THIRUVANANTHAPURAM, India – After the treasure trove was unearthed in the Sree Padmanabha Swamy Temple, the number of foreign and domestic tourists visiting the temple has increased manifold, making it a hotspot for pilgrimage tourists.
The temple administration estimates that there has been a 50 per cent-increase in the devotees, with 75 per cent of them being domestic tourists. As non-Hindus are not allowed to enter the temple, many foreign tourists who arrive to sneak a peek inside the temple return after clicking some photographs from outside and visiting the nearby Kuthiramalika.
“After the news spread about the temple wealth, we are witnessing a huge flow of both foreign and domestic tourists coming to visit the temple. Many foreign tourists have come to us asking for permission to enter the temple. But we cannot grant them the permission as per the tradition, only Hindus are allowed to offer ‘darshan’ inside the temple,” said V K Harikumar, executive officer, Sree Padmanabha Swamy Temple.
The number of foreign and domestic tourists visiting the temple has increased manifold.
He said that there is about 50 per cent- increase in the people visiting the temple, particularly on holidays. Of these, about 75 per cent are from outside the state who come here after learning about the temple wealth.
Benedict Wilfred, a hotelier at Kovalam, said that after the unearthing of the temple treasure, Sree Padmanabha Swamy Temple has deferentially found a place in the global tourism map.
“The Sree Padmanabha Swamy Temple might have invited national and international attention. But, as foreigners are not allowed inside the temple, the tourists are opting to visit the Madurai Meenakshi Temple. It is not the wealth of the temple, but its architectural beauty that attracts the foreign tourists. But there is a steep rise in the number of North Indians visiting the temple,” he said.
But for those who depend on the flow of tourists to the temple, the shopkeepers, the rise in number of tourists is not translating into business. Sukumaran Nair, the owner of Sreepadam Handicrafts, said: “As tourists are told to leave the place immediately after offering prayers, none would stay back to shop. In the wake of the City Corporation’s ban on erecting temporary shades in front of the shops, wooden artifacts, if put on display outside, will crack in the scorching sun. Displaying materials is the only way to attract foreigners to buy them.”
Even though traditional wear is compulsory inside the temple, the handloom outlet near the temple does not expect much sales during the season, said M N Padmanabhan, the owner of Padmanabha handlooms, in front of the temple.