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(Civil Appellate Jurisdiction)
SLP (Civil) No.11295 of 2011
IN THE MATTER OF:
Sri Marthanda Varma & Anr. … Petitioners
T.P. Sundararajan & Ors. … Respondents
SLP (Civil) No. 17081-17082 of 2011
Rama Varma … Petitioner
T.P. Sundararajan & Ors. … Respondents
SLP (Civil) No. 12361 of 2011
Uthradam Thirunal Marthanda Varma & Anr. … Petitioners
Union of India & Ors. … Respondents
REPORT OF THE AMICUS CURIAE
Filed through: Ardhendumauli Kumar Prasad, Advocate-on-Record
Page 2 of 93
I. A brief background of the dispute .................................................................. 4
II. History and traditions of the Sree Padmanabha Swamy Temple ............ 42
III. Recommendations of the Amicus Curiae .................................................... 64
A. Submission of future interim reports .......................................................... 66
B. Strengthening of vaults ................................................................................. 66
C. Storage of inventory data .............................................................................. 67
D. Adverse reports by the Home Department of the Government of Kerala
E. Restraint on the media .................................................................................. 70
F. Suggested steps for effective Temple Administration .............................. 71
G. Implementation of security measures ......................................................... 72
H. Extension of time for inventorisation .......................................................... 74
I. Recommendations on Temple renovation and restoration ..................... 74
J. Compiling the Temple’s traditions .............................................................. 74
K. Audit of Temple accounts and sources of funding ................................... 75
L. Listing the Temple as a World Heritage Site ............................................. 77
M. Next steps on representations made to the Amicus Curiae .................... 78
N. Supplementary Recommendations ............................................................. 78
IV. Epilogue ........................................................................................................... 91
Page 3 of 93
IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
(Civil Appellate Jurisdiction)
SLP (Civil) No.11295 of 2011
IN THE MATTER OF:
Sri Marthanda Varma & Anr. … Petitioners
T.P. Sundararajan & Ors. … Respondents
SLP (Civil) No. 17081-17082 of 2011
Rama Varma … Petitioner
T.P. Sundararajan & Ors. … Respondents
SLP (Civil) No. 12361 of 2011
Uthradam Thirunal Marthanda Varma & Anr. … Petitioners
Union of India & Ors. … Respondents
REPORT OF THE AMICUS CURIAE
1. This Hon’ble Court appointed the Amicus Curiae on 23
Thereafter, the Amicus Curiae visited Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala,
September, 2012, to assess first-hand the
administration and general state of affairs at the Sree Padmanabha
Swamy Temple. This report is the result of the Amicus Curiae’s review of
the Temple premises (including the vaults, or ‘Kallaras’ as they are
Page 4 of 93
called in Malayalam, that house the treasures of the Temple); his
interaction with the State Government which was represented by the
Chief Minister and the Chief Secretary; and the Royal family of the
erstwhile State of Travancore, which was represented by His Highness
Sri Marthanda Varma, Princess Gouri Lakshmi Bayi and Sri Adithya
Varma; as well as members of the Temple staff, such as the priests and
the administrators; and equally importantly, members of the Overseeing
and Expert Committee
2. Of course, no review of a temple as unique and famous as the Sree
Padmanabha Swamy Temple can be undertaken or completed without
understanding and appreciating its history and heritage that stretches
back thousands of years. The Amicus Curiae has therefore spent a
number of hours studying with keen interest, the history and the rituals
of this great Temple, which have informed many of his
recommendations and suggestions in this report.
3. This report is divided into four parts: Part I provides an overview of the
dispute before this Hon’ble Court; Part II discusses the history and
heritage of the Sree Padmanabha Swamy Temple; Part III contains the
recommendations and suggestions of the Amicus Curiae; while Part IV is
I. A BRIEF BACKGROUND OF THE DISPUTE
1. The present Special Leave Petitions are directed against the judgment
and order of the Kerala High Court dated 31
January 2011 rendered in
Writ Petition (Civil) No. 36487 of 2009 (T.P. Sundararajan v. State of Kerala
& Ors.) and Writ Petition (Civil) No. 4256 of 2010 (Uthradam Thirunal
A list of the participants of the meeting held on 29
September 2012 at the office of the Expert
Committee is annexed with this report and marked as Annexure A.
Page 5 of 93
Marthanda Varma and Sree Padmanabha Swamy Temple Represented by the
Executive Officer v. Union of India). By a common judgment, the Division
Bench of the Kerala High Court essentially held that, upon the death of
the last Ruler of the erstwhile State of Travancore on 20
July 1991, the
Petitioner (His Highness Sri Marthanda Varma) did not step into the
shoes of the last Ruler and could not therefore claim management rights
over the Sree Padmanabha Swamy Temple under the provisions of the
Travancore Cochin Hindu Religious Institutions Act, 1950. Though the
High Court also held that the Executive Officer of the Temple was
appointed without any legal authority, the Court chose not to interfere
with that appointment.
2. Consequently, the High Court passed a series of directions in exercise of
its jurisdiction as ‘parens patriae’, and concluded that the Temple and its
properties and assets would revert back and vest in the State
Government under Article 295 and Article 296 of the Constitution of
India. Thus, in order to preserve the Sree Padmanabha Swamy Temple,
as well as its treasures, it was the duty of the State Government to make
arrangements in the same way as in the case of State-run temples that
were handed over to the (State) Devaswom Board.
3. The Kerala High Court even observed that:
“There is no purpose in keeping the treasures of the Temple acquired by
it in the course of several centuries as a mystery and if all the storage
rooms (kallaras) are opened and the treasures are exhibited in the
museum to be set up in the Temple compound, the glory of the Temple
and the State will get a boost and probably the great Temple will become
a major tourist attraction and income earner.”
4. The Kerala High Court therefore ordered that:-
“i) There shall be a direction to the State Government to immediately
take steps to constitute a body corporate trust or other legal
Page 6 of 93
authority to take over the control of the Sree Padmanabha Swamy
Temple, it’s assets and management to regulate the same in
accordance with all the traditions hitherto followed. This shall be
done within a period of three months from now.
ii) There will be an order of injunction against the Petitioners in
Writ Petition (C) No.4256/2010 who are Respondents 3 and 5 in
the other W.P. (C) against the opening of any of the Kallaras or
removing any of the articles from the Temple. However, they are
free to use such of the articles required for rituals, ceremonies and
regular poojas in the Temple until Temple is taken over by the
authority as stated above.
iii) There will be a direction to the authority constituted by the
Government to open all kallaras, make inventory of the entire
articles and create a museum and exhibit all the treasures of the
Temple for the public, devotees and the tourists to view the same
which could be arranged on payment basis in the Temple
premises itself. The first Petitioner in W.P. (C) No.4256/2010
and the successors from the Royal family should be permitted to
participate in the rituals of the Temple like the Arattu procession,
which is symbolic of the presence of the “Padmanabhadasa” in the
iv) Considering the valuables and treasures in the Temple, the
Government should consider handing over security of the Temple
to a team of Police or at least provide Police assistance to the
Temple security staff.
The Government should ensure that the opening of Kallaras
(storage places) and the preparation of inventory are done by a
team of responsible and honest officers either from the
Government or from the authority constituted to manage the
Temple in terms of the directions above so that there should not
be any allegation of pilferage or manipulation. Inventory should
be prepared in the presence of the petitioners in W.P. (C)
No.4256/2010 or their agents towards the proof of the items taken
over from their custody.”
5. The Petitioners, who are aggrieved by the aforesaid judgment, have
preferred the present Special Leave Petitions.
6. On 2
May 2011, the said Special Leave Petitions came up for hearing
before their Lordships, Hon’ble Mr. Justice R.V. Raveendran and
Hon’ble Mr. Justice A.K. Patnaik. On that date, this Hon’ble Court was
pleased to pass the following order:-
Mr. P.B. Suresh, learned counsel of M/s Temple Law Firm, accepts
notice for respondent No.1 (T.P. Sundararajan).
Page 7 of 93
Interim stay of direction (i) of the impugned judgment which directs
taking over of the assets and management of the Sree Padmanabha
Swamy Temple, Thiruvananthapuram.
Interim stay of directions (ii) to (iv) of the impugned judgment subject to
the following interim directions:-
(a) There shall be a detailed inventory of the articles/valuables/
ornaments in Kallaras described as (a) to (f) in the Second
Schedule to the Plaint in O.S. No.625/2007 on the file of the Sub-
Judge, Thiruvananthapuram. The inventory shall be held in the
presence of the following observers:-
(i) Two observers appointed by this Court namely, Justice
M.N. Krishnan and Justice C.S. Rajan, retired Judges of
the Kerala High Court.
(ii) The first petitioner and the second petitioner.
(iii) A senior officer of the State Government, namely the
Secretary, Devaswom Department or his nominated
(iv) A senior officer nominated by the Secretary, Department
of Archaeology, Ministry of Culture, Government of India
who is stationed at Kerala.
(v) The PIL petitioner (first respondent).
Justice M.N. Krishnan shall be in charge of organising the
inventory, fixing of schedules. The entire expenditure of
inventory shall be met by the Petitioners. He is also authorised to
seek police security at the time of such inventory. The observers
shall decide upon the procedure and documentation of the
inventory including videographing/ photographing the articles.
(b) In regard to the articles in kallaras (c) and (d) used for regular
rituals and the ornaments in kallaras (e) and (f) said to be in the
custody of Periya Nambi and Thekkedom Nambi, the existing
practices, procedures and rituals may be followed in regard to the
opening and closing of the Kallaras and using the articles therein.
As far as Kallaras (a) and (b), which is reportedly not opened for
more than a century, they shall be opened only for the purpose of
making inventory of the articles and then closed and sealed again.
(c) The inventory shall be filed in this Court and copies of the
inventory be given to all participating parties and observers.
(d) The existing temple security shall be further strengthened by
additional security from the local police.
(e) The first petitioner and his family shall be entitled to participate
in all temple festivals and rituals as hitherto before.
Let a copy of this order be sent to Justice M.N. Krishnan, Justice C.S.
Rajan, the Secretary, Devaswom Department, State of Kerala and the
Secretary, Department of Archaeology, Government of India for due
List in August, 2011 for further orders.”
Page 8 of 93
7. Then, on 8
July 2011, this Hon’ble Court directed that:-
“Opening of kallara ‘B’ is to be kept in abeyance till further orders.
Kallara ‘A’ also need not be opened for the present.
List on 14.7.2011 as first item.”
8. Soon thereafter, the respondent State of Kerala filed an affidavit dated
July 2011 and the stand of the State was recorded by this Hon’ble
Court (in its order dated 21
July 2011) as follows:-
All articles found in the Kallaras of Shree Padmanabha Swamy Temple
(including objects of value gold ornaments, precious stones and
antiques) belong to the Deity (Temple) and neither the State
Government nor the family of ex-rulers of Travancore can have any
claim over them.
The ornaments/antiques are not suitable or sufficient for creating a
separate museum. All the articles being property of the temple, should
remain within the confines of temple premises. It is neither practical nor
advisable to remove them from the temple environs security.
A senior officer of the rank of Additional Director General of Police has
been put in charge of the security of the temple. A control room has been
made operational. A special team of police officers has been entrusted
with the task of studying the security requirements. Ensuring adequate
security for the temple is the primary responsibility of the government
and it will do everything necessary for acquisition of the state-of-the-art
security systems (which are least obtrusive and most effective) and
install them shortly. The temple will be guarded round the clock.
Commandos have been posted to guard the gates.”
9. The Executive Officer of the Sree Padmanabha Swamy Temple also filed
an affidavit dated 14
July 2011 in which the views of His Highness Sri
Marthanda Varma, the Sole Trustee, and the Executive Officer of the
Temple were expressed. Those views have also been extracted by this
Hon’ble Court in its order dated 21
Page 9 of 93
All articles, ornaments, valuables, precious stones, antiques without
exception found in the Kallaras belong to the Presiding Deity of Shree
Padmanabhaswamy Temple and neither Mr. Marthanda Varma nor his
family members have any claim over them. Mr. Marthanda Varma
merely administers the property/assets of the Deity and the temple as the
The articles found in Kallara ‘A’ can be segregated into three categories:-
(i) Articles having historic/heritage/artistic value considered
“priceless” can be kept in the Kallara itself and taken out
periodically for being exhibited on special occasions within the
temple premises for the benefit of the devotees and general public;
(ii) Even articles which have only some historic/heritage/ artistic
value and cannot be considered to be “priceless” shall be kept in
the safe custody of Kallara;
(iii) Articles having monetary value but no historic/heritage/ artistic
value, could be disposed of and the proceeds used for purchasing
immovable properties for the renovation and maintenance of the
temple and for education including establishment of a ‘Veda
Pathsala’ and a ‘Thanthirika Peedom’ for imparting training and
grooming Temple priests.
Videography and photography of the articles in Kallara ‘A’ may be
avoided, as the inventory has already been completed. But if it is found
that the videography/photography is necessary for completing the
inventory, the same may be carried out strictly under the supervision
and the films/cartridges shall be deposited in a sealed cover so that
unauthorized copies are not made.
As the primary object of the inventory is to ascertain what is available
and not disposal of sale, there is no need to have a valuation. However
the services of a conservationist or expert in antiques may be availed for
categorizing the articles and completing the inventory in a scientific
While installing security systems, in particular CCTVs and other
electronic devices, care should be taken in regard to two aspects. First is
that the customs/traditions of the temple should be respected and taken
note of. Second is that worship by the devotees should not be disturbed.
The Police personnel on security duty, when inside the temple, should be
unobtrusive and comply with the dress code of the temple.”
10. Sri Rama Varma, the Petitioner in the companion Special Leave Petition
(Civil) No. 17081-17082 of 2011, also made certain suggestions, which
have been extracted by this Hon’ble Court in its order dated 21
Page 10 of 93
“(i) The articles found from the Kallaras should not be removed from
the sanctum sanctorum of the temple nor should be exhibited
outside the temple. A few sample items of antique/archaeological
value may be exhibited in the premises of the temple complex.
Alternatively they may be exhibited in the museum adjoining the
temple after making appropriate arrangements for display and
(ii) Opening Kallara-B may be avoided. If it is to be opened that
should be done after conducting the traditional Deva Prashnam.”
11. In such light, this Hon’ble Court, vide order dated 21
directed the following:-
4. After considering the submissions made during the arguments
and the suggestions in the affidavits, we find that action is required in
the following areas:-
a) A detailed inventory of the articles in Kallaras A and C to F with
videography/photography shall have to be completed under the
supervision of an Expert Committee. The videographer/photographer
employed for this purpose shall have security clearance from the local
b) The services of the Experts/Conservationists shall have to be availed
so that handling the articles at the time of inventory or disturbing the
environment in which they were stored in the Kallaras for centuries
does not affect the articles.
c) Adequate and proper arrangements will have to be made for security.
This would involve not only policing the premises but also having
security measures/systems as also provision of a strong
room/vaults/steel lining in the Kallaras with the assistance of a
5. To achieve the aforesaid results, we hereby constitute the
following Expert Committee:-
(1) Dr. C.V. Ananda Bose, Director General
of National Museum and Vice-
Chancellor, National Museum Institute,
(2) Dr. M.B. Nair, Head of Conservation
Department, National Museum
Institute, New Delhi
(3) Nominee of the Director, Archaeological
Survey of India (from its science/research
(4) Nominee of the Governor of Reserve
Bank of India who is an Expert from its
Page 11 of 93
(5) The Executive Officer of the Temple : Member
6. The said Expert Committee is entrusted with the following
(a) To organize the inventory by videography/photography of the articles
in Kallaras A, C to F and supervise such inventory and arrange for
proper storage of the articles in the respective Kallaras after
completion of the inventory.
(b) To examine and categorise the articles into three groups: (i)
Articles/ornaments having historic/heritage/artistic/ antique value.
(ii) Articles that are required for regular use in the temple for
religious purpose. (iii) Articles and ornaments which cannot be
considered to be having any historic/heritage/artistic/antique value,
but having merely a monetary value.
(c) To draw up a long term and short term measure for preservation,
conservation, maintenance of the articles/antiques in Kallaras of the
(d) Prepare a scheme for providing security measures in the temple
premises and in the Kallaras.
(e) Examine whether any of the articles are worthy of exhibition for the
benefit of the devotees and if so examine the feasibility of creation of a
high security museum within the temple premises or the adjoining
(f) Examine and give an opinion whether it is necessary to open Kallara
‘B’ at this stage.
7. In view of the constitution of the said Expert Committee, there is
no need to continue the large Committee of Observers. In place of the
seven member Observer Committee earlier appointed, the following
smaller Overseeing Committee is appointed to supervise and guide the
working of the Expert Committee and to complete the inventory and
continue as Observers:-
(i) Justice M.N. Krishnan - Co-ordinator
(ii) Mr. Marthanda Varma (or his special
(iii) Secretary, Devaswom Department of
Government of Kerala (or his special
8. We also issue the following supplementary directions:-
(a) The members of the Expert Committee shall schedule their visit in
co-ordination with the Co-ordinator of the Overseeing Committee,
so that the entire inventory is carried out continuously and
uninterruptedly on day-to-day basis.
(b) The state government and the Temple Trust shall meet the expenses
of the said Expert Committee including their travel, lodging and
Page 12 of 93
(c) Except the members of the Overseeing Committee, Expert
Committee and the personnel required for the actual physical
handling and security, no unauthorized person shall be permitted
to be present at the time of inventory.
(d) The reports in the Media about the value of the articles in the
Kallaras (admittedly unverified and speculative), without seeing or
examining the articles, is disturbing. We trust that the media will
show more care and responsibility in such matters and avoid
baseless speculations which are likely to mislead the public.
(e) The members of the Overseeing Committee/the Expert Committee
are expected to give their opinions and reports only to this Court
and none else.”
12. The Expert Committee submitted its Interim Report I, dated 17
2011, to this Hon’ble Court which consequently passed the following
order on 2
“Registry is directed to make available copies of Interim Report-I dated
17.8.2011 of the Expert Committee to learned counsel for the petitioners,
respondent No.7, respondents 3 to 6 in SLP (C) No.12361/2011 and to
learned counsel for the State Government.
List on 12.9.2011.”
13. However, on 9
September 2011, at the request of the learned counsel
for the parties, the matter stood adjourned to 16
14. On 16
September 2011, this Hon’ble Court was pleased to direct that
the matter be listed on 22
September 2011 for interim orders.
15. On 22
September 2011, this Hon’ble Court passed the following
interim orders after studying the Expert Committee’s Interim Report I:-
“We have examined the interim report dated 17.8.2011 of the Expert
Committee and the additional information submitted on 12.9.2011.
Having considered the said report and the submissions of the parties, the
following interim directions are issued:-
1.1) The Expert Committee has identified thirteen security
issues and suggested sixteen security measures to be put
in place. A copy thereof has already been made available
to the State Government and the Temple Administration.
Page 13 of 93
The state government has submitted that Security
Technical Committee Report putting forth an Integrated
Multi-Layered Security System for the Temple, for our
perusal. In view of security concerns, we do not propose
to extract either the security issues raised or the security
measures suggested by the Expert Committee or the
security measures proposed by the state government.
1.2) The state government has submitted that it has the
expertise and capability to provide the necessary security
measures; and it is ready and willing to provide the same
at its cost. The state government has assured that it
would spare no effort or cost to provide the best security
cover and has stated that there is no need to indent the
service of any central security force like CRPF as
suggested by the Expert Committee, for strengthening the
security. Having examined the Security Technical
Committee Report furnished by the state government and
its assurance to put in place an Integrated Multi-Layered
Security System for the Temple in a time bound manner,
we are satisfied that the state government would be in a
position to execute the security plan. There is no need for
the state government to requisition the services of any
central security agency.
1.3) The state government shall take note of the sixteen
security measures that have been suggested by the Expert
Committee in its Interim Report dated 17.8.2011 and
promptly implement the Integrated Multi-Layered
Security System explained and suggested in its Security
Technical Committee Report. In implementing the
security system, the state government will take note of
temple traditions, customs and practices, and
accommodate the views of the temple administration as far
as possible and feasible.
2.1) The Expert Committee has suggested ‘Digital Archiving
of Temple Antiques’ (for short ‘DATA’) to achieve the
following: (i) Recording of detailed information after
examination and assigning an Antique Identification
Number/Code; (ii) to store the information in a
computerized database; (iii) recording of a 3D image of the
object and link it to the Data Base. The Expert Committee
is permitted to implement the said ‘DATA’ procedure.
2.2) The Expert Committee has recommended appointment of
Kerala State Electronic Corporation (KELTRON), a state
government undertaking with technical expertise from
Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC), an unit of
Department of Space for implementing the work plan.
Having regard to the security concerns and approval of
the said agency by the state government, we accept the
suggestion that the ‘DATA’ work should be executed by
the said government undertaking instead of inviting
tenders from private agencies.
2.3) KELTRON has estimated the cost of executing the work to
be Rs.3,16,35,000/- made up of Rs.1,65,35,000/- for
Page 14 of 93
hardware, Rs.40,00,000/- for software, and
Rs.1,11,00,000/- for services and miscellaneous items.
The cost appears to be very high and far exceeds the
figures shown in the Interim Report. The feasibility of
borrowing/hiring the equipment can be considered. The
software cost and servicing cost requires drastic reduction.
However, KELTRON being a state government
undertaking and VSSC, the technical expert being a unit
of Department of Space, the Expert Committee may
proceed to entrust the work to KELTRON after involving
the state government in the process of negotiations
relating to cost and the schedule of payment. We do not
propose to approve the said price. As the state government
has to bear the expenditure involved, it will take the final
decision on the pricing after negotiations, in consultation
with the Expert Committee. The state government shall
nominate a Nodal Officer for this purpose failing which
the Secretary, Devaswom Department shall be the Nodal
3. The Committee has suggested time framework of one year
to complete the entire work. Efforts shall be made to shorten the
time schedule without sacrificing quality of work. To ensure that
the time schedule is maintained, we request the state government
to take appropriate decisions and release the required funds
without any delay. The Expert committee shall maintain
constant supervision and follow up, to avoid delay.
4. The issue relating to Kallara ‘B’ shall be considered after
substantial progress is made in regard to documentation,
categorization, security, preservation, conservation, maintenance
and storage relating to the contents in the other Kallaras.
5.1) The committee has requested for sanction of an interim
budget outlay of Rs.2,98,82,000/-. This will be considered
by the state government and appropriate amounts shall be
sanctioned and released. The Expert Committee shall
ensure that the expenditure is kept to be the minimum and
avoid any kind of wasteful expenditure. Having regard to
the huge expenditure that is contemplated, the state
government shall provide for appropriate accounting/audit
assistance so that the fund utilization is economical,
efficient and transparent.
5.2) The Temple Administration has expressed its inability to
make any significant contribution towards the expenditure
involved, having regard to its limited resources. However,
having regard to its participatory status, the Temple
Administration shall contribute Rs.25,00,000/- per year
towards the funds required for completing the work plan
and for security arrangements. The balance shall be
contributed by the state government.
Page 15 of 93
6.1) The Expert Committee may take all necessary steps for
preservation and conservation of the contents of Kallaras.
6.2) Temple Administration shall identify a suitable space
(keeping in view the security concerns and the temple
traditions) for construction of a safety vault/storage space
as per Reserve Bank of India norms in consultation with
the Expert Committee and commence construction
6.3) To maintain confidentiality and avoid logistic problems,
the Temple Administration shall make available an
independent office space with proper security in the temple
premises for the Overseeing Committee and the Expert
Committee, for the duration of the project.
6.4) The Expert Committee has reported that the term of the
office of the Coordinator Dr. Anand Bose, under the
Central Government has come to an end on 20.9.2011. If
his services are not extended by the central government,
we request the state government to consider engaging his
services as a Co-ordinator of the Expert Committee for a
period of one year so that there will be continuity and co-
ordination in the functioning of the Expert Committee.
6.5) The state government and the Temple Administration
shall extend their full cooperation to the Overseeing
Committee and the Expert Committee for execution of the
DATA project and security measures.
6.6) The Expert Committee will take the approval of the
Overseeing Committee before taking final decisions on
matters of policy and execution.
7. List after three months for the next Interim Report of the
Expert Committee and for final disposal.”
16. The Expert Committee submitted its Interim Report II, dated 30
December 2011, on 5
January 2012. In that report, the Expert
Committee divided the directions of this Hon’ble Court into three parts:
those relating to the responsibility of the State Government, the Temple
Administration and the Expert Committee. As far as the State
Government was concerned, this Hon’ble Court had directed it to:
(i) release adequate funds to implement the directions of this
Certain subsequent orders passed by the Registrar and the Judge-in-Chambers are not being
extracted in the instant report of the Amicus Curiae.
Page 16 of 93
(ii) provide accounting/audit assistance to the Expert Committee;
(iii) negotiate and reduce the cost so that digital archiving of antiques
could be entrusted to KELTRON;
(iv) implement the security scheme for the protection of valuables in
the Kallaras; and
(v) appoint a Nodal Officer for negotiation with KELTRON.
17. The Temple Administration, on the other hand, had been directed to:
(i) release Rs.25 lakhs for the work relating to the Temple;
(ii) provide office accommodation for the Expert Committee; and ,
(iii) construct a safety vault/storage (although the Amicus Curiae is
unable to discover such a direction in the orders).
18. As far as the responsibility of the Expert Committee is concerned, this
Hon’ble Court had directed the Committee to:
(i) reduce the time frame to complete the inventory;
(ii) reduce the expenditure without sacrificing the quality.
19. The Expert Committee however recorded that:
(i) the State Government had not yet released adequate funds;
(ii) the State Government had not yet provided accounting/audit
assistance to the Expert Committee;
(iii) on the issue of negotiation and reduction of cost, while the cost
had been reduced through negotiation with KELTRON, the work
could not be entrusted for want of funds;
(iv) out of the 14 important security measures, action had been taken
in respect of two and initiated in respect of one;
Page 17 of 93
(v) a Nodal Officer for negotiation with KELTRON was being
(vi) the Temple Administration had not yet released Rs.25 lakhs;
(vii) the Expert Committee had not yet been provided office
(viii) action had not yet been taken for the construction of the safety
20. As far as the directions to the Expert Committee were concerned, the
Expert Committee assured that time would be reduced at every stage of
the work but it would be subject to the releasing of funds without any
delay by the State Government. The Expert Committee further assured
that the expenditure would be kept at a minimum without
compromising on quality.
21. In the meanwhile, the State of Kerala filed an application (I.A.
No.10/2011 in SLP No.11295 of 2011) requesting that Dr. M.Velayudhan
Nair be appointed as the Coordinator of the Expert Committee and
informing this Hon’ble Court that the services of Dr. C.V. Ananda Bose
(who was named as the Coordinator in this Hon’ble Court’s order dated
July 2011) need not be continued upon his superannuation.
Accordingly, the State of Kerala prayed that this Hon’ble Court “approve
the nomination of the Secretary (Devaswom) as the nodal officer pursuant to the
order of this Hon’ble Court dated 22
September 2011” and “in view of the
superannuation of Dr. Ananda Bose, appoint Dr. M.V. Nair as the Coordinator
of the Expert Committee”.
22. On 5
January 2012, this Hon’ble Court approved the nomination of the
Secretary (Devaswom) as the Nodal Officer (the said officer was
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nominated by Sri Jay Kumar, the then Additional Chief Secretary and
the present Chief Secretary, Government of Kerala). This Hon’ble Court
further directed that Dr. M. Velayudhan Nair would act as the
Coordinator of the Expert Committee, and that copies of the Expert
Committee’s Interim Report II should be provided to all the parties. This
Hon’ble Court’s order therefore read as follows:-
“By this application made by the State of Kerala, it is prayed that
nomination of Secretary (Devaswoms) as the Nodal Officer may be
We record the statement of Ms. Liz Mathew, learned counsel for the
State of Kerala that Mr. Jai Kumar, Additional Chief Secretary has been
appointed as the Nodal Officer. The nomination made by the State
Government is approved by this order.
We are informed that Dr. Anand Bose, who was earlier appointed as Co-
ordinator has also retired.
Having regard to this fact, we direct that Dr. M.V. Nair shall now act as
Co-ordinator of the Expert Committee.
I.A. No. 10 stands disposed of accordingly.
I.A. No. 11 of 2011:
Heard Mr. S. Thanuskodi, applicant in person.
Application for intervention is rejected.
S.L.P. (C) Nos. 11295/11, 12361/11 and 17081-17082/2011:
Let copy of the Interim Report-II dated December 30, 2011 submitted by
the Expert Committee be provided to all the parties.
We expect the parties to take necessary action required to be taken by
them as per the earlier orders of this Court without any delay.
Let the Special Leave Petitions come up for consideration of the Interim
Report-II on February 15, 2012 at 3.30 P.M.”
23. The Expert Committee submitted its Interim Report III under the
stewardship of Dr. M. Velayudhan Nair. The said report recorded that:-
(i) the State Government had sanctioned a sum of Rs. 2.5 crores to
Page 19 of 93
(ii) the State Government had initiated steps for providing funds for
expenses towards the functioning of the Expert Committee;
(iii) the 16 points of the security scheme implementation were
reviewed and a progress report had been appended;
(iv) the Temple Administration had provided an office for the Expert
Committee at Ramanamadam and the meeting of the Overseeing
Committee and the Expert Committee took place in the said office
(v) the Temple Administration had opened a bank account in the
name of the Expert Committee and a sum of Rs.15 lakhs had been
transferred by the Temple in the said account;
(vi) work space had been provided inside the Temple for the effective
functioning of the Expert Committee;
(vii) as far as the Expert Committee was concerned, it had reduced the
expenses for its functioning from Rs.1.48 crores to Rs.75 lakhs per
year, without affecting the quality of its work;
(viii) the Expert Committee had decided to start the documentation
process as per the work plan approved by this Hon’ble Court;
(ix) KELTRON had started importing equipment necessary for the
(x) software had been developed for documentation of the valuables;
(xi) the first successful demonstration of documentation was held off-
site on 7
February 2012, in the presence of experts, and the
second on–site demonstration was held on 9
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(xii) the best available technology was being used for the inventory
work and that the process would be reviewed after completing
the process for 100 objects;
(xiii) the Expert Committee would take advice from international
agencies without compromising confidentiality and without
acting in any manner inconsistent with the directions of this
(xiv) the Expert Committee was now fully equipped for starting the
documentation session from 10
February 2012. However, since
‘Pariharakriya’ of the Temple was scheduled to be held, the
commencement was deferred to 20
February 2012. The Expert
Committee however pointed out that though it was starting the
process of making an inventory with Vault ‘C’, from which the
valuables are taken out occasionally for rituals, unless a proper
vault as ordered by this Hon’ble Court was constructed the
progress of the inventory work would be affected. The Expert
Committee therefore sought directions for:-
a. the construction of a security vault on the norms of the
Reserve Bank of India within a period of 3 months;
b. immediate release of funds as per the revised budget from
the State Government to enable effective and proper
functioning of the Expert Committee;
c. permitting the Expert Committee to take advice from
international agencies with adequate experience in similar
ventures, without compromising confidentiality and without
violating the orders of this Hon’ble Court;
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d. opening and closing of the Kallaras on a daily basis
according to requirements for implementing the work plan.
In addition, the Interim Report also annexed a chart showing the
progress/status as far as the security scheme was concerned.
24. Thereafter, on 15
February 2012, this Hon’ble passed the following
“Let the copy of the Interim Report-III submitted by the Expert
Committee be provided to all the parties.
List the matters for consideration on February 23, 2012 at 3 P.M.
In the meanwhile, it is directed that Principal Sub-Judge,
Thiruvananthapuram shall not pass any order/or proceed with the O.S.
No. 625 of 2007.”
25. It may be noted at this juncture that O.S. No.625/2007 (cited in the order
above) had been instituted by one N. Vishwambaran and one R.
Padmanabhan under Section 91 of the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908.
The suit, according to the Plaintiffs, was instituted in a representative
capacity for the devotees. It was contended that the wealth which was
contributed by the Rulers was kept safely inside the four vaults of the
Nalambalam which were described as the Plaint ‘B’ Schedule property.
26. In the plaint, it was stated that the 2
Defendant, namely, one Col.
Sasidharan R., who was then the Executive Officer of the Sree
Padmanabha Swamy Temple, had opened the Kallaras under the
directions of His Highness Sri Marthanda Varma and taken out huge
quantities of gold and diamonds without recording it and had then
taken the valuables to unknown destinations. The said incident was
alleged to have taken place on 2
August 2007. It was also alleged that
cameras were taken inside the Temple premises and that photographs
had been taken inside the sanctum sanctorum.
Page 22 of 93
27. The Plaintiffs further contended that the Temple is a treasure house of
art and architecture, which is of great historical importance, and thus
needed to be preserved.
28. Accordingly, the Plaintiffs sought the following reliefs in the
(i) “A decree of permanent prohibitory injunction restraining the
defendants, his agents, henchmen or any other person claiming to
have any right in the affairs or the Temple from opening the six
Kallara (cellars) inside the Nalambalam which is Plaint B schedule
herein or take any articles from the cellar in any form, in any
manner or for any purpose or act in any manner detrimental to the
interest of the Deity or the devotees.
(ii) To pass a decree of mandatory injunction removing all articles
brought inside the temple that is Plaint A schedule by the 2
defendant against the customs, practice and traditions at his own
expenses or in the alternative permit the plaintiffs to remove the
same at their own expenses and to recover the same from the
defendants and their assets.
(iii) To allow costs of the suit to be realized from the defendants and their
assets both movable and immovable.
(iv) To grant such other or such further reliefs as this Honourable Court
deems fit and proper in the facts and circumstances of the case.”
29. The plaint schedule properties were described in the suit as follows:-
“PLAINT SCHEDULE PROPERTIES
PLAINT “A” SCHEDULE
Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple situated inside the Fort Area with
eight entrances spread over a sprawling 7.04 acres of land together
with numerous buildings, temples and all other things attached
thereto of Vanchiyoor Village, Trivandrum Taluk, Trivandrum
PLAINT “B” SCHEDULE
a. Kallara No.1 on the southern side of the Nalambalam inside the
b. Kallara No.2 on the South west corner outside the
chandanamandapam inside the Nalambalam.
c. Kallara No.3 on the north western side inside the Nalambalam.
d. Kallara No.4 on the northern side inside the Nalambalam.
e. Kallara No.5 inside the Sreekovil on the northern side next to the
idol of Vishwaksenar.
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f. Kallara No.6 inside the Sreekovil on the south eastern corner
towards the exit gate to Thekkedom Narasimhamoorthy Temple.”
30. On 18
December 2007, certain interlocutory applications which were
filed on behalf of the Plaintiffs and Defendants came up for hearing
before the Trial Court. I.A. No.4704/2007 was filed by the two Plaintiffs
seeking an interim prohibitory injunction. I.A. No.5510/2007 was filed
by the Plaintiffs to implead the State of Kerala as the third Defendant in
the suit and I.A. No.5195/2007 was filed by Defendants 1 and 2 seeking
to question the very maintainability of the suit. While deciding these
applications, the Trial Court acknowledged the history of the Temple in
the following words:-
“……It is in the heart of the city of Trivandrum and the name of the
city is derived from the holy serpent Ananda and the city is known as
the “Puram of Ananda”. There cannot be a history of Trivandrum
and the history of Kerala without mentioning the history of this great
31. As far as the issue of maintainability was concerned, the Trial Court
came to the conclusion that there was no Ruler of erstwhile Travancore
since the demise of His Highness Sri Chithira Thirunal Balarama Varma
and thus the Court had jurisdiction to try the suit. The Trial Court also
concluded that the State of Kerala ought to be impleaded as the third
32. On the important issue of grant of prohibitory injunction, the Court
noted that it would act as parens patriae and that:
“…..during the interregnum defendants 1 and 2 should not be
allowed to misappropriate the Temple treasures inside the Temple
which attracted even Tipu Sultan once upon a time. All the six
Kallaras require great protection and safeguard. At present,
murajapam is going on inside the Temple and for that purpose two
Advocate Commissioners are appointed as per the request of
defendants 1 and 2 in I.A. No.6056/2007. Murajapam will conclude
on 14th January 2008 as per the schedule. The Advocate
Commissioners, are devotees of the Temple. If it is necessary to open
any of the Kallaras in the meanwhile, it can be done under the
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supervision of this Court and with the help of the Commissioners Shri
B.R. Shyam and Shri V. Suresh Kumar. Defendants shall not suffer
any irreparable injury on account of the order of interim prohibitory
injunction. Interim prohibitory injunction shall continue until the
matter is finally heard along with the submissions of the State of
33. Interestingly, even though notice had been issued by this Hon’ble Court,
along with the grant of interim directions on 2
May 2011 (and on
subsequent dates), the parties continued to move applications before the
Trial Court. Thus, for example, on account of the subsistence of the
order passed by the Trial Court, the Executive Officer moved an
application to take out vessels from the Temple vaults at the instance of
the Advocate Commissioners for the conduct of the rectification
ceremony (Pariharakriya) held between 5
February 2012 and 16
February 2012. The Trial Court recorded that the Commissioners had
been appointed on 22
December 2001 and were permitted to take out
the vessels for the conduct of regular festivals, religious practices and
rituals of the Temple. However, the Trial Court’s order also observes
that an interim report had been filed by the Advocate Commissioners on
January 2012 stating that the vessels which were taken out and
handed over to the Executive Officer had not been returned until the
time of filing of the report. A second report was then filed by the
Advocate Commissioners stating that they had given a notice to the
Executive Officer to return the vessels mentioned earlier. It was further
reported that on 4
February 2012, the Advocate Commissioners were
present to receive back the vessels, but the vessels were not returned and
neither the Executive Officer nor his representative was present. The
person representing the staff of the Temple allegedly stated to the
Advocate Commissioners that the vessels would not be returned until
the conclusion of the ‘Pariharakriya’. The Trial Court therefore noted that
Page 25 of 93
the Executive Officer had postponed the return of the vessels and had
kept them for the purpose of the ‘Pariharakriya’ even though such use
had not been authorized by the Court. The Trial Court therefore
observed in its order dated 9
February 2012 that:-
“The Commissioners have stated in the open Court that one vessel
would weigh 600 gms which shows the value of the article. There are
around 200 vessels taken which are now in the custody of the
Executive Officer and its value cannot be imagined. Such articles are
kept at the hands of the Executive Officer without the authority of the
Court. This Court cannot appreciate such conduct. That apart, the
Supreme Court in its order dated 2nd May 2011, made certain
34. The Trial Court then referred to interim direction (b) in this Hon’ble
Court’s order dated 2
May 2011 and reproduced the same as follows:-
“In regard to the articles in Kallaras C and D used for regular rituals
and the ornaments etc. in Kallaras E and F said to be in the custody of
Periya Nambi and Thekkadom Nambi, the existing practices,
procedures and rituals may be followed in regard to the opening and
closing of the Kallaras and using of the articles therein. As far as
Kallaras A and B which is reportedly not opened for more than a
century, they shall be opened only for the purpose of making inventory
of the articles and then closed and sealed again.”
35. The Trial Court however said that the vessels which were kept in
Kallaras ‘C’ and ‘D’ were used for regular poojas and that this Hon’ble
Court had granted permission to take the vessels out four times for the
conduct of regular rituals and religious practices. However, it was
“Now vessels are sought for in this petition for the conduct of
rectification ceremony or pariharakriya which is not a regular
religious practice or regular ritual of the temple…..”[Emphasis
36. The Trial Court therefore concluded that:-
“…..Now since the matter has been seized by the Honourable
Supreme Court the Executive Officer apparently has to obtain the
permission of the Honourable Supreme Court in regard to the
permission regarding the conduct of Pariharakriya. It is not obtained.
It is not obtained from this court also. Thus it is held that the vessels
cannot be taken out for the following two reasons:-
Page 26 of 93
(i) As the vessels are not returned as per the order 22.12.2011 of this
court, this court cannot grant permission.
(ii) Since Pariharakriya is not a regular ritual or religious practice of
the temple, this court cannot grant permission for taking out the
vessels for the said purpose for which permission has to be
obtained from Honourable Supreme Court or this court……
It is also directed that the Executive Officer shall return back the
vessels taken out as per order dated 22.12.2011 forthwith to the
Commissioners and the Commissioners shall take back the vessels
after checking same and keep it in the earmarked vaults. The
Commissioners shall file report regarding the same and the Executive
Officer shall also file an affidavit on 13.2.2012 after complying with
the direction of this court…..”
37. As a result, the Trial Court dismissed the application which had been
filed by the Executive Officer to take out the vessels for the purpose of
38. It may be noted that in O.S. No.625/2007, the State has filed a written
statement on the basis that the Ruler of the erstwhile State of Travancore
acts as Trustee and the properties and funds of the Temple are managed
by the Ruler. The State has also said that the Executive Officer is
appointed under the control and supervision of the Ruler of erstwhile
Travancore. The State has further submitted that:
“….in the case of Shree Padmanabha Swamy Temple, there seems no
valid reason for Government to interfere in the administration of the
Temple. The administration of the Temple has not broken down nor is
there any other allegation of a major nature which forces Government
to interfere in the administrative affairs of the Temple…...”
This Hon’ble Court finally stayed the proceedings in O.S. No.625/2007
vide order dated 15
39. As far as the Special Leave Petitions are concerned, on 23
2012, this Hon’ble Court was pleased to pass the following directions:-
“On hearing Mr. K.K. Venugopal, learned senior counsel for the
petitioners, Mr. Dhruv Mehta, learned senior counsel for respondent
Nos. 4 to 7 and Ms. Liz Mathew, learned counsel for the State of
Kerala, we pass the following order in continuation of the earlier
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1) The removal of articles necessary for the conduct of pujas,
rituals and other ceremonies from Kalaras ‘C’ and ‘D’ shall
be done with the help of two Advocate Commissioners, S/Sh
B.R. Shyam and V. Suresh Kumar under the supervision of
the Expert Committee. The Advocate Commissioners shall
fully co-operate with the Expert Committee and abide by the
directions that may be given by the Expert Committee from
time to time.
2) In case, the Expert Committee finds that the Advocate
Commissioners are not co-operating with it or not following
with its directions, it will be open to the Expert Committee
to replace the Advocate Commissioners by two respectable
3) For the purpose of inventorisation of Kallaras ‘C’ and ‘D’, it
is clarified that the help of the Advocate Commissioners is
not required and the Expert Committee shall be free to open
the Kallara ‘C’ and ‘D’ for the purpose of inventorisation as
and when necessary.
4) The Expert Committee shall submit the estimate for
construction of the security wall on the norms of the Reserve
Bank of India as well as the estimate involved in seeking
advice from the international agency for which permission
has been sought from this Court. These estimates shall be
submitted within four weeks from today.
5) The State of Kerala is directed to release the fund as per the
revised budget for the proper functioning of the Expert
Committee immediately and in no case later than two weeks
List the matter on March 29, 2012 at 3.30 p.m. for further
40. In the meanwhile, the Expert Committee submitted its Interim Report IV
March 2012. The Interim Report recorded that:-
(i) 859 artefacts from Kallaras ‘C’, ‘E’ and ‘F’ had been inventorised;
(ii) Inventorisation of upto 90% of the artefacts in Kallara ‘C’ had
(iii) More than 60% of the inventorisation work with respect to
Kallaras ‘E’ and ‘F’ had been completed;
(iv) Inventory work was stopped from 24
March to 15
April 2012 in
view of the ‘Paikuni’ festival;
Page 28 of 93
(v) On the question of constructing a security vault, the Expert
Committee set out various points which had been brought to
notice in the representation given by the Temple Administration.
One of the points which was made was that any new vault must
be constructed according to the vastu tradition. In this respect, the
Expert Committee had approached Sri Kannippayyoor Krishnan
Nambuthirippadu, a renowned vastu expert and Dean of the
Vastuvidya Gurukulam (an autonomous institution of the
Government of Kerala), who had given a report suggesting the
strengthening of the existing Kallaras and stating that if a new one
had to be constructed, it should be built in the space between
Kallara ‘B’ and Kallara ‘C’. As a result, the Expert Committee was
of the opinion that construction of a new vault should be deferred
till Kallara ‘B’ is opened and priority should be given to
strengthening Kallara ‘C’ which, at present, houses the artefacts
for occasional use by the Temple. The report also noted that a
suitable architect competent to undertake the work of
strengthening the vaults had been identified by the State Bank of
41. The Expert Committee’s Interim Report IV also noted that it was
forming three Expert Groups:-
(i) Expert Group I to study the historical aspects of the Temple;
(ii) Expert Group II to carry out technical studies;
(iii) Expert Group III to study the utilization of valuables and the
construction of a museum.
42. The Expert Committee thereafter sought orders on the following
questions: whether it could open Kallara ‘B’; whether it could defer the
Page 29 of 93
construction of a new vault till such opening; and whether the articles
could be stored in the existing Kallaras without compromising the
security and preservation? The Expert Committee also sought a
direction for the strengthening of Kallara ‘C’ which would cost
approximately Rs.37 lakhs.
43. On 18
April 2012, this Hon’ble Court passed the following order:-
“By Interim Report-IV dated March 26, 2012, the Expert Committee
has sought the following directions:-
(i) whether the Committee can open Kallara ‘B’;
(ii) whether the Committee can defer the construction of a new vault
till Kallara ‘B’ is opened and to decide whether the articles can
be stored in the existing kallaras, without compromising on
security and preservation and
(iii) direction on expenditure for strengthening Kallara C, costing
approximately Rs. thirty seven lakhs.
2. In the order dated July 21, 2011 inter alia, this Court directed the
Expert Committee to examine and give the opinion as to whether it is
necessary to open Kallara ‘B’ at this stage.
3. In its Interim Report-IV, the Committee has not given any
opinion after examining all aspects of the matter as directed in the
order dated July 21, 2011 as to whether it is necessary to open Kallara
‘B’ at this stage.
4. In our view, the inventorisation of the articles of Kallara ‘A’ has
to be completed first. On completion thereof, the Expert Committee
shall examine the matter as per the order dated July 21, 2011 and
submit its opinion about opening of kallara ‘B’.
5. In its Progress Report-I, the Co-ordinator of the Expert
Committee has submitted summary of work so far completed (i) in a
sealed cover comprising Article I in electronic format and (ii) Article
II in hard copy format. He has also sent the password and report on
existing vaults in sealed covers in Article III and Article IV
6. The Expert Committee shall ensure that summary of work in
electronic format and hard copy is kept in a sealed cover and no
further copies are prepared.
7. The Court Masters shall put the above Articles I to IV and also
copies prepared for the second set in a sealed cover and hand over the
same to Registrar (J-III) for keeping in his lock and key.
8. In the Progress Report-I, the Co-ordinator has indicated that the
inventorisation of kallara ‘A’ will take place after April 23, 2012. He
has also stated that it is not practical to keep the valuables from
Kallara ‘A’ back into the same space without compromising the
conservation and safety standards.
Page 30 of 93
9. In our opinion, the Expert Committee has to ensure that after
inventorisation, all the articles/valuables from kallara ‘A’ are kept
back in the same space and with the help of the experts it must be
ensured that there is no compromise to the conservation and safety
standards of these articles/valuables.
10. As regards the strengthening of kallara ‘C’, in the Interim
Report-IV, it is stated that it would cost approximately Rs.35/37
lakhs. In our view, Kallara ‘C’ needs to be strengthened and 2/3
its cost must be borne by the State of Kerala and 1/3
by the Temple
11. The State of Kerala and the Temple Management are directed to
contribute their share towards expenditure for strengthening of
kallara ‘C’ to the Expert Committee within one month from today.
12. List the matter on August 8, 2012 at 3.30 p.m. for further
44. Then, on 8
August 2012, this Hon’ble Court was pleased to pass the
“I.A. No. 14 of 2012 in S.L.P. (C) No. 11295 of 2011:
Respondent No. 1 – T.P. Sundara Rajan is reported to have died on
July 17, 2011. The Writ Petition which was filed before the Kerala
High Court was in the nature of Public Interest Litigation.
Accordingly, it is not necessary to bring on record the legal heirs of
deceased respondent No. 1 – T.P. Sundara Rajan.
The name of deceased respondent No.1 – T.P. Sundara Rajan is struck
off from the array of parties.
Amended cause-title shall be filed within two weeks from today.
S.L.P. (C) No. 11295 of 2011:
Let the copy of the Interim Report No. V submitted by the Expert
Committee be supplied to the parties concerned.
Writ Petition (C) No. 518 of 2011:
Although, we do not intend to issue notice in this Writ Petition at this
stage but the petitioner, if so advised, may supply copy of the Writ
Petition to all the parties in the Special Leave Petition.
List this group of matters on August 23, 2012 at 3.30 p.m.”
45. In the meanwhile, the Expert Committee submitted Interim Report V.
The said report, dated 6
August 2012, states as follows:-
(i) “All the 1469 groups of objects kept in Kallara C and 617 objects
kept in Kallara ‘D’ have been completely documented.
Page 31 of 93
(ii) Inventorisation of 41 items in Kallaras E & F has been
completed. The remaining objects are of daily use for rituals and
the Nambis (temple priests) were not prepare[d] [to] spare any of
them for inventorisation. This is reported to the Hon’ble
(iii) The inventorisation of Kallara A started on 5.7.2012 and the
work is in full swing. A total of 631 objects out of Kallara ‘A’
have been documented so far.”
46. The Expert Committee also noted that it had earlier recommended the
strengthening of vault ‘C’ so that the valuables in Kallara ‘A’ could be
transferred to Kallara ‘C’ after inventorisation. However, the Interim
Report stated as follows:
“According to their scientific investigation, Vault A, holding most of
the valuable items is the safest of all opened vaults in the Temple and
priority has to be given for strengthening it.
The Joint meeting of the Expert and Overseeing committees convened
on 12.7.2012 decided to accept the recommendation of the Expert
group and decided, subject to the approval of the Hon. Supreme
Court, to strengthen Kallara 'A' giving priority. The Committee also
accepted the decision of the expert group to select Godrej as the
implementing agency considering the competency and reputation of
the firm in this field and also taking into account the intricate
problems involved in strengthening without affecting heritage
structure of the vault. It was also decided to invite the topmost
specialist from Godrej for an “on the spot” study of the problem in the
presence of the Expert Group. M/s. Godrej responded promptly by
sending the topmost person from their Design Wing who inspected
the vaults on 23.7.2012 in the presence of Chief Engineer PWD and
Shri. T. Saboo of ISRO and submitted a provisional proposal which
has been examined by Shri Vikas Verma, nominated member of RBI to
the Expert Committee who has consolidated facts and submitted the
report. The report is appended as ANNEXURE-l The scientific
strength of the vaults A & C by ISRO and the report is enclosed as
Hon. Supreme Court may grant approval to the proposal of the Expert
Group to strengthen the vault A in the place of Vault C and also, to
engage M/s Godrej &Boyce Ltd., for this purpose. Also, permission
may be given to the Committee to shift the valuables in Vault A, kept
locked and sealed in different steel boxes, to Vault C when the
strengthening work starts in Vault A and store them in Vault C till
the completion of the work of strengthening, without any compromise
on security of the articles.”
Page 32 of 93
47. On the issue of storage of data from inventorisation and retrieval of the
same, the Expert Committee decided to store the inventory data with
ISRO in the interests of secrecy and as per disaster management norms.
June 2012, it was also decided that a vault in the State Bank of
India / State Bank of Travancore should be hired to store the hard copies
of the backup of the data and to authorize Sri Adithya Varma, nominee
of His Highness Sri Marthanda Varma, and Sri C. Karthikeyan Nair, the
present Administrative Officer of the Expert Committee, to jointly
operate the same.
48. It must be noted that earlier, on 9
April 2012, the Expert Committee
had decided that the aforesaid data must be stored in three different
locations, one at ISRO and the remaining in locations to be identified. It
appears, however, that His Highness Sri Marthanda Varma was of the
opinion that this may tantamount to carrying the data outside the
Temple premises which may not be in conformity with the directions
issued by this Hon’ble Court and Sri Marthanda Varma was therefore of
the opinion that the same needed an express permission from this
Hon’ble Court. In view of this concern, as a temporary measure, a
Godrej storewell was purchased and kept in the server room to store the
hard discs with the backup of the data contained in the
server/computers. Undoubtedly, such a backup of the data is necessary.
49. The Expert Committee’s Report further points out that there are fair
chances of losing the electronic data from the server on account of
disasters. Therefore, the Expert Committee states that it should be
allowed to store the data in soft copy and hard copy format in an
environment which will survive all forms of disasters, as well as the
adverse effects of climatic variation.
Page 33 of 93
50. The Expert Committee has also pointed out that the Government of
Kerala has given directions preventing the Committee from utilizing the
services of Sri V.K. Harikumar, Executive Officer, and 8 others in the
inventorisation process on the ground of adverse reports on their
antecedents. As a result, it appears that the Expert Committee has not
been able to issue security passes (for entry to the work area) to these
persons for want of necessary certification from the Home Department,
Government of Kerala. The Expert Committee, however, records that:-
“….the committee is forced to use the services of some of these persons
including Shri Harikumar, who, being the Executive Officer of the
Temple, is a Member of the Expert Committee besides being the
custodian of one set of the keys of the vaults….”
51. It is further recorded as follows:-
“Though the committee does not have any complaints against Shri
Harikumar and others mentioned in the report of the Home Ministry
it considers it as a security lapse allowing persons to enter the
workspace without valid (sic) passes…..”
52. Although the Expert Committee records that His Highness Sri
Marthanda Varma did not respond to requests for making an alternate
arrangement in place of the present Executive Officer, the Amicus Curiae,
in consultation with His Highness Sri Marthanda Varma and Justice M.
N. Krishnan, has proposed certain alternative arrangements (set out later
in this Report) to deal with various issues.
However, if this Hon’ble Court is satisfied with the material at
hand that the antecedents of any of the said individuals is less than
perfect, it may be safer to appoint new persons instead, without making
any comment on the credentials and integrity of those being replaced.
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53. Moreover, the Expert Committee has also pointed out that a report was
published in a Malayalam Daily called ‘Mangalam’, on 28
containing allegations that:
“Mr. Harikumar, Executive Officer of the temple and a member of the
Expert committee by virtue of his position reported to the royal family
a deliberate attempt by some members of the Committee to leak out the
It may be noted that the said report has also been followed by various
writings on the internet that seek to defame the Expert Committee. It
may be said in fairness to Sri Harikumar, that he has denied any such
54. In Part VI of Interim Report V, the Expert Committee has noted that:
“While examining the articles for the purpose of inventorisation, tags
attached to the articles, revealing the identification numbers given to
the items during earlier stock taking (For instance, in M.E 1104
corresponding to Year 1930-31) have been found.”
55. The Expert Committee therefore notes that the registers/records
prepared on those occasions would be of use in the present
inventorisation process as they would help in authentication as well as
speeding up the work.
56. It is however submitted that the Expert Committee has sought directions
from this Hon’ble Court that the records and registers of earlier stock
taking be provided even though there does not appear to have been any
request by the Committee to the Temple Administration for the same,
nor does there appear to be any refusal on the part of the Temple
Administration to part with such records of earlier inventories.
57. The Interim Report also lays out the following recommendations for
enhancing the security:
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(i) All the pending security issues, such as procurement of multi–
zone DFMDs, explosive detectors, x-ray baggage scanners, fire
fighting equipment, etc. may be done on priority. Progress on this
aspect is not satisfactory.
(ii) The training of Temple security staff on usage of portable fire
extinguishers and management of disasters like stampedes and
bomb explosions should be carried out on priority basis by
trained police staff.
(iii) The backup data of CCTV systems and inventory data of the
Temple valuables are at present being kept on site, which is
against the principles of disaster management. They should be
secured at off–site locations immediately.
(iv) Proper fire-fighting arrangements may be made for the room
housing the server which stores data relating to the inventory of
the Temple valuables.
(v) Installation of bollards may be done on priority as they are
required for imposing effective restrictions on vehicular
movements near and around the Temple premises.
(vi) All unauthorized shops, political party offices and eateries in the
proximity of the Temple premises may be removed by
appropriate authorities on priority.
(vii) Electricity poles located close to the perimeter wall may either be
relocated to a safe distance or should be covered by barbed wire
for eliminating the possibility of intrusion.
(viii) Drainage channel openings may be blocked/fortified by installing
steel grills at the openings.
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58. In Part VIII of the Interim Report, the Expert Committee has stated that
it commenced the inventory work on 20
February 2012 and that it has
completed inventorisation of all objects in vaults ‘C’ and ‘D’, as well as
that of the permitted objects in vaults ‘E’ and ‘F’. However, the
inventorisation of items in vault ‘A’ is taking a longer time on account of
the work involved in analyzing the quality of the gems, their purity, and
their physical properties such as colour and transparency. The Interim
Report then goes on to state that the Expert Committee is using
internationally accepted techniques and that inventorisation is being
carried out using software of International Council of Museums (ICOM)
standards. The Expert Committee hopes to complete the entire
inventorisation work by 20
59. In light of the above, the Expert Committee has sought directions from
this Hon’ble Court on the following points:-
(i) Whether strengthening of vault ‘A’ can be given preference to
strengthening of vault ‘C’?
(ii) If so, whether the Expert Committee can engage M/s Godrej on
terms negotiated by the Chief Engineer, PWD, Government of
(iii) Whether the revised cost for the aforesaid strengthening work can
be shared between Government of Kerala and the Temple in the
ratio of 2:1 as fixed by this Hon’ble Court?
(iv) Whether the valuables kept in sealed boxes can be temporarily
shifted to vault ‘C’ while executing the work, considering the
security and safety of the valuables?
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(v) In view of the inadequacy of secrecy of the data stored in servers
located inside the Temple, and also considering the principles of
disaster management, whether the Expert Committee can store the
data with ISRO without compromising confidentiality and
(vi) Considering the difficulties and uncertainty in preservation of data
in electronic form, whether the Expert Committee can preserve the
data as a hard copy in suitable fireproof lockers outside the Temple
while ensuring confidentiality and security?
(vii) Whether Sri Harikumar (the present Executive Officer) and the 8
others mentioned earlier can continue to be associated with the
inventorisation process despite the directions of the Home
Ministry, Government of Kerala?
(viii) Whether this Hon’ble Court can reiterate its stand to the media
against publishing misleading information?
(ix) Whether this Hon’ble Court may be pleased to direct the
Temple/Palace to provide the Expert Committee with records and
registers of earlier stock taking?
(x) Whether this Hon’ble Court may give suitable direction to the
Temple/Government to implement the security recommendations
within a period of 3 months?
(xi) Whether the time for completing the inventorisation process can be
extended up to August 2013?
60. Thereafter, by an order dated 23
August 2012, this Hon’ble Court
appointed an Amicus Curiae in the matter. The order states as follows:-
“S.L.P. (Civil) No. 11295/2011:
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Having regard to the controversy involved in the matter and
the reports being submitted by the Expert Committee on Sree
Padmanabhaswamy Temple from time to time, we are of the opinion
that an amicus needs to be appointed to assist the Court.
In the course of discussion, the name of Mr. Gopal
Subramaniam, Senior Counsel, cropped up.
All the parties are agreeable that Mr. Gopal Subramaniam,
Senior Counsel, may be appointed as amicus curiae.
We, accordingly, request Mr. Gopal Subramaniam, learned
senior counsel, to act as amicus curiae in the matter.
Let a copy of the special leave petition alongwith affidavits and
documents, interim reports submitted by the Expert Committee from
time to time and the proceedings and order sheets in the matter be
given to Mr. Gopal Subramaniam, learned senior counsel, amicus
curiae, by the Registry within two weeks.
List the matter on September 19, 2012 at 3 p.m.
S.L.P. (Civil) No. 12361/2011; S.L.P. (Civil) Nos. 17081-17082/2011
and Writ Petition (Civil) No. 518/2011:
List these matters along with S.L.P. (Civil) No.11295/2011.”
61. The Amicus Curiae mentioned the matter before this Hon’ble Court in
order to enable him and the junior counsel assisting him to visit
Thiruvananthapuram for an on-the-spot assessment of the activities at
the Temple, including the activities outlined in the reports of the Expert
Committee. Thus, on 17
September 2012, this Hon’ble Court recorded
“At the request of Mr. Gopal Subramanium, learned Amicus Curiae
and not objected to by M/s. B.V. Deepak, Vipin Nair and Liz Mathew,
learned counsel for the parties, list this group of matters on October 9,
2012 at 3 P.M.”
62. Before proceeding to the next part of this report, it would not be out of
place to mention that the Executive Officer had filed an affidavit dated
August 2012 asserting that the control and supervision of the gold,
ornaments, jewels and all other items kept in Kallaras ‘A’ to ‘F’ are, as
per the statute, with his office and that he is the custodian of the keys to
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the locks of the Kallaras within the Temple and also of the boxes
containing invaluable articles and artefacts inside these Kallaras.
63. The Executive Officer further states that he is the only member of the
Expert Committee resident in Thiruvananthapuram and present in the
Sree Padmanabha Swamy Temple on a daily basis to discharge his
duties. According to him, out of the remaining three members of the
Expert Committee, one is a representative of the Archaeological Survey
of India and is a resident of Trichur and the other two members are
residents of Delhi and Jaipur. He further states that the first member
mentioned earlier was present only for 3-4 days during the
inventorisation process between February 2012 and August 2012, while
the other two members were present only for 25-30 days. The Executive
Officer claims that only he could monitor the implementation of the
orders of this Hon’ble Court for preparing the inventory of the items
found in the Kallaras.
64. In the said affidavit, the Executive Officer complains that the
Coordinator of the Expert Committee wrote to the Home Department
(Government of Kerala) for police clearance for him as well as seven of
his assistants who were employees of the Temple. The Executive Officer
has therefore objected to the adverse report of the Home Department
and stated that it was not appropriate for the Coordinator to seek any
such clearance with regard to any member of the Expert Committee
without the leave of this Hon’ble Court.
65. The Executive Officer has further submitted that the statement contained
in Part IV of the Interim Report V of the Expert Committee, that the
Committee had approached His Highness Sri Marthanda Varma on the
issue of security clearance, but that the Committee did not get any
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response from him, is not accurate. He further states that the only
request which was made by the Administrative Officer of the Expert
Committee was as follows:-
“In this connection, I am directed to request Your Highness to take
suitable steps to ensure smooth conduct of the job of the Expert
Committee in the manner envisaged by the Supreme Court.”
66. The Executive Officer further states that he has not been permitted to
exercise his functions by virtue of the fact that he was not given a pass to
enter the work area. He further states, that on most of the days, no
member of the Expert Committee is present throughout the day during
the inventorisation process.
67. According to the Executive Officer, he has held additional charge as
Director of Municipal Administration, Thiruvananthapuram from 2000
and he was substantively appointed to that post in July 2001 until he
retired in October 2001. The Executive Officer further asserts that the
post of Director, Municipal Administration is an IAS cadre post and his
appointment was cleared by the Cabinet and he was appointed with the
concurrence of the UPSC and the Central Government. However, the
Amicus Curiae has not received any confirmation from the State
Government on this issue.
68. In paragraph 12 of his affidavit, the Executive Officer also states that he
would deliver the 18 registers in question regarding past inventories to
the Expert Committee for its use after preparing photocopies of those
registers. It is however stated by the Executive Officer that Justice M.N.
Krishnan had prepared an inventory of the contents of vaults ‘A’, ‘C’,
‘D’, ‘E’ and ‘F’ and that Justice M. N. Krishnan should therefore be
requested to hand over the entire inventory to the Expert Committee.
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The Amicus Curiae has learnt that Justice M. N. Krishnan has kept the
inventory in a bank locker.
69. I.A. No.17 of 2012 in SLP (C) 11295 of 2011 has been filed for the purpose
of enabling the Additional Affidavit dated 23
August 2012 to be taken
70. The Executive Officer has also moved an Interlocutory Application,
namely, I.A. No.16 of 2012 in SLP (C) No. 11295 of 2011 praying for the
(i) that a copy of the inquiry report of the Home Department,
Government of Kerala, which has been submitted to this Hon’ble
Court in a sealed cover, be supplied to the applicant;
(ii) that the present Coordinator of the Overseeing Committee
produce the entire record of the inventory of vaults ‘A’, ‘C’, ‘D’,
‘E’ and ‘F’;
(iii) that the Petitioner be permitted to take photocopies of the
registers adverted to in the Interim Report V prior to their
production before the Expert Committee.
71. An interlocutory application was also filed on 1
October 2012 by the
third Respondent. The applicant, N. Vishwanbaran, one of the party
respondents in Writ Petition (C) No.4256/2010 before the Kerala High
Court. The applicant-third respondent was also one of the plaintiffs in
the earlier mentioned O.S. No.625/2007 instituted before the Principal
Subordinate Judge, Thiruvananthapuram.
In the said application, the third respondent seeks the removal of
Sri V.K. Harikumar as a member of the Expert Committee. The said
application refers to his previous conduct in flouting the orders of the
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Court below, coupled with the fact that the Home Department,
Government of Kerala, had serious reservations about his continuation
given his previous antecedents.
72. In a Counter Affidavit filed by one R. Chandran Kutty (dated 24
September 2011) it is disclosed that a circular was issued by Sri
Marthanda Varma on 2
August 2007 stating that the cellars of the
Temple wherein gold and silver articles were stored would be opened
for taking photographs to prepare an album.
In the said affidavit, it is also pointed out that there should be a
transparent process of identification and valuation of the antique
articles, including an inventory.
II. HISTORY AND TRADITIONS OF THE SREE PADMANABHA SWAMY TEMPLE
1. Before providing his recommendations and suggestions, the Amicus
Curiae believes that a brief narration of the history of the Temple is
necessary to appreciate the recommendations and suggestions.
2. Stella Kramrisch in her famous book ‘The Hindu Temple’ has beautifully
described a temple as follows:
“It is a place for the meeting and marriage of Heaven and Earth where
the whole world is present in terms of measure, and is accessible to
…The Temple is a concrete shape (Murti) of the essence; as such it is
the residence and vesture of God. The masonry is the sheath (kosha)
and body. The Temple is the monument of manifestation. The devotee
who comes to the Temple, to look at it, does so as a ‘seer’, not as a
3. In Hindu philosophy, Advaita Vedanta declares ‘ekameva dwitiya brahman’
which means that only one Supreme Divinity exists. However, there is
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also a process for being able to realize the ultimate Upanishadic Truth.
Saguna Upasana is considered an essential pathway to establish
communion with the Divine. The sages in India have been adept in
teaching devotees both Saguna Upasana, i.e., where God is an object of
worship and the devotee enters into a lifelong relationship with his ‘ishta
devata’ which leads to Nirguna Samadhi.
4. Hindu philosophy is embodied in – (a) the Vedas; (b) the Upanishads,
i.e., the interpretation of the Vedas; (c) the Puranas (d) the Bhagavath
Gita; and (e) the Tantras which are contained in different Puranas. The
rituals and prayogas are contained in the Smritis. It is important to note
that Sree Padmanabha Swamy Temple is mentioned in six Puranas. In
the Varaha Purana, the following shloka finds a place:-
र [यम पदं मम
(Meaning: I reside in the land which lies south of the Malaya mountain
and north of the ocean, which is famed by the name Syanandoora.)
5. A later shloka in the aforesaid scripture says:
“तता°चयर म पव+यािम
सौवणर T°यते पदं
(There has been a belief about the existence of a ‘golden lotus’ in the
Padma Teertham, passed on through oral tradition.)
6. Similarly, the Brahma Purana also refers to the sanctity of ‘Anantasayana
Puram’. In the Brahma Purana, Lord Vishnu is referred to as
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“Syanandoora Purusha” and His domain as “Syanandoorapura”. There is a
legend of the Temple connecting Sree Padmanabha Swamy with a sage
7. In the Temple, Sree Maha Vishnu lies on a coiled serpent in a reclining
pose, in a state of yoga nidra, and his right hand is stretched downwards
for worshipping Lord Shiva. While from his nabhi (navel), a lotus stem
sprouts upwards and in the lotus, Lord Brahma, the Creator, is situated.
The meaning of such an idol and its significance will be explained later.
8. It may also be noted that Anantasayanam is described in the various parts
of Brahma Purana and in the book called Anantasayana Mahatmyam, the
following phrase appears, “madhyamadhwari paschyantam nabhi
pankajamuthamam”. The presence of Lord Narasimha Moorthy is also
mentioned in the following lines:-
“अनंताशयानो अनंतापदानाभो न
केति1मन भाती दे वे श1cवद भी°ठं पदा1यित ”
This shloka describes the names of the Teerthams which have been
related to this Temple for long. This also indicates the name of the
famous Padmanabha Teertham.
9. The Lord has two Devis, namely, the Bhoomi Devi and Lakshmi Devi
and reference to the same is also made:-
“सवर लोका÷यं दे वं ÷ीभ
िम¹यं िनषेिवतं ”
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10. In Padma Purana, Sree Padmanabha Swamy Temple has been
considered to be one of the principal places of Vaishnava pilgrimage.
There is a reference to Anantasayanam along with the references to
Mathura, Thirumala, Sreerangam. It is as follows:
“स कदािचदगाq राजा
यतासौ जगतां नाथो
(Meaning: Once that king went to Anantasayanam where the Lord of the
world was in Yoga Nidra)
11. In the Skanda Purana, again the term ‘Padmanabha’ is mentioned in the
रा पदनाभा°च काशी िव°वे °वरालयः”
12. In Srimad Bhagavatham, it has been stated that Balarama visited
Syanandoorapuri during the time of the Kurukshetra war, where he had
a vision of Lord Vishnu and is believed to have taken bath in
panchapsarassu which is presently known as Padma Theertham (the
Temple tank). In Matsya Purana, there is again a reference to the Sree
Padmanabha Swamy Temple.
13. Moreover, there were great Shaivite and Vaishnavite saints in Tamil
Nadu and the Vaishnavite saints were called Alvars. The composition of
many of these sages in fact dates back to the 1
during the reign of the Chera Kings. In Pathittu Pathu, a Tamil treatise,
there is a reference to Lord Padmanabha in the following stanza:-
“வணட ஊத ெபாலிதார
திர ஞாயமற அகலாத
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கமழ கடடரழயலஙகன ெசலவம”
(Meaning: Resplendent God who is adorned with flower garlands,
surrounded by buzzing bees and who places Maha Lakshmi on the
bosom and who holds the weapon of victory which is the Chakram.)
14. There are similar references to be found even in Chilappathikaram
authored by Ilanko Adigal whose composition presumably dates
between the 4
and the 7
century A.D. In Divya Prabandham,
Kulasekhara Alvar expressly refers to the Sree Padmanabha Swamy
15. In the 9
century A.D., Nammalvar composed various verses which are
called “Thiruvaymozhi”. Nammalvar would sing in ecstasy on the
various facets of Maha Vishnu (alike Chaitanya Mahaprabhu). In the
Divya Prabandham of the Alvar sages, Sree Padmanabha Swamy Temple
is identified as one of the 108 divya-deshams or important places of
pilgrimage for Vaishnava devotees. In one of the verses it is said:-
“ெகடமிட ராயெவலலாம ேகசவா ெவணண நாளம
ெகாடவிைன ெசயயமகறறின தமரகளம கனகிளளஈ
விடமைட யரவிலபளளி விரமபினான கரமபலறறம
தடமைட வயளநத பறநகரப பகதமினேற”
(Meaning: The name of Keshava is sufficient to drive away all troubles.
Even death will not approach a devotee who chants His name. Now
sacred city abounding with lush fields and lakes known as Anandapura,
Sree Narayana Bhagawan reigns with joy as Ananthashayi.)
16. It may also be pointed out that various other pieces of literature, such as
Thiruvananthai Thalavilasam composed in 1847 A.D., refer to the Sree
Padmanabha Swamy Temple. In Thiruvananthai Thalavilasam it is stated
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that ‘[t]hose devotees will have no rebirth who worship Lord Padmanabha
Swamy and his sacred feet.’
17. There is another reference to the Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple in the
works of Sureshwara Acharya, who was the first disciple of Sree Adi
Sankara. Sureshwara Acharya founded the ‘Naduvil Madhom’ at
Trichur, from where the Pushpanjali Swamiyar of the Temple hails. In the
book Samkshepa Shaareerakam the following is said:-
“अिवरालापदापड़िकत पदनाभ1य प
पघतम ÷े यसः ÷ोतसंघात
रसिरिदवा सघो म*ट ”
(Meaning: Let this Bharati (the book Samkshepa Shaareerakam) having
continuity of verse (like the ceaseless flow of the Ganga), possessed of
the pollen of the holy lotus feet of the Sree Padmanabha, the most
auspicious one, wipe off in a trice the dense darkness of ignorance from
the listeners, like the divine Ganga (originating from Sree Padmanabha’s
feet) which washes away the sins of those who immerse themselves in
18. It may also be noted that Vilvamangalathu Divakara Acharya who was
instrumental in re-discovering the Sree Padmanabha Swamy Temple in
century and who was a disciple of Sureshwara Acharya of
Naduvil Madhom in Trichur also produced a work which mentions the
great Lord Padmanabha in the following words:-
शे षयायी िह शोभते ”
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(Meaning: The Lord of Anantapura presents Himself in all effulgence as
Seshasayee or the One who rests on the Serpent).
19. There are other texts which refer to the Sree Padmanabha Swamy
Temple. It is also interesting to note that many great sages have visited
Sree Padmanabha Swamy Temple, including Sri Ramanujacharya (the
propounder of Vishishtha Advaitha), Madhvaacharya, Guru Nanak Dev
and Swami Vivekananda. In addition, Sree Kavirajdas in his biography
of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu records that the great saint visited the Temple
in 1510 A.D. and describes this great Temple as one among the six
Narayana Sthalas where Sree Narayana is ever present in Bharat.
20. It may be pointed out that in the Hindu tradition, every Deity is
assigned various attributes. Sri Maha Vishnu is considered to comprise
all the three elements of existence, knowledge and bliss (sat, chit,
ananda). In Sree Padmanabha Swamy Temple, the entirety of cosmic
drama, from creation to change and the deep oceans of the unconscious
universe, is beautifully depicted.
21. It may be noted that the Deity of Sree Padmanabha Swamy appears to be
placed on a Sree Chakra. The Sree Chakra is a symbol of the highest form
of divinity signifying cosmic unity. The serpent is actually symbolic.
According to certain commentators of Kundalini, tantra-shastra is the
dormant energy which lies within human beings, which when
awakened leads to self-realization. The three coils of the serpent reflect
the ida, pingla and sushumna of Kundalini and when the Kundalini is
aroused, there is a realization of Maha Vishnu as ‘sahasradala padmasta’.
Lord Vishnu is also uniquely connected to both Brahma and Shiva
as well as to Lalitha Parameshwari in the form of Sree Chakra because she
is called ‘Padmanabha Sahodari’. The name ‘Padmanabha’ consists of 5
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matrikas, which are again identified as ‘pa’ for purusha, ‘da’ for jihuva,
‘ma’ for sparsha, ‘na’ for gandham and ‘bha’ for gandharva. These
letters have deeper esoteric meanings.
The state of yoga nidra is where the Deity is supremely conscious
in the highest state of union with the Maha-tattva, His creation, His
devotees and it also signifies the delicate balance which Vishnu as the
preserver maintains to protect the universe and ensures its safety.
22. Very importantly, the name of Sree Padmanabha Swamy is mentioned
thrice in the Vishnu Sahasranama. The dhayana shloka of Maha Vishnu is
जगशयनं पदनाभं स
िव°वाधारं गगनसTशं मे घवणर श
ल+मीका7तं कमलनयनं योिगिभ²यारनग+यम्
ं भवभयहरं सवर लोकै कनाथम् ॥”
The first line means:-
We meditate ("vande") upon the master ("naatham") of the universe
("sarva-lokaika"), Lord Vishnu, who is ever peaceful ("shaanta-
aakaaram"), who lies on the great serpent-bed ("bhujaga-shayanam"),
from whose navel ("nabhi") springs the lotus ("padma") of the creative
power, who is the controller ("eesham") of the Devas ("sura").
The second line means:-
... whose form ("aakaaram") is the entire universe ("vishwa"), and who is
the foundation ("aadhaaram") for the universe, and who is all pervading
("sadrusham") as the sky ("gagana"), of the hue ("varnam") of the cloud
("megha"), of fascinating beauty ("shuba-angam")
The third line means:-
...the Lord ("kaantam") of Laksmi, the lotus ("kamala") eyed
("nayanam"); He who dwells in the hearts ("bhir") of the yogis and who
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can be approached ("gamyam") and perceived through meditation
The fourth line means:-
We pray to ("vande") to Lord Vishnu, he who is the destroyer ("haram")
of the fear ("bhaya") of samsara ("bhava") and the Lord of all ("sarva")
the worlds ("loka").
23. The Vishnu Sahasranama
is a list of 1000 holy names of Lord Vishnu and
is found in Shanthi parva in the Mahabharata. Another version exists in
the Padma Purana and yet another in the Matsya Purana. In the
Mahabharata, Yudhishtra asks Bheeshma:-
“कीमे कं दै वतं लोके िकम वा¯ये कम पारायनम
वं थ कं कमाचार 7दा प¯न
र माँनवा श
को धमर सवर धमारणं भवथ परमो मथाह
िकं जपन म
र ज7म संसार ब7धनातः”
(Meaning: In this universe, who is the one deva of all (i.e., at whose
command all things function or who is God of all)? Who is the one
greatest refuge for all? Who is the one divinity by praising whom and
by worshipping whom, a man attains good? Which according to you is
the highest form of dharma (capable of bestowing salvation and
prosperity in man)? What is that, by uttering or reciting which any
living being can attain freedom from cycle of births and deaths?
Bheeshma answers that by the chanting of Vishnu Sahasranama, which
contains the thousand names of Lord Vishnu, there would be freedom
from sorrow. )
24. There are numerous commentaries on the Vishnu Sahasranama, including
a commentary by Adi Sankaracharya in the 8
century and Parashara
The word ‘sahasra’ means thousand.
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Bhattar in the 12
century. There was a third commentary by
25. Even in the Vedic chants, Vishnu is described as an aspect of Shiva. In
the Vishnu Sahasranama, Vishnu is also referred to as Shiva, Shambu,
Eshaana and Rudra. It may be noted that while Adi Shankaracharya’s
commentary emphasizes the Advaitic nature of the non-dual Brahman in
Vishnu; the commentary of Parashara Bhattar concentrates on the
attributes of the Divine with whom the devotee forms a personal
relationship. In the Vaarahi tantra, it is said that, the shlokas which can
be recited freely in the Kaliyuga are the Bhagawad Gita, Vishnu
Sahasranama and Chandika Saptashati (Durga Saptashati). The first shloka
in the Vishnu Sahasranama is as follows:-
(Meaning: One who is the Cosmic Universe itself and who is all
pervading and one who is the Lord of Past, Future and the Present. He is
the one who is the creator, nurturer, the movable and the immovable.
He is the very soul of Universe.)
26. The first place where the name ‘Padmanabha’ occurs in the Vishnu
Sahasranama is as follows:-
This shloka means Padmanabha is one from whose navel springs the
lotus (Padma) which is the seat of the four faced Creator, Lord Brahma.
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Lotus represents truth and its manifested powers. The creative energy
emanates from the nabhi and manifests in the form of the four faced
Brahma as also the four faced chaturmukha consists of the mind, intellect,
chith and ego (i.e., antahkarana).
In the yoga shastras, it may be noted, that every idea is supposed
to spring from the navel (i.e., from paraa) and then at the navel area each
of them comes to be perceived (pashyanti). Then the thought is in the
mind as madhyama and is expressed as vikari.
27. The second instance where the name Padmanabha is mentioned in the
Vishnu Sahasranama, is in the following shloka:-
It may be noted that the expression Padmanabha is keeping company
with sutahpaa (i.e., one who has glorious tapas) and also prajapati (i.e., the
one who is the Lord of all creation).
28. The third place where the name of Padmanabha occurs in the Vishnu
Sahasranama is in the following shloka:-
It may be noted that Padmanabha here also means the psychic center
where all unmanifest thoughts spring forth into recognition as pashyanti.
The seedless state of all thoughts is paraa which is also the state in yoga
nidra. Aravindaksha means the one who has eyes which are as beautiful
as the petals of a lotus. Padma-garbha means one who is being meditated
upon in the center of the lotus of the heart of devotees (in Hindu
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tradition, the chakras are viewed as various lotus). The Deity sustains
and nourishes all the bodies in the form of ‘anna’ and ‘prana’. The Deity
has great ‘riddhi’ meaning prosperity and power which together
constitute the potency of aishwarya’s unlimited glories. In fact, the term
‘riddha’ can mean that He has expanded himself to be the entire
universe, i.e., the entire cosmos. He is also the ancient self. In other
words, He is eternal self or He is the self before all creation and even
before the creation of time. He is also the great eyed (mahaa-aksha) and
the one who has Garuda as an insignia on His flag.
29. In this context, it may be necessary to mention that the Sree
Padmanabha Swamy Temple is an integral part of the traditions of the
Royal family of the erstwhile State of Travancore and also the people of
Kerala (including the residents of the ancient city of
Thiruvananthapuram). It is interesting to note that Ashwathi Thirunal
Gouri Lakshmi Bayi (one of the members of the Royal family), in her
book Sree Padmanabha Swamy Temple published by the Bharatiya Vidya
Bhavan, interestingly refers to the Prakrit version and the final Sanskrit
version of Sree Anandapuram from Syanandoorapura. The Sree
Padmanabha Swamy Temple is connected to twenty four holy teerthams
and is also linked with certain other temples, many of which are in the
State of Tamil Nadu. It may be noted that even today, Mathilakom
records or the palm leave scrolls which recorded the ancient history of
the Temple and that of the erstwhile State of Travancore are available in
the Temple premises and in the Kerala State Archives.
30. It must also be noted that the idol of Lord Padmanabha is made using
katu sharkara yogam (a complex mixture of 8 natural ingredients) in which
12008 Salagramas were filled in. This idol made using katu sharkara
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yogam was consecrated in the year 1739 under the aegis of the erstwhile
ruler of Travancore, Veera Marthanda Varma (1706-1758). Salagrama is
not a mere stone but a stone of longstanding tradition and spiritual
potency in which it is believed that Hari or Lord Vishnu resides (hence,
yathaa salagrameh hari). Thus, Eashwara or God manifests Himself in
saguna forms in various ways – in the Salagrama as Vishnu, in the
lingam as Shiva and in the chakra as Devi (Mother Goddess). Usually,
when 12 salagrama shilas are worshipped, it equals the potency of a maha-
kshetram or a great temple. Therefore, the sanctity of Sree Padmanabha
Swamy Temple is a thousand fold.
31. The main Deity or ‘Moola Vigraha’ is 18 feet long and the colour of ‘kattu-
sarkara-yogam’ is black. No abhishekam is performed on the main Deity
because it may alter the surface of the vigraha while prokshanam or tantric
purification is done and flowers are also offered along with vastram or
clothes which are laid on the Deity. The old flowers are dusted off by
using peacock feathers. The Shiva linga which is fashioned out of saiva
salagrama shila is found beneath the right hand of the Lord.
32. There are three doors in the shrine – the first door, from where the head
and hands of the Deity can be seen, the middle door, from where the
nabhi or navel can be seen and the third door which reveals the feet of
the Deity. In the middle portion of the shrine, three abhisheka murthies
which are made of pure gold are consecrated and they are of Sree
Padmanabha Swamy with Bhoomi Devi and Lakshmi Devi on either
side and also a smaller idol in silver which is Sree Padmanabha Swamy
in a sitting posture. These Deities are worshipped ritualistically on a
daily basis. This includes the performance of abhishekam through proper
mudras and offering purified food or Naivedyam.
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33. It may also be pointed out that there are other Deities in the Temple such
as Sree Krishna (whose shrine in the Temple enjoys position of a
separate temple), Sree Agrashala Ganapathy, Sree Rama, Lakshmana,
Sita and Sree Anjaneya, Sree Narasimha Murthy, Sree Dharmashasta,
Sree Vishvaksena as well as Sree Kshetra-paala (the guardian Deity of
the Temple). It may be noted that pooja is also offered to these Deities
and the Deity Anjaneya is anointed with unsalted pure butter daily,
while Garuda is occasionaly bathed in gingely oil. These two Deities are
found next to the flag staff or dhwaja-stambha of the Temple, facing the
main Deity. The Sree Krishna Temple which was mentioned earlier is
known as Thiruvampadi Sree Krishna Temple.
34. At this juncture, it would be appropriate to mention that the Travancore
Royal family is also called the Venadu Raja Vamsha which is the off-
shoot of Chera royal lineage and the Ayi royal dynasty, and has always
regarded Lord Padmanabha Swamy as their tutelory Deity and this is
confirmed by many historical records where Lord Padmanabha is
addressed as ‘yadavendrakuladaivatam’ or the family Deity of yadava-
kshatriyas (the present Travancore royalty); thereby confirming that Sree
Padmanabha Swamy is the ‘kuladaivta’ of the entire family. It may be
noted that devotees other than royalty have worshipped Lord
Padmanabha Swamy as their ‘ishta daivta’ or God of one’s personal
35. It was in 1731 A.D. that the first King of the erstwhile Travancore Royal
family, Sree Veera Marthanda Varma, was anointed. He was succeeded
by Rama Varma (1758-1798). Moreover, the Royal family consisted of
deeply devoted members who were dedicated to the Temple and who
believed that their lives centred around Sree Padmanabha Swamy. In
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1750 A.D., the entire State of Travancore was gifted to this Deity by a
Deed and the Rulers became servants of the Lord, calling themselves as
Padmanabhadasa. It may also be noted that many of the Maharajas were
great composers of shlokas as well as music. In fact, many of the Rulers
were protectors of the Vedas and the vedic tradition. Further, the
Temple was governed by a council of trustees called Ettara Yogam
headed by the King.
36. One of the greatest Kings of the Royal family was Sri Swathi Thirunal
Maharaja Rama Varma (1813-1846) who was a great patron of the arts,
literature, music and modern science. He was an extraordinary King
who presented an incorruptible system of governance, framed the first
code of regulations of Travancore, advanced English education,
contributed to a collection of rare manuscripts and undertook a large
number of social welfare measures. In fact, Sri Swathi Thirunal is
regarded as one of the four great vidwans of Carnatic music – they being
Muthuswamy Dikshitar, Thyagaraja, Shyamasastry and Swati Thirunal.
The Kings including Sri Swathi Thirunal donated their personal wealth
to the Temple and, as recorded by Dr. Venkata Subramanya Iyer in his
brilliant book ‘Swathi Thirunal and his music’, during his eventful life,
once when one of his courtesans presented a varnam in his honour, the
King directed that it should not be used because only Lord Padmanabha
Swamy must be lauded with music.
37. During Sri Swathi Thirunal’s time, some of the pujas were found to be
faulty. He adopted remedial measures. He instituted another
‘Abhishekam’ for the Lord and also prepared Naivedyam of ambalapuzha
pal payasam. He ensured the rendering of the Vishnu Puranam and
Syanandoorapura Varnaprabhandam on a daily basis, singing of Bhaja
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Govindam by a specially constituted group, and introduced the minting
of gold coins as a symbol of sovereignty. Sri Swathi Thirunal’s music
compositions are outstanding and the Amicus Curiae submits that the
extraordinary literature which is available in respect of the compositions
of Swathi Thirunal, Thyagaraja, Muthuswamy Dikshitar and others who
have composed music on the Sree Padmanabha Swamy Temple also
need to be compiled.
38. In the submission of the Amicus Curiae, this Temple is one of the most
ancient temples of Maha Vishnu and is priceless. The Amicus Curiae
however noticed that urgent measures are required for the protection,
preservation as well as the proper and effective management of the
Temple. Thus, it may be added that the spirit underlying the judgment
of the Kerala High Court as well as the various interim orders passed by
this Hon’ble Court is to preserve, protect and manage the Temple along
with inventorying all the treasures which are contained in the Temple.
39. The Amicus Curiae noted that the various Kallaras or vaults are an
integral part of the Temple structure itself. In order to show the same,
the Amicus Curiae is annexing a copy of a plan which indicates where
Sree Padmanabha Swamy in the Sreekovil (sanctum) is residing and there
is a mandapam outside and by the side of Narasimha Murthy is Kallara ‘A’
adjoined by Kallara ‘B’. While Kallaras ‘C’ and ‘D’ are on the other side
of the Sreekovil. Kallaras ‘E’ and ‘F’ are close to the sanctum. The said
map/plan is annexed to this report and marked as Annexure B.
40. The treasures which are contained in these Kallaras are the continued
offerings of the Royal family including the offerings of other devotees. It
may also be noted that the priceless jewels are intended for alankara of
the Lord, gold ornaments, gold utensils and many priceless treasures are
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also to be found in these Kallaras, including priceless gems and coins.
Thus, there can hardly be any doubt that all the treasures of the Temple
belong to the Temple Deity, i.e., to Sree Padmanabha Swamy and
nobody can claim otherwise (in fact, in the temples of South India, it is
customary for people to offer various ornaments of gold and silver in
temples which are then kept separately in those temples). No person
must be allowed to take the riches of the Temple outside for any
extraneous purpose. The Amicus Curiae is of the opinion that considering
the stand of the State of Kerala as reflected in its written statement filed
in O.S. No.625 of 2007 before the Civil Court in Thiruvananthapuram
and the interaction which the Amicus Curiae had with the Chief Minister,
it is clear that the State would not do anything by which any of the
treasures of the Temple are utilized for any extraneous purpose or for
any purpose unconnected with the Deity/Temple.
41. Besides, under Hindu law as well as according to the Hindu tradition,
the Deity is supposed to have chaitanya and prana. In other words, it is a
live entity capable of owning and possessing property. It is clear that the
‘Agamic’ code for this Temple is contained in the ‘kriya saara eshaana-
shiva-gurudeva padhdhati’. There are only ten temples in the world which
are under this padhdhati and the Sree Padmanabha Swamy Temple is one
42. The Tantris are supposed to be initiated in this tradition and have to be
initiated in the moola mantra of the Temple and should perform poojas
strictly in accordance with the traditions of the Temple. The Amicus
Curiae also met the chief Tantri, i.e., Tharananalloor Parameshwaran
Nambuthirippadu who is a Sanskrit Professor and undoubtedly a man
of great learning. His younger brother, Tharananalloor Satish
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Nambuthirippadu, is also considered to be an outstanding scholar and
thus it is necessary that the Tantris as an institution must be recognized
and given adequate respect for the purpose of effectively conducting the
poojas and anushthanas which are required for the Lord Padmanabha
Swamy. For the purpose of conducting such pujas, it is necessary that
acharam, i.e., observances, must be properly maintained for the purpose
of preparation of prasadam. There must be proper vadhya gosha (waking
up the Lord with nadaswaram music), suprabhatam chanting, and also
vedha japa at the time of abhishekam and it is necessary that at regular
intervals, there must also be the recitation of Sree Vishnu Sahasranamam,
the rendition of Bhagavatham, the chanting of the Maha Mantra as well as
the rendition of the compositions on Lord Padmanabha Swamy which
have been composed by great composers such as Sri Swathi Thirunal.
43. The Lord is also alankarapriya and it is necessary that the Deity must be
given the best possible alankaram for the purpose of offering traditional
worship and it must be ensured that the various ornaments which
belong to the Lord are used for the purpose of adorning the Deity. It is
clear from the discussions that the Amicus Curiae had with various
academics, including historians like Dr. M. Velayudhan Nair, Dr. T.P.
Sankarankutty Nair and Dr. M.G. Sashibhooshan, that the preservation
of the Sree Padmanabha Swamy Temple and its restoration are equally
vital and must not be viewed as being any less important than the
inventorying of the precious treasures in its vaults. It may also be
clarified that the Royal family does not want anything from the Temple’s
riches for itself. Consistent with tradition, the relationship of the Royal
family with the Temple is unique because for them Lord Padmanabha
Swamy and the Temple is their ‘life force’. While certain errors on
account of miscommunication or incorrect presentation before the
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members of the Royal family may have led to certain problems, in the
light of the interim stay of directions granted by this Hon’ble Court, it is
necessary that the Royal family is associated with the administration of
the Temple in order to ensure that the Temple is restored at the earliest.
In fact, His Highness Sri Marthanda Varma of the erstwhile State of
Travancore visits the Temple daily even at the grand old age of 90.
44. Thus, it is clear to the Amicus Curiae that various positive steps need to
be taken to protect and preserve the Temple. It is also relevant to note
that many residents continue to live in Thiruvananthapuram because of
their devotion to Lord Padmanabha Swamy and they have an emotional
relationship with the Deity. The Amicus Curiae met many people living
near the Temple and it was clear to him that the choice of living in
Thiruvananthapuram is substantiated by their proximity to the Temple
and the convenience to visit Sree Padmanabha Swamy’s shrine as many
times as possible.
45. The Royal family is also held in high repute especially by the members
of the general public and the State Government. In order to give effect
to the interim directions of this Hon’ble Court, His Highness Sri
Marthanda Varma appointed Sri Adithya Varma as his representative.
The Amicus Curiae had detailed interactions with Sri Adithya Varma and
it is clear that he is conscious of the traditions of the Royal family and
that of the Temple. He also happens to be the son of Princess Ashwathi
Thirunal Gouri Lakshmi Bayi who is an embodiment of knowledge
about the history of the Temple and for whom the Temple is her life’s
mainstay. In addition, it must be said that Sri Marthanda Varma has
written poetry on Lord Padmanabha Swamy and he is also a Sanskrit
scholar. He spoke to the Amicus Curiae in Sanskrit and the Amicus Curiae
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was pleasantly surprised to read his translation of the Sree Vishnu
Sahasranama which shows that the translation is based upon a
simultaneous understanding of both Adi Shankaracharya’s and
Parashara Bhattar’s bhashaya on the Vishnu Sahasranama.
The Amicus Curiae has also come to know that Sri Marthanda
Varma has recently completed a translation of the Sreemad Bhagawad Gita
which is to be published soon. It may be added that another member of
the Royal family, Sri Rama Varma, is trained in Carnatic music and is
also familiar with the kritis of Sri Swathi Thirunal. He is also one of the
direct descendants of Sri Swathi Thirunal. In addition, Sri Rama Varma,
one of the Petitioners, is also anxious about the Temple.
46. As far as the pooja tradition or the ‘padhadhatis’ (kriya saara) of the temple
is concerned, the same is followed by the chief Tantri, and in case of
doubt he can refer to the grantham (the ancient treatise kept in the
Tharananallore household). Before performing important Temple
ceremonies like kalasham for the Deities, Thirumudi kalasham (investing
spiritual powers in the seniormost member of the Royal family before he
takes charge as the chief custodian of the Temple) and Tantrams during
the two festivals (Alpashi and Painguni), he should take the consent or
anujna from the Pushpanjali Swamiyaar
47. While ritualistic worship is being undertaken at the Sree Padmanabha
Swamy Temple, the Amicus Curiae is of the opinion that considering the
size of the idol, its grandeur, the resources which are available, the
history of the Temple, and the magnificent presence of the Divinity, all
efforts must be made to increase the alankaram, upacharam and pooja
The Amicus Curiae had darshan of the Pushpanjali Swamiyar and the Swamiji was willing to offer
all possible assistance and suggestions in the event the Tantri approached him.
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subject to the Tantris examining what further poojas can be performed
for the Deity.
It may be noted that Tharananalloor Parameshwaram
Nambuthirippadu described the Lord as ‘alankarapriya’ and readily
agreed with the suggestion of the Amicus Curiae that all precious
ornaments, including gold chains which are 18 feet long should be used
for the purpose of alankara of the Deity. Thus, the Amicus Curiae is of the
opinion that without departing from any of the padhadhatis which are
special to the puja, the Tantris can devise such additional upachara as is
permissible for enhanced worship at the Temple including the rendition
of Veda mantras, i.e., purushasukta, sreesukta and bhagyasukta, the
rendition of suprabhatam, vadyagosham in the morning, rendition of
Vishnu Sahasranamam throughout the day and also the rendition of the
musical works and kirtanas in praise of Lord Padmanabha Swamy.
48. Contrary to a mistaken belief that there exists a division between
Shaivism and Vaishnavism, the Hindu tradition allows a seeker to
choose his own pathway for self-actualisation and realization. A seeker
can seek it through yoga, i.e., union with a divine or can seek it through
bhakti or immersion with the divine and through dhyana or meditation
upon the transcendental self. The sadhaka can also undertake such
activities without any desire so that the activities liberate him from
bondage. It may be noted that in the Hindu tradition, while Advaita
philosophy believes in the non-dual nature of the supreme nature of
Brahman, in order to reach that stage, it is necessary to have saguna
upasana, i.e., the worship of a Deity for the purpose of prayers,
communication and for a continued human existence. It may be noted
that in a temple, Agamas form the basis of establishing the ritualistic
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worship, because the vedic sacrifices could no longer take place and
therefore according to the Agamic shastras, temples were established.
49. Maha Vishnu is known in all parts of India ranging from Badrinath as
Badrinarayana, right upto Thiruvananthapuram as Padmanabha. He is
also Jagannatha in Puri and is Achyuta in Dwaraka. In Mathura, He is
Bankebehari and in Natha-dwara, He is Sreenatha. Thus, the Vaishnavite
tradition has very strong cultural basis in India. It may be added that in
temples of South India, there is a fusion which takes place between the
Shaivite and the Vaishnavite traditions. In other words, Lord
Ganapathy, Lord Dandayudapani, Lord Narasimha and various other
Deities are seen in a temple which also belongs to Lord Vishnu or Lord
Narasimha. In certain places, Lord Narasimha is even seated on a Sree
Chakra. It is believed that in the Mannargudi Temple of
Rajagopalaswamy, the Rajagopalaswamy is actually standing on the Sree
Yantra, and therefore, He is referred to as Sree Vidya Rajagopalaswamy.
In view of the fact that Lord Padmanabha Swamy is lying on the serpent
which in turn appears to be on a Sree Yantra, the Tantris need to examine
whether a ‘pratinidhi’ (or representative) of the Sree Yantra needs also to
be placed for external worship in front of the utsava murti. This is a
matter which has to be decided by the Tantris according to the tradition
after following suitable rituals. Clearly, the presence of the Sree Chakra is
evident from the ceiling of the Temple under which Anjaneya is standing
and also there being a framed painting of the Sree Chakra on the back
wall of the Thiruvampadi Sree Krishna Temple.
There is a fusion of both Shaivite and Vaishnavite beliefs in the
Sree Padmanabha Swamy Temple because Shiva is also seen along with
Vishnu, and the reclining Deity has ‘vilva’ leaves in his hand which
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signify his relationship with Lord Shiva. A temple where Brahma,
Vishnu, Shiva as well as the doyen of all creation which is Tripurasundari
in the form of a Sree Chakra are all combined must not be underestimated
and its precious heritage should not be ignored. Consequently, in order
to reinforce the pooja paddathi and to ensure that alankara,vadhya gosha,
veda japa as well as rendition of music and kirtana are undertaken for
such a powerful Deity, it is necessary that certain directions may be
given by this Hon’ble Court in this regard.
III. RECOMMENDATIONS OF THE AMICUS CURIAE
1. The Amicus Curiae noticed the careful manner in which the
archaeologists, the gemologists and those who were being overseen by
Dr. M. Velayudhan Nair were touching the jewellery, examining it,
photographing it and storing data in a computer. The entire process
showed immaculate and dedicated effort on the part of the team which
works with the most modern equipment. This shows that a highly
methodical, internationally acceptable form of inventorying work is
being undertaken for the precious artefacts. Each one of the members of
the team working under Dr. M. Velayudhan Nair is therefore entitled to
high praise. (In fact, the Amicus Curiae was surprised to note that every
one of them was a devotee and that they all work standing for 6-8 hours
a day without a whisper from any one of them to distract either the
divine presence in the Temple or those connected with the daily poojas
and rituals of the Temple.)
2. Dr. M. Velayudhan Nair, Professor and Head, Department of
Conservation, National Museum Institute, National Museum, Janpath,
New Delhi, has himself rendered sterling assistance to the Amicus Curiae.
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Dr. M. Velayudhan Nair is a scholar, humble and unassuming and has
brought to bear his best possible resources in inventorying the important
treasures and offerings made in the Temple.
3. The Amicus Curiae also had the opportunity to visit Kallaras ‘A’,’C’, ‘D’,
‘E’ and ‘F’ in the Temple. The Kallaras are a part of the Temple and
since the ornaments have been kept inside the Kallaras, the Amicus
Curiae is of the considered opinion that none of these ornaments or
treasures should be taken outside the Temple. For the purpose of
ensuring that these ornaments and offerings are put to proper and
correct use, they can be divided into three categories –
(a) All such ornaments which can be used for alankara and pooja,
including utensils, deepams as well as other pathrams. (In
accordance with the Tantris’ directions, they can be regularly
(b) Those jewels and artefacts which are damaged and need to be
repaired or which need to be polished or restored, can be
separately identified and restoration work can be undertaken
under the supervision of an Expert Restoration and Conservation
(c) Non-essential objects which may be of interest to the devotees
who come to the Temple can be identified and, if necessary, can be
placed in the Temple in a way so that the devotees are able to see
those items. It may be added that it is not the tradition of the
temples in South India that the personal riches of the Lord or the
Deity be put on public display. It is only when the Deity has to be
dressed and adorned that they are used. This, however, does not
mean that there should not be safe keeping of the jewellery or
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proper accounting and transparency in the matter of maintaining
the riches of the Sree Padmanabha Swamy Temple.
4. Moreover, in order to do justice to the outstanding inventory work being
performed by Dr. M.V. Nair’s team, as also the unique history and
heritage of the Sree Padmanabha Swamy Temple, the Amicus Curiae
humbly puts forth the following recommendations and suggestions:-
A. Submission of future interim reports
5. The Amicus Curiae suggests that, in future, all the reports of the
Overseeing/Expert Committee may be signed by the Coordinator of the
Overseeing Committee, even though the reports are prepared as a result
of joint deliberations between the Expert Committee and the Overseeing
Committee. It should be ensured that copies of the report are made
available to all the members of the two Committees and that they have
expressed their consent to the contents of the recommendations therein.
B. Strengthening of vaults
6. As mentioned earlier in this report, the Expert Committee has submitted
that vault A (which holds most of the valuable items) is the safest of all
the opened vaults in the Temple, and priority needs to be given for
strengthening that vault. The Expert Committee has accepted the
decision of an Expert Group to select M/s Godrej as the implementing
agency for vault strengthening considering the competency and
reputation of that firm in this field. The Amicus Curiae also met Sri T.
Saboo of ISRO and it is evident that vault A needs to be strengthened in
an appropriate manner. In fact, the Amicus Curiae is of the opinion that
all the vaults, except vault B (there are certain considerations which may
have to be addressed before vault B is opened), need to be strengthened
and efforts may be made by the Expert Committee to strengthen all the
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vaults. However, the Expert Committee can begin by strengthening
vault A and can also shift the valuables in vault A to vault C during the
strengthening process and thereafter restore them to vault A. After the
strengthening of vault A is complete, vault C can be strengthened and
efforts can simultaneously be made to strengthen vaults D, E and F.
However, since vaults E and F contain ornaments for daily use, the
strengthening process should be undertaken in consultation with the
Nambis. The same process of consultation may also have to be followed
in the case of strengthening vault D because some of the ornaments
stored in that vault are used for the purposes of pooja.
7. In respect of certain items in vaults D, E, and F the Amicus Curiae
believes that while the Tantris are justified that the pathram, i.e., the
utensils as well as the ornaments which are being used for the purpose
of worship should not be touched by others for inventorying, the
inventorisation of such items should perhaps be done by the Tantris
themselves. It is submitted that Dr. M. Velayudhan Nair as well as Sri
Adithya Varma, along with others, may discuss this issue with the
Tantris and give them suitable training for the purpose of undertaking
the inventory work for a limited number of items.
C. Storage of inventory data
8. In so far as the storage of data from inventorisation and retrieval of the
same is concerned, the suggestion of the Expert Committee that a vault
must be hired in the State Bank of India or State Bank of Travancore to
store the hard disc of the backup and that Sri Adithya Varma, nominee
of His Highness Sri Marthanda Varma and Sri C. Karthikeyan Nair, the
present Administrative Officer of the Expert Committee, should be
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authorized to jointly operate the same, appears to be correct. It is
therefore, submitted that the said resolution may be approved.
9. However, in order to ensure that one additional hard disc is available for
backup, the Amicus Curiae suggests that the same may be kept in the safe
custody of the Director, Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore. At the
same time, the concern of His Highness Sri Marthanda Varma that
nothing should go out of the Temple lest the same would receive undue
publicity, can be suitably addressed by making sure that both these hard
discs are kept in lockers – one in State Bank of India and the other in the
Indian Institute of Science.
10. As far as storing the hard copy is concerned, the same may be kept in a
Godrej storewell, in a room to be identified within the Temple premises
which can then be guarded by the Kerala Police. The lock of the
storewell may be sealed and the key can be kept in the custody of Justice
M. N. Krishnan, the Coordinator of the Overseeing Committee.
11. The Amicus Curiae submits that the levels of confidentiality being
maintained by the inventorying team are exemplary and there is no
reason to doubt that any information is being made available to anyone
outside. The present standards should be maintained until the
completion of the task.
D. Adverse reports by the Home Department of the Government of Kerala
12. So far as the report of the Home Department, Government of Kerala is
concerned, it is suggested that the eight persons regarding whom there
are adverse observations should not be permitted to enter the work area
though they may continue to discharge their duties elsewhere in the
Temple premises. As far as Sri Harikumar, the present Executive Officer
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of the Temple, is concerned certain suggestions have been made in the
13. Sri Harikumar was appointed as an Executive Officer by His Highness
Sri Marthanda Varma. The Executive Officer appears to have previous
background of administrative work in the Government of Kerala. While
it is clear that the Expert Committee never intended to offend Sri
Harikumar by requiring a security pass in his name, the State
Government appears to have reported negatively about his antecedents.
Sri Harikumar is of course justified in asserting that his reputation or
character should not be besmirched because of such an enquiry, but it is
clear that the Expert Committee did not instruct, advise or partake in
any negative role to besmirch Sri Harikumar’s reputation or character.
As submitted earlier, the Expert Committee only wanted a formal
clearance from the State Government from the standpoint of security,
which was consistent with the orders passed by this Hon’ble Court on
14. It may be stated in fairness to Sri Harikumar that he came across as a
calm and quiet person. However, the following paragraphs in the
affidavit filed by Sri Harikumar could have been better worded in the
Amicus Curiae’s opinion:-
“12. The temple had produced all the registers in its possession, many
of them being incomplete before the Hon'ble High Court, which is
mentioned in the Annexure P9 to the SLP Paper Book (Vol.I). We
would deliver the entirety of the 18 registers to the Expert Committee,
for its use, after preparing photocopies of the entirety of the register.
13. In this respect, it may be mentioned that Justice M.N Krishnan,
had prepared an entire inventory of Vaults A, C, D, E and F. It is
therefore, submitted that Justice M.N Krishnan may be directed to
deliver the entire inventory, so prepared, to the Expert Committee.”
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15. The Amicus Curiae submits that the 18 registers, which are referred to in
paragraph 12 of the aforementioned affidavit, should be handed over to
Justice M. N. Krishnan forthwith. The Executive Officer may be
permitted to make photocopies of the said 18 registers under the
supervision of Justice M. N. Krishnan. Justice M. N. Krishnan may
thereafter be requested to keep the originals in a bank locker for
safekeeping, with one set of the photocopies being provided to the
16. The Amicus Curiae further submits that if there are any other previous
records of stock taking (apart from the 18 registers referred to by Sri
Harikumar), the same should also be compiled and be made available to
the Expert Committee.
E. Restraint on the media
17. There have been reports in the newspapers about the conduct of the
Expert Committee, the Royal family of erstwhile Travancore and the
officers of the State Government. The attempts made to tarnish the
image of the Expert Committee are not warranted. The Expert
Committee has been diligently and efficiently functioning and
performing the task assigned to it by this Hon’ble Court. The Members
and the Coordinator of the Committee have been carefully chosen by
this Hon’ble Court and no one should be permitted to belittle the work
done by the Committee. However, considering the facts pleaded by Sri
Harikumar, one member of the Overseeing or Expert Committees, apart
from Sri Harikumar, should be constantly present during the
18. The Amicus Curiae therefore recommends that the media should be
directed to exercise restraint and no report should be published which
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may cause misunderstanding between the parties to the litigation or
amongst the members of the public. The Amicus Curiae has held
meetings with the parties to the litigation and all agree that the interests
of the Temple and the Deity are paramount.
F. Suggested steps for effective Temple Administration
19. The Amicus Curiae is of the view that the day-to-day management of the
Temple needs some dynamic interface which would:
(i) Ensure effective communication;
(ii) Ensure greater convenience to the devotees;
(iii) Ensure that padhdhati is being strictly followed;
(iv) Obviate any lack of understanding; and
(v) Overcome any misrepresentation to the members of the Royal
family about the work being undertaken inside the Temple.
20. In order to do so, and without commenting on Sri Harikumar’s
candidature, this Hon’ble Court may consider appointing a Chief
Executive Officer. Sri Adithya Varma, the representative of His
Highness Sri Marthanda Varma in the Overseeing Committee, is most
suited for this role because he visits the Temple daily, besides having an
intimate connection with the Temple. The Chief Executive Officer will
act in consultation with, and on the advice of, the Tantris and His
Highness Sri Marthanda Varma.
21. It is also important to secure the services of dynamic youngsters who are
familiar with the Sree Padmanabha Swamy Temple, who are devotees
and who also have impeccable modern technical qualifications to
undertake the task of assisting in the management of the Temple as part
of their service and devotion to Lord Padmanabha Swamy. After having
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made detailed enquiries, the Amicus Curiae recommends the name of Sri
Gautham Padmanabhan as the (joint) Executive Officer, along with Sri
Harikumar who is currently the sole Executive Officer. Sri Gautham
Padmanabhan is the son of Dr. Sashibhooshan, an eminent historian
from Kerala. Sri Gautham Padmanabhan holds an MBA degree and also
happens to be intimately connected with the publications of the Royal
family. The Amicus Curiae recommends such an additional Executive
Officer – under the overall authority of the Chief Executive Officer –
considering the complexity of the work at hand which demands the
services of more than one individual to effectively manage the Temple.
22. The Amicus Curiae also suggests the inclusion of Sri C. Karthikeyan Nair,
who is presently the Administrative Officer of the Expert Committee, as
Member-Secretary of the Expert Committee so that he may have a more
proactive and effective role in the functioning of the Committee. This
would be particularly beneficial to the Expert Committee since Sri C.
Karthikeyan Nair is a resident of Thiruvananthapuram and can
therefore be available more regularly to discharge the duties of the
Expert Committee. Moreover, since Sri C. Karthikeyan Nair has been a
former revenue service officer, he may also supervise the auditing of the
accounts of the Temple (kindly see topic ‘K’ below).
G. Implementation of security measures
23. The Amicus Curiae places on record his appreciation for the security
which is now being provided by the State Police. There are plain clothes
men who are dressed in dhoti according to Temple traditions, yet
armed, to protect the Temple.
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However, some of the devotees have suggested that the security
personnel need sensitization and training for such a specialized
24. Sri Putta Vimaladitya, DCP (L & O), also requested that some
arrangements be made for the permanent accommodation of the police
personnel. This too should be looked into by the Temple
25. As far as access control is concerned, it is recommended that the security
member, Sri Vikas Verma, along with the Director General of Police,
study all the areas surrounding the Temple before suggesting whether
any adjoining areas need to be sanitized.
26. As far as enhancement of security is concerned, the State Government
should be asked to implement the various recommendations contained
in Annexure 6 of the Expert Committee’s Interim Report V within a
period of 5 months from the acceptance of the Amicus Curiae’s report by
this Hon’ble Court.
27. The Amicus Curiae also submits that, as already recorded, the Royal
family of erstwhile Travancore has no desire to appropriate any treasure
of the Temple. On the contrary, the family has substantially contributed
to the Temple and hence the degree of anguish being experienced by the
Royal family on the suggestion of any malfeasance or taking away of the
property of the Temple is understandable. At the same time, it is
necessary that this Temple and its riches must be preserved because
temple treasures today are the object of considerable interest all over the
world. Hence, it is necessary that adequate security must be deployed in
and around the Temple so that no one can actually attempt any theft of
any of the precious ornaments.
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H. Extension of time for inventorisation
28. The Amicus Curiae has reviewed the inventorying work being conducted
by the Expert Committee. It is recommended that the extended time
frame requested by the Expert Committee may be sanctioned without
I. Recommendations on Temple renovation and restoration
29. The Amicus Curiae has held detailed discussions with Dr. M. Velayudhan
Nair and the Overseeing/Expert Committee. From these discussions, it
is clear that the Temple is in urgent need of renovation and restoration
of its priceless architecture, including the murals and the work done by
the sthapathis at the top of the Gopuram. It is therefore necessary that an
Expert Group for restoration and renovation headed by Dr. M.
Velayudhan Nair immediately undertakes this task. Dr. M. Velayudhan
Nair may be supported by eminent historians such as Dr. M.G.
Sashibhooshan. It may be clarified that the restoration/renovation work
described in this paragraph is distinct from the restoration/renovation
work with respect to the Temple idols which is mentioned in the
supplementary recommendations later in this report.
J. Compiling the Temple’s traditions
30. The Amicus Curiae believes that the invaluable historical records and
padhdhati of the Temple must be compiled and its archaeological history
documented. This will have a bearing upon the traditions of the Temple.
The Amicus Curiae was introduced by Dr. M. Velayudhan Nair to a large
number of eminent historians who are deeply attached to the Temple.
Those historians have gladly offered their services as part of an Expert
Group which will study the historical material and compile all the
archaeologically relevant data which currently lies scattered in the
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Temple archives. The Amicus Curiae recommends that Dr. M.G.S.
Narayanan, Director General, Centre for Heritage Studies, and former
Chairman, ICHR, New Delhi, may be appointed as the Chairman of this
Expert Group, which should also plan to bring out a world-class
publication on the Sree Padmanabha Swamy Temple and the great
heritage of the people of Kerala at the end of its assignment. In addition
to Dr. M.G.S. Narayanan, the Expert Group will also enlist the services
of such eminent historians and academics as Dr. R.C. Misro from
Bhubaneswar; Dr. T.P. Sankarankutty Nair; Dr. M.G. Sashibhooshan; Dr.
N.P. Unni; Dr. V.S. Sharma; Dr. S. Padmanabhan; Dr. Leela Omchery;
Smt. Nandini Ramani; Dr. R.P. Raja; Princess Ashwathi Thirunal; Sri
M.S. Gopalakrishnan; and V. Chithra Devi.
31. In addition, the Amicus Curiae has suggested that all the musical
renditions for Lord Padmanabha Swamy, on which abundant literature
exists in the works of Muthuswamy Dikshitar, Thyagaraja, Swathi
Thirunal, Shyamasastry and other composers, need to be compiled. The
Amicus Curiae has suggested that the services of various eminent
Carnatic musicians such as Nithyasree Mahadevan, Trichur
Ramachandran, Aruna Sairam, Pappu Venugopala Rao, Vijay Shiva,
Abhishek Raghuram, Prince Rama Varma, Parashala Ponnammal and
Sudha Raghunathan may be enlisted for this project. Dr. M.G.S.
Narayanan may be appointed the Chairman of the Expert Group on
musical renditions and Dr. M. Velayudhan Nair may be appointed the
K. Audit of Temple accounts and sources of funding
32. The Amicus Curiae submits that in order to ensure complete transparency
in the accounts of the Temple, the monies received by the Temple,
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including the daily collections, should be subject to a systematic and
transparent audit. To this end, it may be appropriate to appoint Sri S.
Gopalakrishnan (of M/s Srinivasa & Krishna, chartered accountants) as
the auditor of the Temple accounts. The auditor will assist the Chief
Executive Officer (who, as mentioned earlier, will be supported by two
Executive Officers) by regularly placing the Temple accounts before him
for review and further scrutiny.
33. The Amicus Curiae also believes that the Chief Executive Officer (and the
two Executive Officers) should first endeavour to raise funds for the
work relating to the Temple, particularly work relating to the
strengthening of the Temple vaults and renovation of the Temple
structure, with equal participation from the State Government and the
Temple Administration. In case of any difficulty in raising funds for
these purposes, the Chief Executive Officer can approach the Amicus
Curiae for appropriate directions from this Hon’ble Court.
34. The Amicus Curiae suggests that the Temple may also raise funds for the
above-mentioned renovation works through donations from devotees.
The Amicus Curiae is given to understand that a large number of
devotees of Lord Padmanabha Swamy would be willing to make
contributions for the purpose of restoring the Temple. It is important to
explore such alternate funding arrangements given that the State
Government must not be constantly overburdened with requests to
refurbish temples, especially those that are of unique heritage and
vintage. As far as possible, the Temple must be self-sustaining.
Donations can of course be received in a separate account which will be
audited by Sri S. Gopalakrishnan, chartered accountant.
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35. The Amicus Curiae further recommends the creation of a Trust consisting
of His Highness Sri Marthanda Varma, Justice M. N. Krishnan,
Dr. M. Velayudhan Nair, Sri Jai Kumar (the present Chief Secretary,
Government of Kerala) and Sri Adithya Varma, and one of the two
Executive Officers as ex-officio member secretary. The Trust would have
requisite exemptions under income tax laws so that donations can
conveniently be made by the public through it for the benefit of the
36. The Amicus Curiae also acknowledges the fact that the numerous
supplementary recommendations made later in this report will involve
some expenditure. The Amicus Curiae therefore suggests that in respect
of all such matters connected with and arising out of the Temple, for e.g.,
the upachara, pooja, introduction of Vedic mantras and such other
activities for the Sree Padmanabha Swamy Temple, an opportunity
should first be given to the Royal family of the erstwhile State of
Travancore to make available any funds from any Trusts which they
may have to serve the Sree Padmanabha Swamy Temple. In the event
the Royal family is unable to make adequate resources available, the
same may be reported to this Hon’ble Court.
L. Listing the Temple as a World Heritage Site
37. Following discussions and suggestions from the Amicus Curiae, Dr. M.
Velayudhan Nair has started the process of proposing the Sree
Padmanabha Swamy Temple for inclusion in the World Heritage List.
For this purpose, a suitable proposal will have to be made to the State
Government, which will then have to be accepted by the Indian
Committee before being recommended to UNESCO for inclusion in the
‘tentative list’ of World Heritage Sites. If the suggestion fructifies, after
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being placed in the tentative list for one year, the Temple would be
placed in the World Heritage List. The Amicus Curiae undoubtedly
believes that the Temple is indeed a world heritage site given its
archaeological and historical significance. The Amicus Curiae suggests
that Sri Janhwij Sharma, Director (Conservation), Archaeological Survey
of India, may be requested to carry forward this proposal in consultation
with Dr. M.V. Nair.
M. Next steps on representations made to the Amicus Curiae
38. The Amicus Curiae received a number of representations from various
interest groups during his visit to the office of the Expert Committee on
September 2012. Some of them relate to grievances of employees and
lack of enforcement of various wage conditions. All these
representations may be examined by the Chief Executive Officer, in
consultation with Justice M. N. Krishnan, the Coordinator of the
N. Supplementary Recommendations
39. Without prejudice to the aforesaid recommendations, the Amicus Curiae
also suggests/recommends the following in the interest of the upkeep of
the Temple and the preservation of its heritage:
1) The Amicus Curiae has learnt that in 2011 a Deva Prasnam was held
in the Temple in which many orders were given by the Daivajnas
or the astrologers for immediate execution in the interest of the
Temple. The Chief Executive Officer in consultation with His
Highness Sri Marthanda Varma and the Tantris may follow and
implement such directions as are necessary.
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2) The rendition of Vishnu Sahasranamam must be made compulsory
along with Vedic chanting.
3) The Amicus Curiae submits that restoration of the moola vigraha in
the sanctum sanctorum of Lord Padmanabha Swamy, which uses
katu sharkara yogam, and the other Deities in the sanctum
sanctorum should be undertaken immediately and suitable
parihara should be done in respect of the same. The Amicus Curiae
has mentioned certain details concerning the vigrahas in a separate
note which has been submitted to this Hon’ble Court in a sealed
4) The Amicus Curiae further submits that the silver sheevli/utsava
idols of Sree Padmanabha, Sree Narasimha and Sree Krishna have
not been kept in a proper shape and there are problems with their
peethas. These idols have been found to be separated from their
respective bases. They must be repaired immediately in
consultation with the Tantris (particularly, Tharananalloor
Parameshwaram Nambuthirippadu and Satish Tharananalloor)
and Dr. Shastra Sharman Nambuthirippadu, and suitable parihara
should be done in respect of the same.
5) There may be a golden Meru Sree Chakram in the sanctum
sanctorum, subject to the opinion of the Pushpanjali Swamiyar, the
Tantris and His Holiness the Bharathi Teertha Swamigal of
6) Physical cleanliness of the priests inside the kitchen is important.
Also, the kitchens must be kept clean and the food/prasadam
should be cooked in a hygienic atmosphere.
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7) Purity of the Naivedyam for all Deities must be maintained and for
this purpose the main Temple kitchen, as well as the Agrashala
Ganapathy’s kitchen, must be strictly supervised by a Priest.
8) It may be added that since the main Deity is composed of 12008
Salagramas, the Naivedyam has to be commensurate with the
power of the Deity. It is necessary to ensure that the correct
quantities of milk and pal payasam are offered to the Deity.
9) The Amicus Curiae submits that the Temple kitchens must be
reviewed every day to ensure that the prasadam is eaten by the
priests only after it is brought back from the sanctum sanctorum
10) The Amicus Curiae further submits that panakam is the main
offering at this shrine. Special care must be taken and standards
of purity should be maintained while preparing and offering this
11) The devotees have complained about the presence of cockroaches
and other insects in the panakam many times. The food prepared
for the Lord should be made with utmost care, observing the
highest standards of hygiene.
12) Performance of Abhishekam must be of high standard. There must
be an area specially demarcated in the Temple, where articles for
daily Abhishekam can be safely stored. The number of tender
coconuts which are used for Abhishekam should be raised from 20
13) There is an absence of proper distribution of prasadam to the
devotees. It should be undertaken properly and the
palapayasappura should be revamped into a clean prasadappura
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where a standardized prasadam distribution system can be put in
14) Annadanam in the Oottupura near the Ganapathy shrine must be
properly streamlined and modernized to ensure the supply of
sattwik food only which is devoid of onions and garlic.
15) On the northern side, certain vendors sell ‘Naivedyam’. Naivedyam
is the prasadam which is offered to the Lord. However, the
vendors who are selling the said prasadam are not selling the one
cooked inside the Temple. Many devotees from North India and
other places are misled into buying such articles believing that it is
the real prasadam. This practice needs to be stopped forthwith.
16) Pure silk garments should be used for dressing the Moola Vigraha.
17) The Shaiva Salagramam in the sanctum sanctorum must be
18) The flower garlands for Deities are now made in the Alankara
Mandapa next to the Abhisrnava Mandapam. The garlands are often
seen lying on the floor of the mandapam. This is highly
objectionable. In this regard, one Temple employee must
supervise the making of the flower garlands. This should be done
using plantain fibres instead of cotton threads. In other words,
vazha naru should replace cotton threads which are presently
being used for making flower garlands.
19) The lamps inside as well as outside the sanctum sanctorum must
be cleaned daily.
20) As far as the replacement of electrified lamps with oil lamps is
concerned, the same should be examined by Dr. Shastra Sharman
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Nambuthirippadu, Tharananalloor Parameshwaram
Nambuthirippadu and Satish Tharananalloor.
21) The sheeveli ritual has to be done on time.
22) The shrines of Vishwaksena, Veda Vyasa and that of Sree Rama
have to be properly kept. Proper cleaning and more lighting is
required in all these shrines. A priest must be engaged in Sree
Rama’s sanctum for attending to the Deity the entire day.
23) It may be noted that the Agrashala Ganapathy Temple needs to be
carefully maintained as there is a distinct lack of cleanliness.
24) The idol of Lord Hanuman has a unique place in the Sree
Padmanabha Swamy Temple. Special upacharas for Lord
Hanuman must also be performed. The same should be done
forthwith in consultation with Dr. Shastra Sharman
Nambuthirippadu and Satish Tharananalloor.
25) The Chief Executive Officer, or in his absence, one of the two
Executive Officers, must be present for daily Nirmalayam in the
26) The Amicus Curiae submits that special attention should be given
for maintenance of the Thekkedom Sri Narasimha Murthy shrine.
There must be daily cleaning of the shrine which possesses great
power, and also its copper roof.
27) Suitable pujas, on a daily basis, must be offered in the Narasimha
28) Vazhipadu/Seva details should be displayed near all the four
entrances of the Temple.
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29) There must be a separate stall managed completely by the Temple
where devotional pictures, CDs and other paraphernalia related to
Lord Padmanabha Swamy are sold.
30) There should be a monthly publication in the form of a newsletter
by the Temple highlighting the activities at the Temple.
31) A proper website of the Temple should be developed and
maintained to provide opportunities for the people/devotees at
home and abroad to perform various sevas for the Lord online
and to know about the great heritage and history of the Temple.
The said website may be developed by Sri Gautham
32) The Chief Executive Officer must ensure that tenders are not
given to private parties for the supply of dhotis (mundu) and
vazhipadu thattu or offering plates containing thulasi leaves, fruits,
camphor, oil etc. to the devotees. Any tenders already given to
private parties should not be renewed. The Temple
Administration should directly take charge of the supply of these
33) The Temple well which is near the southern entrance must be
maintained and cleaned.
34) Although it is covered with gold plates, the valia bali kallu near the
flag staff should be cleaned atleast thrice a week.
35) The Amicus Curiae submits that there are trade unions which also
seem to be asserting their presence. As far as possible, there
should only be one trade union (it is learnt that the Kerala High
Court had ordered the same). The said trade union must
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effectively interact with the Chief Executive Officer and the
36) It has been noticed that there is always a problem of managing the
crowd of devotees near the entrance through the eastern Gopuram.
This needs to be controlled.
37) The way leading to the Kodi-maram or Dhwaja sthambha should be
cleaned daily. As of now it is sticky and stinks with bats’
38) The Natakashala Mukhappu and the space meant for Princesses of
the Royal family of the erstwhile State of Travancore to offer
prayers during festival sheevelies must be properly maintained and
39) During the sheevelies, unwashed red caps are used by the priests
and on these caps the utsava or sheevli idols of Sree Padmanabha
Swamy, Sri Narasimha and Sri Krishna are placed and then with
these silver idols, the priests circumambulate the Nalambalam three
times for each sheeveli. There must be space within the Temple to
regularly clean these red caps used by the priests for sheeveli.
40) There should be a smooth and healthy relationship between the
Temple Administration and the Temple staff.
41) Temple watchmen should not use abusive language at visiting
devotees and if they are seen using such language they should be
warned at the first instance. If they are found repeating such
behavior, the watchmen should be served with suspension
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42) Non-vegetarian food as well as liquor are being brought into the
‘Garuda kala samskarika samithi’ which is a cultural forum of the
Temple employees. This should be expressly prohibited and made
43) Shockingly, there is an absence of thulasi plants in the Temple
complex. Thulasi leaves are dear to the Deity in the Temple. In
this regard, planting thulasi gardens in the vast areas of the
Temple is highly recommended.
44) Many a times, the Nambis sneeze and spit within the Temple
complex or inside the Nalambalam. This should be avoided.
45) Spitting and littering by the devotees, employees and priests has
to be stopped. People doing such undesirable acts should be
warned and then fined by the Temple guards. Sign boards can be
installed at various points at the Temple to inform the
devotees/priests/employees to avoid such acts.
46) The Padmatheertham needs to be cleaned. Similarly, the tank in
which the Tantris take a bath, i.e., Mitranandapuram tank must also
be cleaned regularly. It is unfortunate that attention is not being
paid either to the Padmatheertham or to the Mitranandapuram tank.
(The Amicus Curiae has learnt that the Mitranandapuram tank was
cleaned some time back because of a Court order. However, it is
unfortunate that the Courts have to order the cleaning of temple
47) The public road leading to the Eastern Gopuram is unclean and
badly maintained. Tourist buses and other vehicles are parked
there and many shops have been established by the side of the
road. The shops must be removed and the buses should not be
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allowed to park near the Temple premises for security purposes as
well as for maintaining cleanliness.
48) There is no suggestion box for the devotees to give feedback to the
Temple authorities. These must be installed near all the four
entrances to the Temple and the suggestions should be reviewed
by the Chief Executive Officer and the two Executive Officers.
49) There are no guides for the visiting devotees. Trained guides
should be made available and the fees may be fixed by the Temple
50) There is no system for reviewing the salaries of the Temple
employees and for the payment of the same. The Temple
Administration should look into this aspect as well.
51) Once every fortnight/month, separate training programmes
should be undertaken for the following:-
(a) Temple priests (by the Tantri);
(b) Temple guards (by the Temple commander);
(c) Sweepers (by the Sweeping Supervisor or Puranthali
(d) Nadaswaram and other instrumentalists (by an expert);
(e) Other employees (by the Chief Executive Officer/Executive
These individuals have to be constantly reminded/updated about
the rituals of the Temple to maintain a spiritual atmosphere and
for the proper and effective discharge of their duties.
52) The salary of the Swamiyar should be increased.
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53) There should be health checkups for the Temple employees at
54) There should be separate parking lots for the Temple employees
near the four main entrances or ‘Nadaas’ of the Temple.
55) The buildings and lands of the Temple which have been illegally
occupied by various people and organizations must be claimed
back and put to suitable use.
56) There must be strict supervision in all the centres where donations
to the Temple are counted with the help of cameras to avoid thefts
and other mischiefs.
57) There should be a ‘goshala’ in the Temple premises for supplying
milk in required quantities to the Temple kitchen.
58) Proper maintenance of the Abhisravana mandapam where utsava
rites take place, twice a year, is necessary.
59) The area near the Eastern Nada is dirty and there are
unauthorized vendors/persons who have occupied the said Nada.
The Eastern Nada needs to be cleaned up immediately. Many of
the vendors are selling articles which are used for Archana. The
Archana tickets which are issued by the Temple are intended only
for the purpose of receipt of pushpam and chandanam as prasadam
from the Temple. It may also be pointed out that it is not in the
tradition of the Temple to bring articles from outside to offer to
the Deities. Therefore, the unauthorized vendors should be kept
away from the Temple premises.
60) It is not in the tradition of this Temple to conduct marriages by
exchanges of garlands or otherwise. This is a Temple with great
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Achara where maximum amount of cleanliness is expected to be
maintained. Such activities, as are not done in accordance with
the tradition of the Temple, must be discontinued.
61) Usually, devotees are taken into the Temple, from the left to right
direction. This is a tradition which is followed in all temples, both
in North and South India. However, the manner in which the
devotees are being guided in the Sree Padmanabha Swamy
Temple does not conform to the traditional method of taking
pradakshna or parikrama at the Temple. This needs to be corrected.
62) There are some unconfirmed reports that money lending business
is also going on in the Temple premises. The security
administrator and the guards should ensure that such unwanted
activities do not take place.
63) The Amicus Curiae is of the opinion that the entry through the
South Nada should be stopped for the present so that there is
adequate access control in respect of the other entry points in the
64) The Chief Executive Officer, along with the two Executive
Officers, must ensure total cleanliness and hygiene in every part
of the Temple, including in all the brass lamps, the toilets, the
public amenities as well as the place where the payasam is
distributed in plastic glasses which has led to unclean
surroundings near the South Nada.
65) In view of the fact that there are two Madhoms, i.e., the Naduvil
Madhom and the Munjeera Madhom whose Swamiyars are
supposed to be involved as the spiritual heads of the Temple, their
participation must be made mandatory. The present Pushpanjali
Swamiyar of the Naduvil Madhom as well as the Munjeera
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Madhom may be requested to immediately resume their visits and
duties to the Temple. In the event that any other person wishes to
offer pushpanjali, the same should be reviewed by His Highness
Sri Marthanda Varma in accordance with the advice to be
rendered by Dr. Shastra Sharman Nambuthirippadu,
Tharananalloor Parameshwaram Nambuthirippadu and Satish
66) In the event any person is found unsuitable in any administrative
capacity, His Highness Sri Marthanda Varma should take suitable
steps for his/her removal in consultation with Justice M. N.
67) Some of the priests or Shanthies meant to assist the four Nambis are
seen in unclean attire. There must be a proper check on the
cleanliness of the dress each of the priests, who should strictly
adhere to the dress code.
68) Each of the Nambis has to be examined to see whether they are
doing the pujas properly, especially in the smaller shrines.
69) A panel, consisting of Dr. Shastra Sharman Nambuthirippadu,
Tharananalloor Parameshwaram Nambuthirippadu, and Satish
Tharananalloor, should examine the Tantris. The examination
should test the knowledge of the Tantris in Shastras, Vedic
literature and Tantric practices and procedure to worship the
70) As far as the Nambis are concerned, it is important that they are
instructed in the Vedic texts which are necessary for puja in the
Sree Padmanabha Swamy Temple. They should be given
instructions in the chanting of the Purushasukta, Sreesukta as well
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as Bhagyasukta. Training must be given under the direct
supervision of Dr. Shastra Sharman Nambuthirippadu, President
of the Tantra Vidya Peetham. Each of the Nambis has to be
examined to see whether they are doing the pujas properly,
especially in the smaller shrines.
71) The Nambis have to come to the Temple from their Madhoms
located at a distance from the Temple within the fort area and
sometimes they enter the Temple without washing their feet. It
must be ensured that they wash their feet thoroughly before
entering the main gates of the Temple. This should apply to other
priests as well.
72) The newly appointed Nambis must visit Anantheshwaram,
Kasargode district and Tiruvattar, Kanyakumari district shrines
before they take charge, as per the conventions of the Temple.
73) The Nambis need to be initiated into the mantras by the chief
Tantri and this must be overseen by Dr. Shastra Sharman
Nambuthirippadu, Tharananalloor Parameshwaram
Nambuthirippadu and Satish Tharananalloor.
74) Any person including Shanthi, Nambi or Tantri who has had a
death in the family or a birth must not enter the Temple. In
accordance with the traditions of the Temple, during the period
which is considered as the period of abstention (pollution), such
persons must not enter the Temple.
75) The religious rites and ceremonies in Sree Padmanabha Swamy
Temple, such as Bhadradeepam, Chakrabhja puja and Jalajapam which
used to be performed earlier, must now be restarted.
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76) It may also be necessary to consider employing the services of a
retired police officer for effective security administration and to
ensure administrative discipline within the Temple. The Amicus
Curiae suggests the name of Sri K.V. Gopalakrishnan, a retired IPS
officer of the Intelligence Bureau for this role. In the event Sri
Gopalakrishnan is unavailable, Sri Rangachari, former Chairman,
Board of Direct Taxes, may be requested. This appointee must
work in association with the Kerala Police which is currently
providing security at the Temple and will support the office of the
Chief Executive Officer.
77) Vendors inside the Temple have been appointed through a tender.
However, the security administration is of the opinion that the
presence of such vendors inside the Temple on the Eastern Nada
(Thiruvambadi Nada) poses a security risk. The Chief Executive
Officer, along with the two Executive Officers, should therefore
attempt to remove these vendors in a peaceful manner while
giving them some alternative place to continue their activities.
Justice M. N. Krishnan, Coordinator of the Overseeing Committee, may
be requested to implement such recommendations as are found
acceptable by this Hon’ble Court. In addition, the State Government
must be directed to ensure that no one should obstruct the execution of
the recommendations and suggestions found acceptable.
1. The Amicus Curiae wishes to state that the Hon’ble Chief Minister of the
State of Kerala was extremely kind and he offered the fullest cooperation
in matters relating to the Temple. The Chief Minister and the
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Government of Kerala have also shown a high degree of statesmanship
and dignity in not wanting to be seen as unduly interested in the
Temple, its affairs or its wealth. Instead, they have endeavoured to allow
the Temple to be a self-sustaining institution in a manner which will be
2. The Amicus Curiae also wishes to state that no hospitality was received
from any person during his visit and all expenditures towards the stay
of the Amicus Curiae and his team members was borne by the Amicus
Curiae alone. It may also be added that Dr. M. Velayudhan Nair who
was with the Amicus Curiae throughout the visit, as well as Justice M. N.
Krishnan, rendered valuable advice and showed deep interest in the
affairs of the Temple.
3. It must of course be recorded that this Hon’ble Court has acted at critical
times, but to act critically in a matter of faith involving a temple is an
unusual occasion. The local citizenry in Thiruvananthapuram are
extremely happy that this Hon’ble Court has intervened and they hope
that the Sree Padmanabha Swamy Temple will continue to serve and
please its devotees in the traditional way as always. After seeing the
goodwill as well as the extreme piety of the Royal family, for whom Sree
Padmanabha Swamy is their life-blood, the cooperative attitude of the
State Government, the scholarship and the extraordinary manner in
which the inventorying work has been undertaken by Dr. M.
Velayudhan Nair (who, incidentally, is also a member of various
international bodies in archaeology) and his team, the Amicus Curiae is
more than happy to report that the choice of persons could not have
been more ideal.
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4. Before parting, the Amicus Curiae adds that Dr. M. Velayudhan Nair is
correct in envisioning the work at the Sree Padmanabha Swamy Temple
as the beginning of pioneering efforts to scientifically restore all temples
in India. Dr. M. Velayudhan Nair’s advice could not have come at a
more opportune time. The Amicus Curiae has therefore suggested to Dr.
M. Velayudhan Nair that multiple workshops should be held with
scientists and archaeologists of repute from all over the world so that
modern scientific understanding of India’s heritage and architectural
marvels can be enhanced.
5. However, the Amicus Curiae must sound a note of caution as well.
Increasingly in this country, political parties and certain members of the
political class look for priceless treasures in temples and often form
unholy combinations to enter temples for purposes which are hardly
legitimate. It is necessary to insulate the Sree Padmanabha Swamy
Temple from such kinds of extraneous considerations. It is also
important to protect the treasures of the Sree Padmanabha Swamy
Temple from any devious or extraneous form of appropriation. It is
common knowledge that ever since the vaults have been opened, great
interest has been shown in the Temple in India and abroad. It is
therefore all the more important that this Temple has a proper
administration that can effectively and constantly supervise, manage
and protect the Temple’s affairs.
New Delhi Gopal Subramanium
29.10.2012 Amicus Curiae
List of participants at the Joint Meeting of the Expert Committee and
the Overseeing Committee held on 29.09.2012
Venue: Office of the Expert Committee, Ramanamadam, Vadakkenada,
Fort, Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala.
Time: 1700 hrs
1. Shri Gopal Subramanium, Amicus Curiae
2. Justice Shri M.N.Krishnan, Coordinator, Overseeing Committee
3. Shri Adithya Varma, Member, Overseeing Committee
4. Dr. M. Velayudhan Nair, Coordinator, Expert Committee
5. Dr. M Nambirajan, Member, Expert Committee
6. Shri V.K.Harikumar, Member, Expert Committee
7. Shri C. Karthikeyan Nair, Administrative Officer, Expert Committee
8. Shri C. Balaraman, Director of Mining & Geology, Govt. of Kerala
9. Shri P. K. Satheesan, Chief Engineer, PWD (Bldgs), Govt. of Kerala
10. Shri C. Prasannakumar, Managing Director, KELTRON, Trivandrum
11. Shri K M Gopinath, Executive Director, KELTRON, Trivandrum
12. Smt Beena Mathew, General Manager, KELTRON, Trivandrum
13. Shri Jayakumar, Deputy General Manager, KELTRON, Trivandrum
14. Shri P. Vimaladitya, DCP(L&O), Kerala Police, Trivandrum
15. Shri Vijayakumar, DCP(SPST), Kerala Police, Trivandrum
16. Shri T. Saboo, Engineer, ISRO, Trivandrum.
17. Shri P. Anilkumar, Sr. Architect, Govt. of Kerala, Trivandrum
18. Shri Apoorv Kurup, Advocate, Office of the Amicus Curiae
19. Shri Nishit Agrawal, Advocate, Office of the Amicus Curiae
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