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Tuesday, February 1, 2011

It flowed gold down Swarnamukhi at Srikalahasti

Do you know the story of “Thinnan”  ??

I had on more than couple of occasions shared with you the ‘lure of yellow metal’ and the need for some investment in this.  The Economic theory of ‘consumer surplus’ would perhaps get defeated all the time for this commodity alone.  It is a theory which measures the amount that consumer benefits by being able to purchase a product for a price less that the most that one is willing to pay.  In Gold, invariably, it is purchase and then grudging payment by the hapless husband….

The Angel’s Law of Family Expenditure which  states of the decreasing % of money spent on necessities when the economic well being increases would also find it difficult to accept ‘what they would view as luxury (gold) is perceived as basic necessity by some’.  If one were to weigh the cost-utility analysis, again the cost of this yellow metal would not have much of justification.  But people continue to crowd T Nagar and other chowks  for purchasing the metal with chemical element Au – Latin aurum ‘gold’.   The native yellow metal is attractive and does not corrode – women are extremely enamoured by jewels made of it.  

For ages, gold coins have been in vogue – many a times as currency or value for exchange primarily due to its intrinsic value.  Now a days gold coins flood market at collector’s souvenir or merely as a means of investment by many.  

To a devout Hindu,  visiting divine temples at various places – pilgrimmage  is of great importance.  You could have noticed that in many places when train is on a river bridge, some drop coins into river and sometimes in ponds, rivers and other sacred waters as it is considered holy to offer gold to river.  In some places, youngsters keep searching the river bed and dive in to the waters searching for gold and other coins.  There have been reports of rare coins found in river beds.  The coins of satvahana age had been found in  Godavari basin; sangam age coins in the banks of Amaravathi in Karur and more.  In olden times, rich people used to stash parts of their wealth and sometimes they would remain buried or get washed away and land in the hands of ‘fortunate’!!

There have been various films based on ‘hidden treasure hunts’ – the recent hilarious comedy ‘Irumbukkottai Murattu Singam” starring Lawrence Raghavendraa was one such adventure parody of western adventure films.    The one that would immediately strike one’s mind is “Mackenna’s Gold’ released in 1969 starring Gregory Peck, Omar Shariff and others.  It was based on the novel by Heck Allen.  It was a film on the lure of gold corrupting diverse group of people.  The story line is that of an old legend of a fortune of hidden gold guarded by spirits.  Alongside several others Marshal Mackenna goes in pursuit getting possession of a map that has clues to the treasure.

There is another legend of Yamashita gold – alleged war loot stolen in southeast Asia by Japanese forces during WW II and hidden in caves in Phillippines – named after Japanese General Tomoyuki Yamashita, nicknamed "The Tiger of Malaya". Though its existence is disputed, it has lured treasure hunters from around for over fifty years.  The non-existent treasure has even been subject of a complex lawsuit that was filed in a Hawaiian state court in 1988 involving  former Philippines president, Ferdinand Marcos.

Coming back, the coins have remained significant in Indian history as treasure troves.  Local legends of farmer hitting gold pot whilst ploughing galore.  In ancient times, the finder of the treasure was the owner and in some laws, it was the property of the King with some share for the finder.  Reportedly according to Manu, the King obtains one half of the hoard.    Interestingly, there was an enactment -  Indian Treasure Trove Act, 1878 which authorized Govt. to claim possession of any treasure unearthed that exceeded ten rupees in value.  This Act is still in force in various States as modified in Sept. 1949.   the Act defines  “treasure” to mean anything of any value hidden in the soil, or in anything and whenever such treasure is found, the finder has to notify the Collector in writing.  

Swarnamukhi  is a river of southern India flowing near the famous pilgrim centre of Sri kalahasti in Chittoor district of Andhra.  It has major Saivaite shrines along its course.  The temple of Sri Kalahastheeswarar and his consort Gnana Prasunambika Devi is a very important Shaivaite temple and is believed to be the site where Kannappa Nayanar (Thinnan) offered both his eyes to cover the blood flowing from the Shivalingam.  It is closer to Tirupathi and the temple where the Lord is in vayu form is known as Dakshina kailasam.  This temple is believed to be built during Pallava period with structures added by Kulothunga Chola and Krishnadevarayar.   The name of the place comes from three animals, Sri (spider), Kala (snake) and Hasti (elephant) who worshipped Shiva and gained salvation here.

Of late this place has been in the news ...........  the present one being the huge cache of gold in the river Swarnamukhi.   There are reports in local papers that Revenue Officials seized 1,800 Gold or other highly valuable glittering coins weighing about 3 kilos 800 grams, from a fisherman when he was found selling the coins at a Gold Smith shop.  Reportedly, those coins had entangled in the fish net in the Swarnamukhi river.  The coins are bearing Queen Victoria portrait on it with the year 1891 in print.
In Sanskrit, the river  ‘Swarnamuki’ itself means Golden river.  There are many theories floating around of the treasure that the ordinary man got struck to his net. This has led to hundreds of people, dipping and diving into the river in pursuit of more coins.  The gold coins that were found are being examined by the Revenue authorities for finding out their historical background and to check their real value.  

In case you are planning to go to Srikalahasti for having darshan of the Lord – it is around 115 km from Chennai and would take less than 3 hours by car.  One route is going in NH5 – 27 km Cholavaram – 22 km – Gummidipoondi – 19 km Tada – turn left on SH 49 and within 50 km is Sri Kalahasti.  One can also go through Puzhal, Navarikuppam, Cholavaram, Nagalapuram, Puttur, Renigunta, Erpedu and Srikalahasti.  There are frequent buses from Koyambedu also.

Regards – S.Sampathkumar.


  1. Very Interesting indeed, and very enlightening...guess i have to run...the bus to sri kalahasthi leaves in 20 minutes...)

  2. Dear Vinzee, I followed and read your post on Raghavan and numbers, which was quite interesting. Why did you stop with a solitary post and wrote none after that - Sampath

  3. Ran out of time...or creative energy...I dont know...But, i will start again, soon...

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