The Padmanabhaswamy Temple is one of India’s most popular and most sacred temples. Located in Thiruvananthapuram in Kerala, India, it is one of the most visited temples in the country. However, inside its heavily-guarded gates is a locked room with supposedly hidden treasures and for sure a deadly legend. And in order to understand the mystery behind the Padmanabhaswamy Temple, one must learn about its history.
The Padmanabhaswamy Temple is one of 108 temples of Vaishnavism or the worship of Vishnu. The Temple has been mentioned as early as the 6th Century in ancient Tamil literature, with renovations occurring in the 16th Century.
Sri Padmanabha, the central Vishnu icon, reclines on the serpent Anantha or Adi Sesha. This pose is highly unlike the portraits of Vishnu in other temples, where the deity is depicted standing. The Adi Sesha in The Padmanabhaswamy Temple has five hoods facing inwards, which symbolizes contemplation.
The Temple’s name is taken from the word “Padmanabha,” which means, “One emerging from the lotus.” This is illustrated well on the Sri Padmanabha icon, which has the deity Brahma emerging from Vishnu’s navel on a lotus.
The entire icon is carved out on a massive stone measuring 20 feet high and 2.5 feet thick. Onlookers cannot see the icon from only one of the open doors of the Temple. In fact, one has to look through three doors from the outside in order to see the icon in its full glory.
The shrine is currently run by a trust headed by the royal family of Travancore. The trust itself was established as early as 1729. The temple and its assets belonged to Lord Padmanabhaswamy and the Travancore Royal Family.
However, recent events took the trust away from the family. This decision from the Indian Supreme Court not only uncovered the treasure inside the Temple but revealed one of its most sacred mysteries.
In 2011, Sunder Rajan has filed a case to the Supreme Court appealing that the Travancore Royal Family has mismanaged the assets in The Padmanabhaswamy Temple. As a result of the proceedings, the Supreme Court appointed a seven-member committee to explore the Temple and document its many belongings.
What they discovered were six enormous secret vaults that appear to house many of the Temple’s treasures. The doors were made of iron, and lack locks, hatches, or any form of openings. This is what made the chambers very mysterious, even to the eyes of the public.
Upon opening, the Temple appears to have at least 22 billion dollars’ worth of golden idols, elephants, necklaces, and coins. They also discovered an assortment of jewels, ceremonial costumes, and solid gold coconut shells studded with jewels.
The most impressive of the gems were large diamonds, some of which were even a hundred and ten carats. Some archaeologists and gemologists estimated that a small gold idol of Vishnu from the Temple could very well easily cost 30 million dollars.
Visitors today would see metal detectors, security cameras, and more than 200 guards protecting the Temple and its treasures. However, it seems they are tasked to guard something else – something that even the government may not want to be unveiled.
Chamber B: The sixth door
The Padmanabhaswamy Temple has six enormous secret vaults that contained its many treasures. These were named Chambers A through F. The seven-member committee was able to open five of these vaults, with exceptional difficulty.
They have been able to open and reopen chambers C through F through the years. It was said the committee was able to visit these chambers for at least eight times. Chamber A took a bit of time to open. The impressive architecture of the Temple was evident in the door’s construction. It took more than a day to open Chamber A with existing human technology.
Regardless of these efforts, all but one of the six vaults were accessed – the mysterious Chamber B.
In fact, Chamber B is not part of the documented Temple Treasury. No one knows what lies beyond its gates. It is said that the chamber is holy in nature, as it houses an idol of Sri Padmanabha and many valuables of mystic origins. It is said that the chamber may very well have walls of solid gold. It may even contain the largest undiscovered treasure in world history.
Unfortunately, the only thing people have seen is its gates, guarded by two enormous embossed cobras. In fact, aside from these, the steel door of Chamber B does not have and bolts, latches, or other means of entry.
Much to the fascination of the committee members, Chamber B has in fact three doors. The first one has metal grills on it. It is the one visible to the naked eye, and is accessible like the other chambers. However, they discovered a second wooden door behind it. Upon unlocking this door came yet another door, a menacing door made of iron that was slammed shut. There appears to be no way of getting through it.
It is said that any human attempts are made with technology to open the door will unleash an unspeakable calamity in the city. Some even say opening the door against its will can release unspeakable horrors throughout India, and perhaps the rest of the world.
The urban legend surrounding the Padmanabhaswamy Temple begins with the seven-member committee. It is said that some of the members have fallen ill while trying to open Chamber B. Another member has apparently lost his mother while investigating the Temple’s hidden treasure.
Sunder Rajan, the one who filed the case to re-assess the Temple’s treasures in the first place, also died a few years later.
There is very little evidence to suggest a relationship between these events to Chamber B. However, this is eerily similar to other events concerning ancient artifacts. The infamous Hope Diamond was said to cause great calamity to the person who currently owns the stunning piece of jewelry. Unfortunately, it seems an even bigger mystery surrounds Chamber B.
Legends say that Marthanda Varma of the Travancore Royal Family arranged for the creation of the six chambers. Of the six vaults, Chamber B was affixed with a special spell by hundreds of Sidda Purushas and tantriks, or religious officials, from different regions.
The legends add that only a high-level Sadhus or priest familiar with chanting what is known as the Garuda Mantra can open the Chamber. If this is to be believed, then some Yogic power is protecting whatever is inside of Chamber B.
Some say Chamber B is directly linked to the ocean floor. Anyone who attempts to open the door by force will be met by a torrent of ocean water. Its force is said to be capable of flooding the entire city of Kerala.
Others also say that Chamber B may have some hidden trick. It is quite possible that there is a hidden tunnel beneath the chamber. This will allow its architects to lock the chamber from the inside. At the same time, this method will not allow anyone to access the chamber from the outside. If this is true, then people who knew of the secret tunnel may have been plundering the chamber without anyone noticing.
Regardless, the High Court of India has issued a warning against opening the doors of the chamber. This is possibly due to the repercussions of trying to go against the will of the Naga Bandham guarding Chamber B.
However, just what is the Naga Bandham, and how is this related to the supposed treasure in the temple?
The Naga Bandham is said to the power that is protecting Chamber B. Tourists or foreigners who have heard of this phrase will be looking at a more intricate aspect of Hinduism.
The Naga Bandham is also called a snake-binding spell. A successful spell will have various serpentine deities guard the treasure of a particular place. This is also the reason why there are various snake idols worshipped in temples around the country. In fact, the deity Vishnu is also often depicted riding a snake. There are also special parts of the temple dedicated to these snake deities.
However, the prevalence of snake deities and figures is not exclusive to Indian culture. Ancient cultures such as the Greeks and the Egyptians also feature serpentine and reptilian creatures. In Greek culture, a “dragon” is some form of a superior snake. Even Egyptians have deities such as the protector goddess Wadjet who has the head of a snake and the chaos god Apep who appears as a snake.
The Naga Bandham is Chamber B is said to be unlocked by special sound waves. Some say the lock inside the door can be accessed through sound. Given the right frequency, the sound waves will be amplified and “connect” to the links inside the door. Continuous exposure to the sound will have the links interact and eventually open Chamber B.
If another person tries to open the door with a different spell, or the same spell with the wrong intonation, the sound waves are directed somewhere else. Perhaps this can cause a trap to be opened or, in the case of Chamber B, the aforementioned calamity.
No one knows what lies inside The Padmanabhaswamy Temple and its secret Chamber B. No one has chanted the Garuda Mantra correctly up to this day, and the order of the Supreme Court against opening Chamber B still stands.
Are the legends surrounding Chamber B true? Will there be an unspeakable calamity once its doors are opened by force? Or will there be someone who can chant the spell correctly and give access to its rumored treasure?