Rs 24-cr gold chariot ready for trial run in Tirumala

Matter of faith

Rs 24-cr gold chariot ready for trial run in Tirumala

The trial run of the new golden chariot for Lord Venkateswara in Tirumala, whose works are in the final stages, will be organised on Monday.

Briefing media persons, Tirumala-based Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam (TTD) Joint Executive Officer K S Srinivasa Raju said work on the new golden chariot, which the TTD has taken up for Rs 24 crore, is in full swing. The chariot is expected to be ready by Friday.

Raju said:  “This mighty 32-foot tall ‘ratham’ will be unique. About 74kg of gold and 2,900 kg of copper has been used to design this chariot which weighs about 28 tons.”

Eighteen gauge copper sheet and nine layers of gold has been used in the making of this chariot.

After complaints from the devotees that the old chariot was getting dull each year, the TTD decided to alter the silver-coated wooden chariot by applying a gold coat on it.  A wooden model was built for this purpose on which gold work has been done.

Once the chariot is assembled and given gold “malam” (coating), it will be shifted to a specially constructed mandapam before the main temple complex from its current location at the SV museum, which is closely guarded. The chariot was coated with nine layers of gold to make it more dazzling.

Raju said the chariot’s trial-run procession will be held on September 30 at 9:05am. “On that day the chariot will be taken in procession along four mada streets and will be kept inside the newly constructed Swarnaratha mandapam behind Vahana Mandapam,” he said. The JEO complimented the team of 18 goldsmiths from Tamil Nadu on their work on the new “ratham.” 

The contract for the work on the golden chariot was assigned to the Tamil Nadu Handicrafts Development Corporation in 1994.

In 2006, the then TTD executive officer Ajay Kallam took note of the chariot’s losing sheen and instructed it to be cleaned with natural cleansers. As many as 25 people from engineering and garden departments of TTD worked on it for three days.

However, the “ratham” appeared dull again in 2009. During “Brahmotsavams,” the patches of rust and fungus were covered with floral arrangements before the “ratham” was taken out in procession.

With the media highlighting the sparkles chariot, a hasty patchwork of the dull sports with golden paint was done in 2010. As it became public, there was much hue and cry, which again prompted the TTD to deck the “ratham” with gold plates for Rs 3.5 crore in 2011.

Now, they hope the brand new chariot will appeal to the pilgrims who throng the hills for this year’s “Brahmotsavams.”

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