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article imageSree Padmanabhaswamy temple in India to undergo special audit

By Sravanth Verma     Sep 24, 2014 in World
The Sree Padmanabhaswamy temple in the coastal South Indian state of Kerala will be audited to make a list of its inventory by former Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG), Vinod Rai.
The special audit was ordered by the Supreme Court of India after a report was filed in April, 2014 by Gopal Subramanium, a senior lawyer who served as amicus curiae and independent adviser on Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple matters to the court. His report alleged financial irregularities in the administration of the temple by the temple committee.
Rai said that the audit should be completed in five or six months, and that the temple committee and administration were cooperative. "It will go on for about five or six months more at least," he said. "One thing that is good is happening is that we are getting a lot of co-operation. Audit is not difficult to the extent that records are available," he added.
Rai was the CAG in India from 2008-13, and was instrumental in blowing the lid off several scams that riddled the 10-year rule of the Congress Party. These revelations were instrumental in the Congress losing the 2014 Parliamentary elections to the Bharatiya Janata Party.
The temple dates back to at least the sixth or seventh century when it was already a major place of Vishnu worship. The temple finds prominent mention in the ancient scriptures such as the Vishnu Puran and Garuda Purana. Over the years, 36,000 acres of land were donated for the temple's upkeep, besides various riches.
In 2011, the Supreme Court had ordered an initial audit of the temple properties, which had remained in the hands of the former Travancore royal family, which had historically governed these areas before India's independence. The audit found that six underground vaults contained riches worth 22 billion USD, including 700 to 800 kilograms of gold coins, heavy gold chains and several precious gems.
“All these things were strewn and scattered everywhere,” recalls Justice CS Rajan, part of the audit team back then. “They were not really arranged systematically. There were baskets, some earthen pots, some copper pots, and in all these things, these things were kept. It was a magnificent experience. There are no words to describe it.”
The temple's sixth vault however has remained unopened, since the lock was heavily rusted and the audit team had not broken the doors down taking into consideration people's religious sentiments. What lies behind this vault's doors is still a matter of conjecture, though Rai's initial audit shows that the vault was opened by the temple committee seven times since 1990, though they had earlier claimed that all vaults had remained unopened for 150 years.
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