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An economic analysis of Shri Laxmi Narasimha Swamy temple of Yadadri in Telangana – A case study

In modern times, temples should be seen as an important player in local and community development, especially since temple spirits are seen as having a legal identity because they still have economic resources and land that are controlled by religious trusts. — Dr. S. Lingamurthy & Ms. Shivanjali Shukla


In Bharat, temples serve as the utmost symbols of faith and spirituality. In addition to serving a variety of other purposes, temples have made a far larger contribution to the accumulation, distribution, redistribution, and mobilization of commodities. In the past, rulers would lavishly donate to temples; today, society has turned these religious temples into vast treasuries of wealth, including land, jewelry, and financial assets, making them powerful economic institutions that directly and indirectly support the livelihoods of millions of people. Due to their encouragement of Dharma-based economic activities, temples have traditionally played a significant role in advancing their constituents’ spiritual and financial well-being, and temples serve as key institutions in the dissemination of Vedic thought.

In modern times, temples should be seen as an important player in local and community development, especially since temple spirits are seen as having a legal identity because they still have economic resources and land that are controlled by religious trusts. Telangana State Temples have been part of the growth of their communities in many ways for several hundreds of years. Temples give their towns and cities specific symbolic identities, bring in tourists and investors from outside, help shape the way modern cities look, limit how the land can be used, and are often given land on which economic activities are put in place (Trouillet, 2017). Also, ancient and modern temples can help small towns to grow and progress, even though geography and other factors too always play a big role in it. Historically from ancient times, India talks about the holistic development of its people, which is based on Dharmanomics (Economics based on Dharma), and the temples provide a livelihood to people living in and around the temple. Temples also create their own network economy through the pilgrims’visits from one temple to another temple.

Vendors’ data analysis and interpretation

The pattern of shops or vendors, their source of existence, and their socio-economic conditions such asvendors’ age group, caste component, gender, education and their house ownership status. Total of 49 vendors have respondents responded to the research team during the study. The majority of the vendors have vacated the shops because of displacement owing to the re-construction of the Temple supported by the Government of Telangana. 

The results show that among the existing shops, the majority of the shops are related to Gifts and Toys which comprise 38.78 percent of the whole, followed by Bangles and General store about 24.49 percent and Puja, Coconut, Mess and Others. Almost all of the respondents have revealed that their shops have been existing only because of the Temple and only one respondent denied it, out of 49 samples.

With regard to age group of the vendors, majority of the vendors belong to the age group of 31-50 years with 55 percent and followed by 20-30 age group. It shows that majority of the young age group people are making livelihood in and around the temple areas. Of course, more than 20 percent of vendors belong to above 50 years of age group which is significant in the analysis.

Temples have shown their inclusivity by facilitating all groups of people to make their livelihood. As per the analysis, majority of the vendors belonging to Other Backward Classes comprising 77.55 percent and followed by General Category with 14.29 percent and Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes communities together forms about 8.16 percent. Temples accommodates both males and female management vendors in its premises although majority of the vendors belongs to Male category with 77.55 percent and remaining are female managers.

With regard to the vendor’s education, out of 49 respondents, 16 respondents have completed their intermediate (12th Class) or diploma education comprising 32.65 percent, followed by higher secondary with about 26.53 percent, graduation 20.41 percent, primary education 8.16 percent and about 6.12 is the percentagefor both post-graduation as well as illiterate vendors. More than 50 percent of the respondents have completed intermediate and above education among the vendors, which means the temples are accommodating even higher educated people in their livelihoods.

Among the vendors, 34 respondents’i.e., 69.39 percent have revealed that they have own houses and about 30.61 respondents have been living in rented houses. Irrespective of ownership status of the house, 93.88 percent of the respondents have been living in pucca houses only in and around the temple area.

Majority of the vendors have their livelihood pattern based on temple products such as gifts, toys, bangle stores and puja stores, attracting all communities to make their livelihood in temple-based products particularly other backward classes, irrespective of educational backgrounds, even higher educated people with pucca houses for living.

More than 40 vendors out of 49 have been earning respectful amount in temple areas. Majority of the respondents have been earning above Rs. 20,000/- per month from all sources and coincidentally almost all the amount is based on only temple-based business activity. Similarly, 15 respondents have said that they have been earning in the range of Rs. 15,000 to 20,000 per month from all sources and majorly from existing shop which is located at temple area only. 4 respondents have been earning in a range of Rs. 10,000 to 15,000 and only 5 vendors have been earning less than Rs. 10,000 per month. The results indicates that majority of the respondents have been earning a decent and respectful income for their survival in the temple area.

Many shops have closed down because of re-construction of the temple by the Government of Telangana and many of the vendors have been displaced and replaced to different places. However, as per the collected data from the field shows that out of 49 respondents 33 vendors had been surviving at the temple area through their livelihood and only 16 vendors have started their shops after 2014 which is the time period when temple re-construction took place. About 18.37 percent of the vendors have been there even before the year 1990 and during 1991-2014 about 24 vendors have started their business activity. Majority of them have been satisfied with their business and 85.71 percent of the respondent’s desire to continue the same business. Majority of the respondents have revealed that their profits level is good and about 41 percent of the respondents have opinion that their profits level. Significant number of vendors have been complying taxes to the government as well as to the local authorities.

It is interesting to notice that minimum amount of monthly income from all sources and shop is Rs. 5,000/- which means those who have less than Rs. 10,000 incomes are solely depending on temple-based livelihood. Average income from the shop at the temple area is Rs. 26,081 which is quite encouraging and attractive to the competitors. Total investment ranges from Rs. 2000 to Rs. 2 million which indicates that irrespective of the size of the business all vendors can co-exist in the market. There are many vendors who run their shop with their family members and without employing people. However, there are certain vendors who have been employing people at max 9 persons. On an average each shop employing more than 1 person.

Every economic activity has its own business cycles. Similarly, the vendors at the temple areas also have their own normal business and peak seasons. During festivals, congregations, special puja days, Dussehra and Summer vacations, they have very good business. Number of pilgrims visit to the shops increase almost three times (2.92 times) from normal season to peak season and almost at the same rate the business also increases (2.64 times). It shows that there is a positive correlation between the number of pilgrims visit to the temple and business prosperities as well as special days of puja, festivals, congregations and vacation influences the business prosperities at the temple areas.

Pilgrims’ data analysis and interpretation

The socio-economic conditions of the pilgrims who visit the Yadadri Sri Lakshmi Narasimha Swamy Temple. It is interesting to note that the majority of the pilgrims comprise the age group of 20-40, which is young and energetic, followed by the 41-60 years of age group. 78.26 percent of the pilgrims belong to age group of 20-40 years, and more than 65 percent of the pilgrims are graduated and above, indicating that the younger generation with higher education is inclined more towards our culture and pious to the God Sri Lakshmi NarasimhaSwamy at Yadadri.

Temple is open to all, irrespective of their professions and caste. All the caste groups are allowed to have the divine darshan of the main deity. Analysis shows that the majority of the respondents are from the OBC category followed by the general community. However, a significant number of respondents belongto scheduled castes and scheduled tribes among the devotees. The majority of the pilgrims come either with their friends or families, whichcomprises more than 80 percent of the pilgrims. They come from far of places ranging from 100-200 KM predominantly followed by 50-100 KM range. A significant number of devotees are there from more than a 200 KM radius of the temple, and majority of the pilgrims uses their own vehicle to travel to the Yadadri Temple though there are Train and RTC Bus facilities.

About 89 percent of the pilgrims offer cash in Temple Hundi for the development activities of the temple and the welfare of the stakeholders. 

It is very interesting to note that the majority of the devotees, about 31.31 percent visit the temple once in every six months, followed by about 29.5 percent visit once in a year or more time. Moreover, 20.56 percent of devotees said that they visit once in every three months, which shows the significant influence of Sri. Lakshmi Narasimha Swamy on the younger generation and educated people and perhaps Vaishnava philosophy.

The majority of the pilgrims belong to poor, below middle-class income group,and their income is below Rs. 5,00,00 per annum. However, Yadadri Temple receives pilgrims from all types of income groups, irrespective of their social or economic status.

Irrespective of their income category, every pilgrim spends a good amountof money on their visit to the temple. The majority of the pilgrims are spending in the range of Rs. 2001-5000/- followed by Rs. 1001-2000/-. A significant number of pilgrims are also spendingabove Rs. 5000/- at the Yadadri Temple. Various means of expenditure by the pilgrims, indicating that maximum amount of expenditure goes on transportation and food. A significant amount of spending goes on to have temple darshan, puja materials, and general items by the pilgrims.       

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