• Friday, December 09, 2022

HEADLINE STORY

At £26 billion, Tirupati Balaji temple one of India’s richest

By: Chandrashekar Bhat

Tirupati Balaji temple, one of India’s richest temples, has declared its total wealth at close to £26 billion.

In a white paper issued recently, the temple said it had 10.3 tonnes of gold and bank deposits of £17 billion.

The Tirupati Tirumala Devasthams, the trust which runs the temple, said its fixed deposits stood at $19.44 bn (£16.42 bn) including the $3.5 bn (£2.96bn) collected since 2019.

All gold donations were sent to the government mint under a monetisation scheme, it said.

The net worth of Tirupati temple is more than the market capitalisation of IT services firm Wipro, food and beverage company Nestle and state-owned oil giants ONGC and IOC.

Located in the southern state of Andhra Pradesh, it has 960 properties across India. Hundreds of thousands of devotees visit the religious place every day. On Saturday, more than 73000 pilgrims visited the temple. Its income comes from donations from devotees.

The temple, built in about 300 AD, is dedicated to the Hindu God of Vishnu. The structure represents south Indian architecture.

There is a belief among many Hindus that they should visit the temple for spiritual fulfilment.

“It attracts worshippers from every corner of the country,” political commentator Parsa Venkateshwar Rao Jnr told The Times.

“People don’t come once, they come again and again, for every special occasion”, he said adding, “it defeats rational explanation but it fulfils a need in Hindus.”

Along with Padmanabha temple in southern India, Vaishno Devis shrine in the north and Janagannatha temple in the east of the country, Tirupati temple ranks among the richest religious places in India and the world.

The ancient religious structure is also known as the “rich man’s temple” because of its popularity with industrialists and wealthy film stars.

India’s second richest man and Reliance Industries chairman Mukesh Ambani visited Tirumala recently ahead of the rollout of the company’s 5G mobile service. The tycoon was accompanied by his family members.

When veteran Hindi actor Amitabh Bachchan turned 80 recently, his son Abhishek visited the place.

Similarly, on June 10, 2022 Bollywood actor Deepika Padukone offered her prayers at Lord Venkateswara Temple in Tirupati on the occasion of her father and former Badminton player Prakash Padukone’s 67th birthday.

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