Vijay Mallya keeps his word. His employees at Kingfisher may not agree. But today, on his 57th birthday, Mr Mallya went personally to Tirumala to fulfill a promise he had made earlier to the Lord of the Seven Hills that he would pay to gold plate what is called the 'bangaru vakili', or the doorstep to the sanctum sanctorum of the world's richest pilgrimage centre.
Mr Mallya went with 3 kg of gold and handed it over to Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam (TTD) officials.
Deputy executive officer Chinangari Ramana has confirmed that a receipt was also issued to Mr Mallya for the donation.
This is not the first time that the promoter of the United Breweries group is donating to the temple. He has in the past donated up to 8 kg for gold plating parts of the temple.
Mr Mallya tweeted today: "I am overwhelmed n humbled by ur birthday greetings n good wishes. Thank u from d bottom of my heart. Am in Tirupati. May Balaji bless us all."
Mr Mallya, one of India's richest men, had agreed to a $2.1 billion deal last month to sell a majority stake in his United Spirits Ltd to Diageo Plc.
Mr Mallya, known for his lavish lifestyle and often referred to as India's Richard Branson, has been in the news after Kingfisher, the airline promoted by him, was grounded by the aviation regulator for its failure to come up with a viable plan of financial and operational revival after a labour unrest in October led to the airline announcing a lockout.
Kingfisher, which Mallya launched with much fanfare in 2005, was once India's second-largest airline by domestic market share. For most of this year, the carrier has struggled to pay its staff, and it has not flown since early October due to protests and safety concerns.
With inputs from Reuters