Revered religious places and spiritually soulful sojourns alright but temples of India also remain steeped as much in riches as it does in devotion. Be it a manifestation of the riches of the glorious India of the past or the mind boggling amounts amassed through donations or even an extension of their reputation of being widely popular and most visited shrines, the country is home to a number of temples that are significantly rich- being even among the richest in the world. Here are the 11 richest temples in India which are rich way beyond your imagination-
Sri Padmanabhaswamy Temple, Thiruvananthapuram
The richest temple not just in India but also in the world, the Sri Padmanabhaswamy Temple is located in the heart of Trivandrum, the Evergreen City of India. In fact, Trivandrum or Thiruvananthapuram literally translates to The City of Lord Ananta referring to the deity of the Padmanabhaswamy temple emphasizing not just its prominence in the riches but also in everyday life and existence of the people in the city.
A magnificent specimen of architecture that is a stunning fusion of the Chera and the Dravidian styles, the Padmanabhaswamy has been rich enough since times immemorial, leading it also to be therefore referred at times as The Golden Temple. With an estimated fortune worth one trillion dollar doing the rounds in its many hidden chambers, the Temple holds enough riches to inspire as much awe as reverence.
Be it gold idols or gold pots, huge amounts of silver, jewels and coins, the temple remains steeped in gilded grandeur. In fact even in just five smaller of its eight vaults, the treasure unearthed hence remains by far the largest collection of items of gold and fully precious stones in the recorded history of the world. Believed to have been accumulated over several thousand years, the presence of the enormous treasure also does well to keep the temple steeped in a certain aura of mystery and charm.
Venkateswara Temple, Tirumala, Tirupati
Another of the richest temple in India as also in the world in terms of donations received and wealth is the Venkateswara Temple located at Tirumala in Tirupati. Also referred to as the Temple of Seven Peaks because of it sitting on the seventh peak Venkatadri of the Seshachalam Hills range, the temple is dedicated to Venkateswara who is an incarnation of Lord Vishnu. The Venkateswara Temple also assumes prominence beyond its wealthy reputation, being one of the most famous and oldest pilgrimage sites as also the most visited holy place in the world.
A traditional Dravidian style of architecture characterise this magnificent temple, the presiding deity of which manifests in an idol that speaks volumes about the wealth it harbours. The gigantic eight feet tall Lord Venkateswara idol sits under the gilded dome Ananda Nilaya Divya Vimana and sports eyes that are decorated with precious and semi- precious stones. With a present worth of over 900 crores and 52 tonnes of gold ornaments, the Venkateswara Temple stands ground as one of the more wealthy holy places anywhere in the world.
Siddhivinayak Temple, Mumbai
Mumbai’s famed Siddhivinayak Temple dedicated to Lord Ganesha also makes it matter as being one of the richest temple in India. Frequented by celebrities and commoners alike, the temple houses a gold roofed sanctum under which the statue of Lord Ganesha sits. With donations ranging from a whopping Rs 100 million to 150 million every year and a cumulative wealth of some 158 kg of gold offerings, this once tiny site has now grown into a massive architectural phenomenon that attracts visitors and devotees alike. In existence for almost two centuries now since 1801, it has only been sometime since 1975 that the temple began witnessing considerable footfall.
Shirdi Sai Baba Temple, Shirdi
Another among the top pilgrimage sites of the world, the Shirdi Sai Baba Temple also is one of the richest in India. Built at the place where Sai Baba had spent his spiritual life and also laid down his life, the temple is a beautiful shrine that has been in existence since 1922. Managed by the Shri Sai Baba Sansthan Trust, the temple houses the statue of Sai Baba as well as his Samadhi that has been carved out of Italian marble and sports a gold crown. Even the interior and exterior cone of the temple are covered with gold and with a footfall of an approximate 25000 pilgrims per day, the shrine also has made accumulations worth a couple of thousand crores in cash as well as in gold and silver to emerge as one of the richest holy names in India.
Golden Temple, Amritsar
The holiest Gurudwara and a prominent tourist attraction in the state of Punjab in India, the Golden Temple is also one among the richest. The very name of the temple bears testimony to its wealthy manifestation, with 400 kilograms of gold having been used to construct its upper floors. Also known as Harmandir Sahib or Darbar Sahib, this religious shrine with a long history of demolitions and reconstruction got its present name in the 1800s when it was rebuilt by Maharaja Ranjit Singh in marble and copper and the sanctum was overlaid with gold foil.
The two storied sanctum sits resplendent in its gilded state with the central gold foil dome and is equally an extravagant presence in its interiors. The ground floor remains lined with white marble while the doors exhibit gold foil covered copper sheets decorated with nature motifs. Additionally, even the embossed ceiling of the upper floor is gilded and remains decorated with jewels. Open to all devotees irrespective of faith and religious leanings, the Golden Temple has some 100,000 people visiting the holy shrine everyday for worship.
Meenakshi Temple, Madurai
One of the oldest and most important temples in India is the Meenakshi Temple of Madurai dedicated to Goddess Meenakshi, who is a form of Parvati. Not just a religious center but also an economically significant one with the goods and services for temple-related pilgrims and visitors being a significant part of the Madurai economy, the temple remains indeed resplendent in the riches. With approximately 60 million worth of revenue earned annually courtesy a daily footfall of 20 to 300 thousand visitors and two golden carts and some 33000 sculptures housed within its premises, the Meenakshi Temple also is one of the richest in India.
Somnath Temple, Gujarat
An important tourist spot and also the richest temple in Gujarat, the Somnath Temple stands as a majestic structure even after numerous demolitions. Specifically notable is the loot of the temple for some seventeen times by Turk ruler Mahmud of Ghazni due to its stupendous gold and silver collections. A Chauluka style built architectural specimen, the present day structure is an assertion of the prosperity of its good old times that has been reiterated time and again even with multiple ruins. Undisclosed but enormous nevertheless, the assets of the temple including its 1700 acres of land make it another of the richest temple in India.
Sabarimala Ayyappa Temple, Kerala
One of the most visited of temples in India with an annual footfall of about a 100 million devotees, the Sabarimala Temple in Kerala also is among the richest in the country. No wonder with such a huge number thronging the temple, there has been an amassment of some 230 crores worth of revenue in Sabarimala. But even with revenue collections aside, the temple still is very much an extravagant presence.
Dedicated to the Hindu celibate deity Ayyappan, the presiding idol is one panchahola presence- a one and a half feet structure made from an alloy of five metals. The sanctum sanctorum of the temples is a gilded manifestation replete with a gold plated roof and four golden finials at the top while an additional 15 kgs gold reserve further reinstate the wealthy existence of the religious place. While the Sabarimala temple is distinctive in being a male exclusive one, however there also exist restrictions on the entry of even all men within its premises. In its wealth as well as in its distinctive religious manifestation, the Sabarimal Temple has forever been arousing the curiosity and interest of the world.
Jagannath Temple, Puri
One of the most famous religious sites in India is the Jagannath Temple located in Puri, Orissa. An average footfall of almost 30000 characterise the temple everyday that actually houses three presiding deities of Jagannath, Balabhadra and Subhadra despite its name. The wooden idols sit in the inner sanctum of the temple on a bejewelled platform or ratnabedi.
The temple complex itself is spread over a sprawling 400,000 square feet area and is surrounded by a 20 feet high wall. Interestingly, some 30,000 acres of land are registered in the name of Lord Jagannath himself! There also is an ample of gold reserve, with some 209 kgs adoring the deities during every Suna Besha ceremony itself. With a net worth of some 150 crores in Indian rupees, the Jagannath Temple is undoubtedly one of the richest in India, given that just two of the seven chambers that houses its treasure have been opened till date.
Vaishno Devi Temple, Jammu
The second most visited temple in India that attracts annually millions of devotees from all over the world is the Vaishno Devi temple that also is one of the richest. A yearly income of some Rs 500 crores in the form of donations help its wealthy stature as does the almost 1.2 tonnes of gold held in reserve within the premises of the temple situated in a million year old cave. Dedicated to Mata Vaishno Devi, the temple is also recognized recognized as one of the 51 Shakti Peeths in India.
Kashi Vishwanath Temple, Varanasi
Another of the richest temple in India is the Kashi Viswanath Temple of Varanasi. Dedicated to Lord Shiva, the temple has two gold plated domes and receive also an annual donation of around 4 to 5 crores that account for its wealthiness. Looted and destroyed several times through history and reconstructed as many times, the main deity is presently housed in a silver altar. Also being one of the twelve Jyotirlingas and among the holiest of Shiva temples, the revered site witnesses a considerable number of devotees doing the temple rounds every day.