The Padmanabhaswamy temple in Thiruvananthapuram, made international headlines in 2011, when a treasure valued at $ 22 billion was discovered in the underground vaults there. Before this discovery, the temple was hardly known outside Kerala. Even within, it was considered to be the private sanctuary of the Travancore royal family. But how the temple came to hold such great wealth and the royal family’s long tryst with it, make for a great story.
The origins of the fabulous wealth of the Padmanabhaswamy Temple are intertwined with the fortunes of the Travancore kingdom and its greatest ruler Martanda Varma. In the 1720s, the Padmanabhaswamy temple was just a small wooden temple dedicated to Vishnu and Thiruvananthapuram was nothing but a small village. The great seat of power and glory of Travancore kings was at Padmanabhapuram, the city of Padmanabha, located 60 kms south of Thiruvananthapuram. Today, the magnificent old wooden palace of Padmanabhapuram is the only remainder of the once mighty capital of the great King Martanda Varma.
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