Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams (TTD), a trust that manages one of the India's richest temples, holds 5.5 tonne gold worth Rs 1,320 crore at current rates, according to its officials.
The trust has already deposited 4.5 tonne of the precious metal in several banks and it plans to deposit another tonne of gold soon. "Till date, 4.5 tonnes of gold have been deposited in various banks including the State Bank of India, Indian Overseas Bank and the Corporation Bank. We plan to deposit another tonne gold in SBI shortly," TTD executive officer D Sambasiva Rao told The Times of India.
However, the reported gold holdings of 5,500 kg may be only a "partial estimate of the total wealth" of TTD, according to temple sources. The gold deposited by TTD comes from the offerings made by devotees in the temple and in the form of donations by wealthy people. Devotees offer gold in the form of ornaments and bars.
The trust started depositing gold in 2010 and the interest earned on such deposits is again converted into gold and kept in banks.
The 4.5 tonne of yellow metal deposited in the banks yields around 80 kg of pure gold annually in the form of interest, according to the officials.
TTD had deposited gold in three tranches in 2010, 2011 and 2014, taking the overall deposits to 4.5 tonne. The temple administration had deposited 1,800kg in August 2014 with the SBI, making it the single largest deposit so far.
"This time, we are working out the modalities to deposit the gold with SBI. The TTD will get gold as interest instead of cash," said Rao.