Even now the  members of the Travancore royal family come across as typical Malayali personages being clad in spotless white mundu for men and a female version thereof for the distaff side .Temple visit every morning is an invariable ritual of their everyday life and the temple isn’t any and every frequented at random .Sree Padmanaba Swami Temple forms that place of mandatory visit to every member of the royal family starting from the reigning monarch [a misnomer though – the country having long out lived monarchic rule ] down to the toddler scion and hence a daub of the temple sandal paste ornates the array of royal foreheads .

But the temple itself is a colossal let down. Its towering frontal gopuram and stone built inner structure etc conform to Tamil temple architectural style, a gross departure from a typical Kerala traditional temple construction model. This dichotomy remained unexplained to me as I paid yet another visit to the famed Vaishnava temple on a February late morning. The mercury had already scaled several notches rendering the entire temple precinct scorching. The temples of Tamilnadu place no restrictions on the devotees especially in sartorial matters. But those that dot the Kerala region place tighter restrictions in that men should enter the temple mundu clad [pants etc an unassailable taboo] leaving the torso patently uncovered. But who are in mundu these days as they go about their daily chore? The lord being a consummate and seasoned troubleshooter [if mythological lore is anything to go by] offers solution to this mundane [pun unintended] problem too. While my spouse and brood [two girls]  who  basked in the glory of their apparel permissiveness waited it out I made my lateral entry to an overcrowded enclosure where the hapless men folk found themselves disrobe and then enrobe themselves with off white mundus [procured on lease ] .

The exterior look of the temple was very deceptive for it sprawled extensively inside .Despite being unalloyedley stone built it was very cool inside and the temperature outside seemed to be related to the same inside in markedly inverse proportion. The temple staffers looked overfed but were agile for their portly frames. Recumbent Padmanabha is seen in three segments. In the curtailed visibility of the sanctum Santorum even at noon I could catch sight of his gigantic golden hand only and it made an awesome sight.

The temple has catapulted itself to limelight [global at that]in the wake of a court ordered unearthing and inventorying of its fabulous riches which as of now run to 90000 crores in gold jewellery items, golden temple articles etc  . As I took the steps down from the elevated darshan spot it caught my fancy to ask one of the temple guards [exceptionally hefty and ominous looking] about the place on the temple premises where precious articles were reportedly kept. But I had to confront a legion of redoubtable naysayers when I attempted a tentative sounding out of my family about my pet project. Snubbed I walked ahead silent. As I reached by the side of a guard [the place teemed with such apparitions] my guard lowered in spite of myself and I shot off my proscribed query at him. Caught off guard my people waited with batted breath. The man unperturbedly flashed a subtle smile and showed us the place which happened to be quite nearby. The storage point was a disappointment. It didn’t look its global fame. The prime vault [Billed B Vault] locationalised directly under the idol of the core deity waits for forensic clearance for disembowelment. Experts [Multi discipline] think that this is going to be the emperor vault which would surpass the hither to unraveled battery of sub terrestrial vaults in respect of magnitude and value of content.

We took several walks around, much beyond the ritualistically needed three. The sheer cool of even the narrow walkway [stone roofed] which ran through the vast expanse of clean white sands [where solar and terrestrial radiations essayed one-upmanship] made the tread a loves labor.

Array of pillars on both sides supported the heavy stone roof and the entire structure sported supple stone carvings looking celebrant timelessly. The temple built some 12centuries ago and extensively renovated in 1750 under the watch of the illustrious Marthanda Varma holds eternal fascination for the ardent devotee of god, art and the asp rational yellow metal.