Kattu Venkata Ramana Dikshitulu, the head priest of Lord Sri Kodanda Ramaswamy temple and a father of three daughters admitted his guilt after being questioned by the TTD officials.
“I know I have committed a crime. I have three daughters and poverty forced me to do this," the priest said.
The priest confessed of having stolen the money two years ago to and mortgaged it to pay back the moneylenders.
“The priest has confessed to the theft. He claims he would have got the necklace back in a few months by repaying the debt," a TTD official said.
A case has been booked against the priest.
The Venkateswara shrine is adorned with ornaments worth 12 tonnes of gold and diamond jewellery worth Rs 52,000.