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To Whom Does Temple Wealth Belong? A Historical Essay on Landed Property in Travancore


  • K. N. Ganesh

    (Department of History, University of Calicut,


The enormous wealth stored in the Sree Padmanabha Swamy temple of Thiruvananthapuram, the component items of which were classified and enumerated under the direction of the Supreme Court of India in June 2011, sparked off a major debate on the nature of temple wealth, and on the rights of the temple, the royal family that controlled the temple, and the people as a whole. The issues that have figured in the current controversy can be addressed only by means of study of the history of the growth of temples and their wealth. The Padmanabha temple, where the present hoard has been discovered, is a case in point. In the medieval context, the transformation of landed social wealth into temple wealth impelled the emergence of the temple as a source of social power, one that even kings were forced to recognise. Ultimately, whether described as divine wealth or social wealth, this wealth belongs to the people as the proceeds of their labour. The millions hoarded in the Padmanabha temple are the historical legacy of the millions who have tilled the soil and laboured on the earth for at least a millennium, and shall go back to them and their inheritors.

Suggested Citation

  • K. N. Ganesh, 2013. "To Whom Does Temple Wealth Belong? A Historical Essay on Landed Property in Travancore," Journal, Review of Agrarian Studies, vol. 3(1), pages 1-13, January-J.
  • Handle: RePEc:fas:journl:v:3:y:2013:i:1:p:1-13

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