Sunday, August 09, 2009

Sripuram, modern day temple ? New age Business ?

Sripuram (Golden Temple South, Vellore) appears to be a money making machine. A modern day business of faith. This is how it came across to me:

- Had herd about this form my friends & though of making a 1 day trip with family there. I was told to be there in the evening.
- Started at 8 AM, via old-madras-road, pass K R Puram. The road is good (managable) & small compared to the Hosur-Krishnagiri stretch. And reached Vellore by 1 PM. Had our lunch & headed towards Sripuram. On the way we spent about 1 hr at the Vellore fort.
- As we reached Sripuram, it appeared to be a fortress. Parked my car & this is where the encounter with the business machine started:
  1. No mobile phones allowed inside.
  2. Foot-ware stand is just a big hall & visitors (I' not sure if all were devotees) have to buy a plastic bag for Rs. 2/- to keep foot-ware of all the family together.
  3. When I tried to reason this with the Public Relation (PR) officer, he appeared very very arrogent.
  4. He told me that the temple is some 1 & 1/2 yrs. old & a foot-ware stand may take another 1 & 1/2 yr.
  5. He was quick to identify that the plastic bag that I purchased is biodegradable.
  6. Upon persisting more, he asked me to get lost if I'm not intereasted to get in & I'm free not to visit.
  7. At 2 PM the crowd was not so huge but still the temple volunteers were discouraging visitors to buy Rs. 100/- entry ticket sighting the reason that free darshan will take 2 hrs waiting.
  8. We bought into the idea & got tickets for 5 of us. Even though it is a clear entrance ticket, it says "seva" & "entry is free". Whom do they want to fool here ?
  9. On our way in, visitors from free queue also got mixed with us & they told the waiting was about 30 min. So I paid my Rs. 500/- for no reason :-(
  10. As expected the -in (& later way-out) passes through their shopping mall seling silk saree, agarbatti, small momentos, & many more articles.

Once you get into the actual temple premises, you feel better & surroundings resemble to any resort. Then you are made to walk the START shaped path, about 1+ KM.

  1. Along this path also, you see more counters selling water then taps with free water.
  2. Many boards boasting about the place. 1 was very intereasting, justifying that spending money for a tourist spot is more important then spending it for building school :-(
  3. The central temple is nice & attractive with gold plating all over. I herd some 300 KG (or tons) of gold is used. I felt sad, that such a huge money can be used for so many more causes :-( Even if it is somebody's BLACK money, can be used for a better cause.
  4. This golden temple is surrounded by water & the pond has 1,000s of Indian currency coins & notes dropped by devotees (?). Again a waste of money & the basic cost of printing these notes. RBI shoudl take a note of this.
  5. I think it is easy to have a small net covering the pond to catch the offerings, but again like the foot-ware stand, I think, they do not have money. Or they want it to be like this for more devotees (?) to see & drop more money there.
  6. A BIG difference that I observed is: depending upon the money shelling capacity of the visitors, they are divided into 3 groups: free, Rs. 100/- & Rs. 250/-. The more you spend the closer you get to the god.

Unlike Tirupati where everybody gets to see the god from same place, & money helps you to spend less or more time in the queue. Here the free queue is all the time kept at a distance from god :-(