Andhra Pradesh's Tirumala temple officials deny jewellery theft

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Tirupati (Andhra Pradesh), July 2 (ANI): Officials at Andhra Pradesh's famous Tirumala temple that has been receiving donations dating back to the 16th century have denied reports of missing jewellery.

The eight-feet-tall idol of Lord Venkateshwara in Tirumala town here stands bedecked with glittering jewels and already has four gold crowns; one of them is believed to be donated by Krishnadeva Raya, the 16th-century ruler of Vijayanagar kingdom.

Refuting reports published in vernacular dailies that some of the jewellery was either lost or melted, the authorities said the Temple Board did not exist in the 16th century, and hence they did not have records to prove the dating of the gold and other items donated to the temple.

"The donations received by the temple long ago are not under our authority. However, I can tell you that no gold is stolen. There is no record that this was given by Krishnadeva. The previous officials did not keep a track of it," said I. Y. R. Krishna Rao, Executive Officer of Tirupati Tirumala Devasthanams.

"We will sit with the archaeologists and temple staff to ascertain the period of the donated gold. Once we get it, we will register it in our records," he added.

Meanwhile, State Bank of India (SBI) Chairman O. P. Bhatt said the country's economy would be strengthened if the gold is deposited with the Reserve Bank of India (RBI).

"Possibly as some of these gold finds its way to the Reserve Bank of India, our reserves will go up, the country will be stronger," said Bhatt. (ANI)

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