Swadesh Darshan: Padmanabha Swamy Temple gets facelift

The freshly tiled pavement and traditional lamp posts reflect the traditional grandeur of the Anantha Padmanabhaswamy temple in Thiruvananthapuram dedicated to Lord Mahavishnu.

The famous Anantha  Padmanabhaswamy temple in Thiruvananthapuram is getting a makeover, albeit in line with tradition, and better amenities for pilgrims who throng the shrine from across the country and abroad.

The facelift is happening under the Swadesh Darshan project of the Ministry of Tourism, inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday. The Rs 78.55 crore project is part of the Rs 92.22 crore spiritual circuit project for the Sree Padmanabhaswamy temple, Sabarimala Ayyapa temple and Aranmula Parthasarathy temple. Sabarimala and Aranmula are located in Pathanamthitta district in South Kerala.

The Padmanabhaswamy temple made headlines a few years back after priceless treasures were found in its secret chambers, which were opened on the Supreme Court's order. The main deity of the temple is Lord Mahavishnu in the 'Anantha Shayanam' posture, reclining on a five-headed serpent ‘Anantha’. The average daily pilgrim turnout of the temple is around 2,500.

The temple lacked sufficient amenities for pilgrims and the Swadesh Darshan project seeks to address this need, apart from giving a facelift to the temple.

Restoring the pristine royal look, the pavements around the temple have been paved with granite slabs and traditional street lamps installed. Unauthorised traders encroaching spaces around the temple have been evicted, giving enough free space for pilgrims' movement. 

The temple executive engineer R Sanil Kumar said, in order to avoid future digging of the renovated stretch, the drainage and stormwater systems have been improved and the utility cables relaid through ducts.

The Padmatheertham pond in front of the temple on the eastern side has also been renovated and "purified". The temple authorities are also planning to install a bioremediation waste treatment plant with the support of a Pondicherry-based NGO and the Government Engineering College at Barton Hill in Thiruvananthapuram, in order to ensure that the pond water remains clean always.

Amenities

The pilgrim amenities being introduced are waiting and resting area, toilet block, improved cloakroom, cafeteria, information centre and handloom-handicraft showrooms. A mini hall for conducting temple related meetings or cultural programmes is also being built. Battery operated autorickshaws would ferry pilgrims around the temple grounds, which stretches to around five kilometres.

Renovation work of the pavements around the temple is almost complete. The other works are in advanced stages of completion. "We hope all public amenities could be commissioned in a month," said Kumar.

The temple authorities are also working on projects to increase parking space and set up lodging facility for pilgrims at Killipallam, about two km from the temple. A decade's old granary owned by the temple, made of wood with roof tiles in traditional style, would also be renovated and made a crafts bazar. At present, the granary is being used as dining hall of a marriage auditorium of the temple.

Treasure display

Though there was a proposal for a digital museum displaying the treasures in the temple chambers, it has been put on hold owing to litigations over the rights of the temple. The temple that was under the former Travancore royal family is now under the control of a trust. The district judge is now heading the temple administration.

On any given day, the temple attracts more than  1,000 devotees. The peak season coincides with the November-January pilgrimage season of Sabarimala Ayyappa temple. The number of devotees during this season goes up to 5,000 a day. Most Sabarimala pilgrims from other states like Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh, also visit Padmanabhaswamy temple.

April-May months see a rush of local pilgrims owing to the summer vacation for schools. Similarly, there is considerable rush during the August-September Onam festival. Pilgrims from across the country and abroad visit the temple around the year.

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Swadesh Darshan: Padmanabha Swamy Temple gets facelift

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