Sunday, July 3, 2011

Treasure Trove of Travancore Royalty

When Tutankhamun's treasure was discovered in 1922 by Howard Carter and George Herbert it received world wide press coverage.  But the media interest in the discovery of the treasure trove of  Travancore kings  at Padmanabhaswamy temple is surprisingly very muted except may be in the vernacular press and channels in Kerala i presume.  The initial reports suggested that the treasure may not be more than 5000 crores, but there were more than 5 more vaults yet to be opened.  Now the booty has skyrocketed to more than 75,000 crores.  The antiquity value of some of the finds may be geometric in value escalation and may exceed 10 lakh crores if auctioned in Sotheby's.

How did the royalty and the priests maintain such secrecy of the hidden treasures is a big mystery and sing praise for their integrity.  Consider the syphoning of wealth from Sai Baba's treasury or Yajur Mandir to Padmanabhaswamy Temple treasure.   There are so many theories emerging for the source of accumulation of wealth for the royalty.

1.  The travancore kings were trustworthy custodians, which must have prompted all the surrounding kings in Kerala and Tamil Nadu to deposit their treasury in the safe vault of the temple in wake of attacks by Tipu Sultan, Shivaji and hordes of  foreign invaders.  They must have acted as olden days custodians or bankers.

2. The unsurpassed wealth adorning the Vijaynagar empire,  had to be transported to safe haven after their defeat in 1565 to Bahmani sultante, to various places such as Gingee, Chandragiri and Travancore kingdom.  The travancore kings must have received a huge deposit of the treaures for safe keeping from the emperor of Vijaynagar empire.  His wealth was in one place and he sought shelter in various hideouts starting from Penkonda,  Gooty, Chandragiri and Gingee.

3. Wealth earned during the spice trading with China, Arabia too from ages must have contributed to the treasure trove accumulated at the temple vault.  The low value of the trade, which was mostly in barter in olden days, but later in currencies could not have been the only plausible source of such huge wealth. 

4. Travancore kings raiding the neighbouring kings and looting their wealth seems to be highly improbable, considering the fact that they were too a large extent peace and pleasure seekers, looking at their palaces in Kayankulam, Alwaye, Tripunithara and Trivandurm.

I hope all the treasures recovered is duly recorded for posterity and deposited in a secure museum.  It would attract more tourism to God's own country.  The ideal place to showcase the treasure trove is Napier Museum or Tripunithara Museum.  Let us hope the transperancy of the kerala govt. will unviel a new chapter modern India to safeguard the heritage, and be a model for other states to follow.

The Vijaynagar empire held sway over entire south India from 1356 to 1646.  When the battle of Talikota culminated in the defeat of united Vijaynagar empire in 1565, and the lone survivor Thirumala Raya left Hampi ( capital ) with 550 elephants full of treasures to Penkonda ( second capital ) wherein he entrouge was not safe, again they fled to Chandragiri ( Tirupathi ) Vellore & Gingee and ultimately major portions of the treasure got deposited at Padmanabhaswamy temple vaults.

Many would question the above theory on the basis of treasures found.  The major clue proving that the treasures belonged to vijaynagar empire are the diamonds.  The world's best diamonds were only available with Vijaynagar emperors.  Gold and other precious metals can always be melted and altered, it is speculated that some were converted into currencies of the British and local rulers.  

Ack :  Newspaper reports of  Deccan Herald and TOI dated 2/7/11 & 3/7/11 & Raja verma painting from Enchanted kerala

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cvsmuthy said...

It is heartening to note that the kings have not touched anything till date. And think about Swiss bank accounts. Your theory that all the erstwhile rulers deposited their wealth in Trivananthapuram kingdom, appears plausible. One hope the Government does not tamper with this wealth.

Sailor said...

Very interesting story!
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