From the land of tales, folklores, spices, and greeneries, there is an undebatable marvel, “Sree Padmanabha Swami Temple”. Kerala is a land with many temples and stories which provide a thick background to them. And with Padmanabha Swami Temple, the stories are so exhilarating that even it makes you think whether it is on earth or in a wonderland! The temple was being served quite ordinary by outsiders like any other in Kerala until the properties/wealth of the temple where found which later became the so called “Treasure”. It was with enormous excitement the world looked at that news. Media from all over the world reported about the scene and named the temple as “The Wealthiest Temple in the World”. This scenario was quite understandable. Like a child who saw the full lit giant wheel at a carnival, the world unitedly saw the temple with same excitement. There was a sudden spike in the number of visitors to the temple. But sadly this time, it wasn’t for paying their respect to their deity, but for a treasure hunt! It took only little time for this excitement to get carved into some world class stories until people heard about the unopened Vault the temple has. The temple has 6 vaults (later named A, B, C, D, E, F) of which one could not be opened-B.
The day this news broke out to the world, unauthentic, fake stories were born. The temple in the prime district of Kerala became a hot sensation in media and all over internet. People wanted to know what was behind the unopened vault. The curiosity slowly transformed into a need to know! After being a sensation, the topic slowly became something out from the people’s mind. They completely forgot the case and scenario. But that didn’t mean to be the end. 3–4 years after these incidents in the year 2011, to be exact during the mid of 2017, Padmanabha Swami Temple went trending again all over the internet. This time, the content creators of YouTube and Blog writers of various forums did it so. The hype was real, and the content they produced seemed very thrilling and attractive. But the thing is that, whichever videos you see, blogs you read, like ants from different colonies they all seemed to be same. Since there wasn’t any other different content from this, the people believed it. And the creators too,didn’t want to go different and followed spiral of silence. These creators sold their content by matching the scene with the story of “Nagabandhana Poottu” (Serpent Lock). They claimed that the Vault B was unopened because of the serpent lock it had, and there were snakes that guard the vault and they are ready to kill anyone trying to open it. They also claim that serpent lock is only accessible by reciting mantras (chants) from “Garuda Puranam” (one of 18 Mahāpurāṇ of texts in Hinduism). But unfortunately, in the contemporary era, it’s nearly impossible to get a saint who can recite chants from Garuda Purana without mistakes!- These claims left people in awestruck and they believed them in no time.
But does this information alone have the power to convince people? Audience believed because, they proved their statements using a photograph. The photograph was indeed powerful and was very apt for the content. A black and white, noisy picture of a door engraved with serpents with terrifying look, ready to attack. The picture hit millions of sites and was part of many discussions. And they considered this very door to be the door of Vault B in the temple. People looked at the picture with all the mysterious looks that something in this context needed. But is this the actual door to Vault B? Or is there any other story behind this door?
To break the code of this picture and door, we must travel quite down the lane to the past. In the year 1880, the Directorate of Fine Arts of France commissioned a sculpture which was to be sculpted by the famous French sculptor Auguste Rodin. Rodin created a monumental sculpture which stands at 6 metres high, 4 metres wide and 1 metre deep (19.7×13.1×3.3 ft) and contains 180 figures. He named it as “The Gates of Hell” that depicts a scene from the Inferno, the first section of Dante Alighieri’s Divine Comedy. It is said that the sculpture took 5 years to get into its first form. Rodin would continue to work on and off on this project for 37 years until his death in 1917.Rodin’s sculpture was later moved to the art gallery after his death. Later in the year 2009, for a contest, a 3D artist named Mario Russo created a 3D model of a door which was inspired by Auguste Rodin’s ‘The Gates of Hell’. Russo used 3dx Max (a professional 3D computer graphics program for making 3D animations, models, games and images) to generate the image and added extra elements to it from his imagination. Adding effects of reality made it more convincing and looked real and old. Finding the roots of this image wasn’t easy for me. There weren’t places in internet where the Padmanabha Swami Temple wasn’t mentioned with this picture. Even simple google/YouTube searches about the temple give at least one result with this creation by Russo. But the fact is that an image that was created just for a contest turned out to be the part of one of the biggest myth and false in the world !
Now, about the story of serpent lock. It seems quite awkward that every content creator turned to create the same content and that too after a specific period. Let me introduce you someone— Ravi Subramanian. Ravi Subramanian is a banker by profession and a well renowned Indian writer too. He has written popular thrillers about banking and bankers, including award-winning trilogy The Incredible Banker, The Bankster and Bankerupt. The ability of his to write thrillers is tremendous and makes anyone to finish the story in one go. But how is he connected to this context? Indeed he is connected. Moreover, it would be apt if I say, he is the prime reason for this context. In the mid of 2017, Ravi Subramanian released his another book in the genre of thriller named “In the Name of God”. The story revolves around the Anantha Padmanabha Swamy Temple in the city of Thiruvananthapuram. It safeguards within its sacrosanct walls centuries of customs and rituals, unimaginable wealth and unwavering calm.The synopsis of the story goes like this- Due to issues happening associated with the wealth of Anantha Padmanabha Swamy Temple, the Supreme Court of India, employs 5 adjudicators to value the wealth that is safeguarded in the temple. The adjudicators, in the regent’s presence, enters the temple and gets to the vaults except B. They could open all the other vaults but not B. It was because the giant massive door engraved with giant terrifying snakes seemed to be so tight as it wasn’t opened for years and also, it didn’t look like an ordinary door. The adjudicators felt weird and asked the Periyanambi (the head Priest) about opening the door. Periyanambi replies the door shouldn't be opened like the other doors because the Nagas guard it (serpents) and can only be opened by reciting chants from Garuda Puranam. After hearing remedy, the adjudicators immediately wanted someone who recite those chants. But the head priest says that those mantras are highly dangerous, and in this century it is impossible to get someone who can recite them without errors. The head priest also says that if not recited properly, it can cause in huge destruction to the temple and the serpents guarding the vault won’t leave anyone alive outside the vault.
Now you know how these trending videos and articles got to know about the Vault B story which is light-years far from the truth of what it is! Even though people see all these fabricated stories, the saddest part is that they believe it right after listening. But who won’t! The way Ravi Subramanian has written it is really enticing and takes anyone to edge of their seat. An absolute thriller it is! And when it gets connected with Mario Russo’s art, it seems to look authentic even though it isn’t. It still sets back a question whether Ravi Subramanian wrote the story by getting inspired by Russo’s art. Even though there are many more stories regarding Sree Padmanabha Swami Temple, this is the most talked one. And this is the only one I found somewhat, somewhere acceptable, while 99% of other stories are out of the world! Anyway, spreading this truth is important to eradicate the false and out of the world stories about the temple which has legacy over 5000 years. But to accept the fact, the false stories will still revolve around the world. Because we are talking about The Sree Padmanabha Swami Temple, THE WEALTHIEST TEMPLE IN THE WORLD.