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29 Himachal temples hold over four quintals of gold

Shimla: Twenty-nine prominent Hindu temples in Himachal Pradesh, known as the "Land of the Gods", have over four quintals of gold and 158 quintals of silver in their possession, the assembly was informed on Friday.

These temples got cash donations of Rs.283.18 crore from 2011 to 2013.

The shrine of Chintpurni in Una district -- with one quintal and 72 kg of gold and 59 quintals of silver -- is the richest, said Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh, who also holds a language, art and culture portfolio.

The temple got a cash donation of Rs.84.04 crore between 2011 and 2013.

One quintal equals 48.95 kg.

Other rich temple trusts include those of Naina Devi in Bilaspur, Jwalamukhi, Brajeshwari Devi and Chamunda Devi in Kangra district, Bhimakali in Shimla district, Mahamaya Balasundari temple in Sirmaur district and Baba Balak Nath in Hamirpur district.

The hilltop Naina Devi, the second richest temple, has accumulated one quintal and 48 kg of gold and 56 quintals of silver. It got cash offerings of Rs.50.61 crore in the three years.

The Jawalamukhi and Brajeshwari Devi temples have 37 kg and 28 kg of gold, respectively. They got donations of Rs.25.38 crore and 12.61 crore from 2011 to 2013, respectively.

The Baba Balak Nath, Chamunda Devi, Mahamaya Balasundari and Bhimakali temples have 22 kg, 15 kg, 11 kg and 3 kg gold, respectively. Their silver reserves are two quintal, five quintal, 16 quintal and five kg silver, respectively.

The chief minister said these 29 temples have been included in schedule 1 of the Himachal Pradesh Hindu Public Religious Institutions and Charitable Endowments Act of 1984.

Official sources said the state assembly in 2010 allowed state-administered temples to convert into coins the gold and silver they received as donations from devotees and sell it further.

Ten percent of gold can be used for various activities related to the temples, 20 percent can be invested in the State Bank of India's Gold Bond Scheme and 70 percent can be kept in reserve in the temples.

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