Kerala temple ‘lost’ rare paintings too

via PNS | THIRUVANANTHAPURAM published on September 5, 2011

Close on the heels of the reports that a part of the amazing collection of gold ornaments at the Sri Padmanabha Swamy temple at Thiruvananthapuram could have been smuggled out, new reports have come out indicating that several invaluable paintings kept at the shrine had been lost in recent past.

Though employees of the temple had complained about the loss of these invaluable paintings, including some by Raja Ravi Varma, in 2007 the complaint was allegedly neglected, a report quoting documents said. The lost pieces of art have been categorized as rare and historically and religiously important.

Temple manager P Sreekantan Nair and 17 of his colleagues had on September 24, 2007 lodged a complaint with the Fort Police Station in Thiruvananthapuram about the “loss”. Copies of the complaint had been submitted to the Director General of Police and Thiruvananthapuram City Police Commissioner but no follow-up action was said to have been taken.

The lost pieces of art included four Ravi Varma paintings kept in the temple office, oil paint portraits of late Maharaja Chithira Thirunnal and the queen mother and pictures of Lord Padmanabha and 108 Vaishnavite temples, it is said. The employees had said in the complaint that a senior official was seen taking away the pieces of art in a car.

A lawyers’ commission appointed by a Thiruvananthapuram court in 2007 had reported the loss of part of the gold kept in one of the six cellars of the Sri Padmanabha Swamy temple. However, temple authorities and people close to the erstwhile Travancore royal family, traditional trustees of the temple, alleged that the panel’s report was motivated and unreliable.

In the meantime, the five-member experts’ panel and the three-man supervisory committee appointed by the Supreme Court to document, evaluate and categorize the treasures found in five of the six cellars at the temple, which hold valuables worth over Rs 100,000 crore, are to hold a joint meeting on Tuesday to decide on the schedule for its task.

The meeting is also expected to take a decision on opening Vault B, second of the six vaults at the temple comlex, and examining its contents. The ex-royal family, Hindu outfits and the worshippers community are opposing this saying it could enrage the deity. A Deva Prasnam (astrological examination) held recently also had warned against opening Vault B.

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