The world famous Tirupati Balaji temple or the Sri Venkateshwara temple in Andhra Pradesh is undoubtedly the richest Hindu temple in the world. Even then, the recent revelation by the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanaam (TDD) about the number of pure gold reserves has stunned many.
According to TTD, the temple has 7,235 kg of pure gold deposited in two nationalized banks under multiple gold deposit schemes. Apart from that it also has 1,934 kg yellow metal in its treasury which also includes 1,381 kg gold that it recently received from the Punjab National Bank after the end of a three-year term gold deposit scheme.
It means that the Tirupati Balaji temple owns around 9,000 kg of gold in total.
TTD Looking For Gold Deposit Schemes That Offer Best Returns
According to the TTD Board, they have not yet decided about depositing the 1,381kg gold that it recently received from PNB. At present, the highest decision-making body at the Tirupati temple is going through various gold deposit schemes currently available. It will ultimately deposit the gold in the scheme that offers best returns.
Out of the 553 kg gold that is a regular part of the treasury of TTD, most of them include small pieces of jewelry and other gold items offered by the devotees. The body of TTD rarely reveals such details about the gold reserves in possession with the temple.
However, the controversy triggered off after a PNB truck carrying 1,381 kg of the yellow metal was seized while it was moving from the Chennai branch to Tirupati.
TTD’s Initial Denial And Defense
The election authorities seized the truck on April 17 in the Tiruvallur district of Tamil Nadu during vehicle checking as the place was to have elections the next day. The controversy sparked further when TTD initially refused to accept that the seized gold belongs to the temple.
After several rows of allegations, the authorities defended their statement saying that they cannot call it the gold of the temple until it reaches their treasury.
The PNB submitted all the details and documents to the Income Tax department and proved that the gold belongs to the Tirupati temple and that it was being transported to Tirupati since the gold deposit scheme tenure was completed. The gold reached the temple two days after it was seized in Tamil Nadu.
The details about the gold reserves were revealed by the TTD executive officer Anil Kumar Singhal whereas L V Subramanyam, the Chief Secretary asked for a probe regarding the lapses in the transportation and release of the gold.
Details Of Gold Deposits Of Tirupati Temple
Incidentally, in 2016, the Tirupati Balaji temple has deposited 1,311 kg gold with the Punjab National Bank. It got an interest of 70 kg of gold from the bank making it 1,381 kg pure gold. Similarly, TTD has kept its 5,387 kg gold with the State Bank of India whereas 1,938 kg gold is with the Indian Overseas Bank.
TTD started keeping its gold in nationalized banks under different gold deposit schemes two decades ago. Its planing changed after the Reserve Bank of India in 2015 declared gold monetization. Since then the authorities at the Tirupati temple have been depositing gold reserves under various short, medium, and long term deposit schemes but only in public-sector banks.
The primary reason behind making deposits in public-sector banks is that according to an amendment the central banks pay them the interest in the form of gold. And TTD is interested in only adding gold to its treasure it seems.
TTD Expecting Revenue Of 3,116 Crore In 2019
The Tirupati Balaji Temple is believed to have been constructed sometime during 300 AD. More than 50,000 to 1 lakh pilgrims visit it every day and the number goes up to 4 to 5 lakh during annual festivals and Brahmotsavam. The officials say that the devotees offer cash, silver and gold jewelry, deemat shares, and property deeds.
Every year the Tirupati temple earns Rs.1,000 to Rs,1,200 crores from the offering of the devotees or the Hundi collections.
The officials are expecting to collect an overall revenue of around Rs.3,116 crore in 2019 that will include Rs.1231 crores in the offerings and Rs.846 crores from the interest on its deposits in private and nationalized banks.
Speculations suggest that the temple has more than Rs.12,000 crores in fixed deposits of different banks and earns 100 kg gold in the form of interest against its gold deposits in the banks.
Importantly, no one has any idea about the actual wealth of the temple as these statistics do not include the jewelry of gold and diamonds adorned by the Balaji and the processional idols. Many believe this jewelry to be around hundreds of crores.