu and Kashmir
Temple assets: Annual donation of Rs 500 crore (source)
Vaishno Devi is often associated with the word ‘mother’ and has 10 million pilgrims visiting its shrine each year. The place has got a rich history with millions of devotees making rich donations and offerings that have made this magnificent shrine, one of India’s wealthiest.
8. The Golden Temple, Punjab
Temple assets: unknown
Officially known as the Harmandir Sahib located in Amritsar, the temple gets visit from over 100,000 people every day. The charismatic Golden temple shows influences of Hindu and Muslim architecture. The gold-coated building of Sri Harmandir Sahib becomes a uniquely charming place at night when the whole place is lit up. The ‘Adi Granth’ (Guru Granth Sahib) has a silver canopy, adorned with several precious stones. It’s supported by silver poles. Despite the fact that the total temple assets remains unknown experts claim that the Golden Temple is one of the wealthiest temple in Indian.
9. Somnath Temple, Gujarat
Temple asset: unknown
Dedicates to Lord Shiva, the Somnath Temple’s assets remain a mystery. None-the-less it’s hailed as one of the richest and has got a long spanning history. The name ‘Somnath’ translates into ‘The Protector of the Moon God’ that comes from the belief that the sacred temple was built with gold by the Moon God in honour of Lord Shiva. Presently built on the Chalukya style of architecture, the temple has been destroyed and reconstructed several times by both Islamic and Hindu emperors. Most recently it has been restored by Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel in 1951. In 2012, two businessmen from Surat and Mumbai has donated 36 kg gold worth around 11 crore.
10. Kashi Vishwanath temple, Uttar Pradesh
Temple assets: Unknown
One of the oldest abode of Lord Shiva, Kashi Vishwanath is located in Varanasi, the holiest existing place for Hindus in the world. With a documented history of over 3500 years, Varanasi is also the ‘The Oldest Living City in the World’. And as it happens with ancient places Kashi was destroyed and rebuilt a number of times in history. The temple’s noteworthy spires and domes are made of pure gold, therefore sometimes called ‘The Golden Temple’. Though the temple assets has not been made public, in the year 2005, a former priest had accused the temple management of hiding 99 kg in gold and other temple properties.