TIRUPATI: Karnataka tourism minister and Bellary mine baron Gali Janardhan Reddy will probably be better known for something else: with an offering of a diamond-studded crown worth Rs 42 crore [US$8.8 million], he became the biggest donor to Lord Venkateswara at Tirupati since the Vijayanagara kings 400 years ago.
The 20-kg stunner was a "thanksgiving" gesture, the minister said. Sources added that 32kg of `aparanji (pure)' gold went into its making, besides 70,000 diamonds weighing 4,000 carats. The 2.5-ft crown has a huge 890-carat emerald from Africa engraved in the centre which alone costs around Rs 10 crore.
The crown will be placed upon the Lord's head during Abhishekam seva on Friday morning. It was earlier kept in the Vaibhavotsava Mandapam in Tirumala and special pujas were performed. After a ritual called Sahasra Deepalankara seva, it was taken around on a procession along with the deity, Lord Malayappa Swamy. Around 7pm, the crown was taken inside the sanctum sanctorum.
Keertilal Jewellers of Coimbatore in Tamil Nadu took nine months to fashion the crown.
There are no records of more expensive donations to the temple and Gali's donation is considered as the costliest gift offered to the Lord after the Vijayanagara kings in the 16th century. The Vijayanagara kings ruled from Hampi not far from modern day Bellary.
With this offering, the total number of crowns placed with the Lord has gone up to seven. This precious crown has been added to the jewel treasury of Lord which holds over 11 tonnes of gold ornaments and vessels.
"I am in this position only with the blessings of Lord Venkateswara. This is only a small offering to the Lord. I believe in Madhava seva (service to the Lord)," said Gali, who owns several iron ore mines.
The minister said his Brahmani Steels, once it starts operation, would employ 25,000 people. "This I consider as manava seva (service to mankind)," he said. Andhra Pradesh chief minister YSR Reddy's son Jagan has a large stake in Brahmani Steel that is coming up in the Andhra chief minister's home district.