Value, antiquity of 18 tonnes of temple coins being assessed

Filed on November 27, 2011

HYDERABAD — The Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam (TTD), the body which runs the affairs of the country’s richest temple, has initiated an exercise to assess the value and antiquity of nearly 18 tonnes of old Indian and foreign coins, several of them from Arab countries, collected in its hundis (donation boxes) over the past years.

TTD Executive Officer L V Subramanyam said a team of numismatists — coin experts — have been pressed into service to assess their value for disposal at a later date after taking into account its antiquity. “The coin experts drawn from Archeological Survey of India and the state archeology have already begun the exercise and are expected to complete the scrutiny and assessment by November 29,” he said.

Stating that the huge stock of coins were being categorised on the basis of metal, country and size, he said the coins were made from copper, bronze and steel and had its origins in countries like the US, Malaysia, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Australia, New Zealand, United Kingdom, South Africa, Canada, Nepal, Thailand and Arab countries. “The foreign origin coins weigh approximately six tonnes,” he said.

Subramanayam said that based on the number of antique coins, the TTD was mulling over a programme to set up galleries in prominent museums across the country for display of its coin collection. “We want to utilise the opportunity to showcase Sanatana Dharma through coins by setting up such galleries in museums across the country,” he said.

The TTD has also taken up cleaning of copper plates containing Annamaiah kirtans composed by saint poet Tallapaka Annamacharya (1408-1503), who had penned over 32,000 kirtans in praise of Lord Venkateswara. These kirtans were engraved on 2698 copper plates by his son Tallapaka Pedda Tirumalacharya and were preserved in sanctum sanctorum of Tirumala shrine.

Meanwhile, according to preliminary estimates, the value of 162 precious stones, mostly diamonds, which were offered by an unknown devotee last week, would be around Rs15 million.

“The exact figure would be known only after the evaluation report is received from the jewellery section of the TTD,” Subramanyam said, adding that a purchase certificate of the precious stones was also found in the hundi along with the precious stones. —

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