Treasure found in Indian Temple

The stuff of movies. Precious stones, jewellery, gold and silver estimated to be worth several billion dollars have been found in the secret underground vaults of an ancient temple in Thiruvananthapuram southern India.

The treasure trove included an 18-foot-long necklace, 536kg of 18th century gold coins, diamond-studded plates, rubies and emeralds.

The vaults were opened after the Supreme Court ordered the state government to take over the temple’s assets from a trust controlled by the royal family of Travancore.

According to noted historian Dr M G S Narayanan, Padmanabhaswamy is one of the Vaishnava temples in the country and dates back to 9th Century.

The temple has six underground chambers, of which two are opened daily, and two twice a year. The two chambers opened on Thursday and Friday were last looked at about 130 years ago.

The wealth at the temple has opened a debate over government control over the property. Prominent Hindu organisation Nair Service Society said the treasure found at the temple should remain with the temple.

Atheist leader U Kalanadan said the property was stashed in the temple cellars by the erstwhile kings. Hence, it could not be claimed as Hindu property. The government should take over the temple wealth for public use, he said.

Open a museum and attract tourists might be the best solution, if not lock up the vault for another 130 years.

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