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The famed Padmanabhaswamy temple dedicated to Lord Vishnu, the creator of the universe, in Thiruvananthapuram, in the state of Kerala, has fascinated India for many years. In centuries past, kings and dynasties had donated gold and jewels to the temple, sometimes weighing crown princes approaching adulthood and donating an equivalent weight in gold. It was rumored that these treasures are still hidden inside secret vaults beneath the ancient temple.

Nobody knows how old the temple really is. Some scholars say it was established over 5,000 years ago. Even as early as 2,500 years ago, Padmanabhaswamy temple was known for its unimaginable wealth. The temple is mentioned in several Hindu texts belonging to the period between 500 BC to 300 AD, wherein it was referred to as the "Golden Temple". Ancient Tamil literature and poetry refer to the temple and even the city as having walls of pure gold.

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Padmanabhaswamy Temple, the richest temple in the world. Photo credit: Luke Appleby/Flickr

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