Tirumala Venkateswara Temple
Tirumala Venkateswara Temple. Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Hyderabad: Sri Venkateshwara temple of Tirumala in Andhra Pradesh, the world’s richest Hindu temple, has created a new record for earnings.

The income of the temple from the contributions of the pilgrims for a single month hit a record Rs 1.3 billion (Dh 61.3 million) in the month of May, Tirumala Tirupati Devsthanam (TTD) Executive Officer Dharma Reddy said. “This is the first time in the history of TTD that the temple’s monthly earnings have increased to this level,” he told the media.

The earnings come mainly through the contributions pilgrims drop in the temple’s collection boxes in the form of cash, diamonds, gold and silver jewellery. Many times pilgrims have also donated cows to the temple.

The income of the temple, which had seen a significant decline due to the impact of Covid-19 and lockdown over the last two years, has started rising again as the number of visitors was increasing steadily, officials said.

The income of the temple was hit so badly during the lockdown period that the temple administration had to remove a large number of contract employees.

“In the month of May the number of pilgrims crossed 2.2 million,” Reddy said.

Normally 30 to 40 million pilgrims visit the ancient temple every year. Officials estimate that the temple will earn more than Rs 30 billion during the financial year 2022-2023 ending March 31 next year.

In view of increasing number of pilgrims, TTD has decided to restore the old system of issuing time slot tokens to facilitate performance of rituals by the pilgrims, he said.

At last estimate, the total wealth of the temple stood at more than Rs 13 trillion ($20 billion). It included 8 tons of gold and a large number of properties across the country.