Protos' Musings

"In the long run men hit only what they aim at" — Thoreau

What fate awaits Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple? The redux.

with 13 comments

It was with a sad heart that I wrote a couple of years ago about the fate awaiting Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple. Over the last couple of days, things have taken a decisive turn with the Honourable High Court of Kerala directing the State Government to take immediate steps to form a trust or similar entity to take over control of the temple.

After reading about the judgement, I understood that the current Maharaja or any of the future Maharajas are not supposed to be in charge of running the show in the temple, and in fact, the Royal Family of Travancore cannot even lay claim to the temple. Though this might be true, one cannot escape but feeling sad at the turn of events, and realizing that the soul of the temple might be undergoing metamorphosis in way that may or may not turn out to be for the good — and that may not be case would be a travesty!

This temple is special (to me and many others) and one of the reasons why it is special has everything to do with the notion that the temple belongs to the Travancore Royal Family. This family has a proud and longstanding tradition of being the custodians of the temple and of course, for taking fantastic care of the temple, barring any allegations of misconduct that might have cropped up in recent years.

It is one of those rare temples that I have been to where you actually feel bhakthi, and where, going to the temple is as a joyful process in itself (as you have to wear a mundu [veshti] and neriyal [uthareeyam/shawl], as opposed to zipping in and out of the temple in either the corporate attire or Jeans and T-shirt or God forbid, shorts, on the way to work or cinema or shopping or whatever). Of course, admittedly even this has got diluted over the last 10 years as you can now get a mundu for darshan if you pay a small charge, not to mention the always crowded hallways and long queues for darshan that I get to see most of the time in recent years.

If you grew up in modern — and dare I say, mostly — commercialized big city environments, you might miss out on the gist of what I am driving at here, and I can even see many having this to say about the whole post: “that is just being nostalgic, and sentiments have no place in business or law or whatever, stupid!”.

At this moment, I can’t help but feel a tad angry — how the minorities are allowed to run their religious institutions as per their culture or heritage or manner (and I have nothing against it) but when it comes to Hindus, the Government has to take care of the temples — directly or indirectly. Of course, there must have been some logic behind the idea when it was formed, and though I can understand how it can be useful for many temples that can’t sustain without that aid and care, I fail to see how and why for a temple like Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple, which has a long history of being well maintained and provided for by the Royal Family, this would be necessary.

May be what we need is some mechanism to have checks and balances – as one of the issues at hand is that there are allegations that the Maharaja is perhaps not doing his best. But I am not sure how this can be reliably implemented.

The most regrettable part of this whole series is how this whole saga might have been kicked off because of petty personal ego clashes – there were a set of people who had [or is it have?] the privilege of having the darshan before the ordinary guys (like me) could go in, and may be some of them were offended by some act of another group or of temple employees. The rest, as they say, is turning out to be history! I don’t know how many people noticed that though it has been almost two decades since the last Maharaja passed away, it is only in the last 4-5 years this issue of who is in charge of the temple or whether the Government should take over the temple has become important.

May Papps (as me and my friends refer to Him fondly) continue to bless us all and ensure better sense prevails, and let us pray that He allows all the great minds involved in this story to come together to find a solution in a way that leaves the soul of the temple untouched. And, if there has been some bad practices — like crap commercialization –introduced in the temple during the last 10-15 years, it can and should be rolled back.

PS: I left my native Trivandrum for my graduation studies in 1995, after spending my first 17 years there and so I am speaking more from my heart than head. Though I visit Trivandrum for a few days every year, I understand it isn’t the same as staying in a place to talk with any authority about the events unfolding.

PS2: I am writing this post after about 18 months, and it took such an extraordinary judgement to wake me out of the slumber. Though I am sad that I neglected this blog for so long, I have been having some interesting learnings and conversations over on Twitter. I hope I get to write more posts more frequently going forward.


Written by Proto

February 2, 2011 at 13:58 hrs

Posted in Random Ramblings, tvm

13 Responses

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  1. @Proto: Not sure whom you intended this to read. If it was only between us (guess you got whom I meant by us) this much preface was not required. But if you meant to all (who ever reads this) may be justifiable. Said and done, the new developments @ Papps is not healthier for its customs or for its sanctity. Unlike the earlier days, nobody can go and see HIM otherwise in a queue. Also there is a change in lot many other formalities as well. We are nobody to comment whatever happens there, but the temple remains Ours for ever. I am sure none of us will get THAT FEEL anywhere else other than at Papps temple.


    February 4, 2011 at 14:52 hrs

  2. @Harish: Thanks for the reply, pal. I am not sure who would read this with that subject line except those who have an interest in Trivandrum, the temple or in my blog. Just couldn’t digest the fact that petty ego clashes are being allowed to change the course of one of the last standing bastions of sanctity. I visit temples here where the pujaris has no qualms to a) leave the mobile on inside the sanctum sanctorum without even bothering to keep it in silent mode b) drink coffee just outside the sanctum sanctorum but still inside the praharam, and that too in a way that would make our mom or patti say “tut, tut” (of course, in Tamil “echil panni kudikkathey”) if we do that at home, and c) seek money explicitly. And please don’t proclaim that the temple belongs to you or us — it belongs to the State as per the Court Order. It belongs to us only in our minds, hearts and memories.


    February 4, 2011 at 15:05 hrs

    • Very truly said. I can imagine the feeling that royal family. Being born in that family, if they can’t get hold of their own temple, just imagining the fate of an ordinary man like us!!!! As Kamal told in UPO, the common man, just the idiotic common man!!!!


      February 4, 2011 at 16:09 hrs

      • @Harish: Dey, most of their royal possessions [sthavara jangamangal :)] would have been ceded to the Union of India when the state of Travancore Cochin was born, but the point is the temple represents something far bigger than you, me, people indulging in petty politics and ego-one-upmanship, the royal family and dare I say, the Maharaja himself. I am not saying this, the precedent was set when Marthandavarma decided to make Him the ruler of Travancore and play the role of the King as “Padmanabha dasan”. It was a master stroke that shaped the course of the culture, society and lives of people in the state of Travancore. I salute the high thinking and maturity of that king (as compared to the egoistic nature of the players in the current drama) and I hope his grand vision is not converted to a circus for either the State or some vested interests to mint money. I heard today that this drama might continue in the Supreme Court, and I hope at least they take a decision that leaves the soul of the temple unscathed.


        February 4, 2011 at 20:53 hrs

  3. hi suresh,

    I read the whole thing.Very very interesting.what a flow u have.we felt very bad about the judgement.His Highness evvalavu elderly person.Avarukku edhiraga ippadi case kodukkalaamaa?Onrumea theriya villai

    jaya mami


    February 4, 2011 at 23:38 hrs

    • @jayamami: Thanks a bunch for the kind words about the language. Glad you liked it. If you remember, you and Rama akka were among the first to encourage me to write many years back. Let us hope this ends in a manner that doesn’t leave a bad taste in the mouth (as is happening at the moment with thousands of people).


      February 5, 2011 at 23:34 hrs

  4. Hi Suresh,
    Jaya Mami took a printout &gave it to me.I took the same to my office &showed to my friends.Every body liked it.U have echoed the voices of thousands of devotees of Lord Padhmanabha.Some of whom silently suffer sad turn of events.But we are confidentthat Lors Padhmanabha will look after himself .

    Mani Mama


    February 6, 2011 at 07:52 hrs

    • Thanks a lot for the kind words, Mama. All we can do at the moment is pray and hope for the best.


      February 7, 2011 at 16:42 hrs

  5. Thank you so much for showcasing this issue.

    To be frank, its quite unfortunate to see the order from High Court Of Kerala.

    Its gonna be a great loss for us, as this is going to be under the control of a government. The order strictly mentioned to allow Royal Family Members to perform their daily prayers/during arattu like customs. (Thank god atleast they allowed that, if not, there will be a good debate who will carry the udavaal during arattu!)

    After all what our government will do? They already expressed their decision infront of the court. If they took care also, don’t know how they gonna manage. Slowly the customs will change, like what done on Guruvayoor. Churidar Entry, with Pants… Fate… No other words I can use.

    It pains me a lot naturally as I born and brought up in this environment. Cannot even miss a single arat in my life time for any reason. But now lets see……

    I criticize the temple authorities who actually paved the way for the growth of these weeds.

    Most saddest part is the response from several political parties. They took this as an oppurtunity to showcase themself. Seriously I don’t even knew there are this much parties around us. Anything taken for granted…!

    I don’t know how the court came to this conclusion. The treaty made between Union of India and Then Maharaja HH Balarama Varma, clearly mentions the possession. Since we are in India, there will be a new law to suppress existing one.

    One good part as you said is Royal Families Silence, that we should learn from them. They respect Indian Law & Constitution.( Inturn that quality may be inborn)

    I came to know royal family is moving to Supreme court regarding this. Lets hope for the best… !

    (See this comments also in

  6. Hi Ravi, thanks for sharing your thoughts and for the kind words. As you said, let us hope for the best. I like the way you store your comments in a blog of its own.

    PS: Btw, how did you locate my blog? I can’t see this post being listed in Google Page 1! :)


    February 11, 2011 at 07:22 hrs

    • Thanks Suresh…!

      Usually I check for updates regarding Padmanabha Swami temple and Royal family everyday.

      Came across your blog from google.

      One Personal Comment

      I know you well, when i was young, living in Big Palla Street, you used to come to Thylu Maami’s haus.
      I am son of Vadai Mama who used to carry vadas door to door.:-))

      If you want the latest snap of arattu, please email @


      Pranavam Ravikumar

      • Hi Ravi, I think you were a kid when I was in high school or college. I do remember your family staying there, and of course, everyone knows your father. I am really glad that your father’s efforts paid off — I am sure you would have struggled a lot more to reach where you are but for his toil.

        So, you are with GE, I assume. Bangalore? What are you there?

        Arattu — why not upload it on Flickr or Picasa and share the link so that everyone can see it rather than having to mail you?

        Do you have any other blog other than the blog-with-links-to-the-interesting-articles-you-read?


        February 15, 2011 at 19:43 hrs

  7. Hey Thanks Suresh!

    Ofcourse yes, we were brought up in his effort only. I even accompanied him in our streets for an year or two, just to know how difficult it is. After all that decided our pace.

    I am with Genpact India, Bangalore, as a Process Developer, supporting GE Clients.

    Its a personal photograph, thats why can’t do that. I thought of sharing since I was accopanying royal family during arattu, so that you can fix me.

    Yes I am blogging in three languages. (Malayalam Poems) (English Poems) (Tamil Poems)

    Thanks for writing..!

    Personal regards

    Pranavam Ravikumar :-)

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