Last Updated : 05 July 2011 at 04:30 IST
Gold treasure at India temple could be the largest in the world
The value of treasure consisting of thousands of kilos of gold, diamonds, gems and silver ornaments, found concealed in different cellars at Sree Padmanabha swamy temple in Thiruvananthapuram, capital of South Indian state of Kerala, is estimated to cross over Rs 1,00,000 crore.
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NEW DELHI (Commodity Online) : The value of treasure consisting of thousands of kilos of gold, diamonds, gems and silver ornaments, found concealed in different cellars at Sree Padmanabha swamy temple in Thiruvananthapuram, capital of South Indian state of Kerala, is estimated to cross over a mind-blowing Rs 1,00,000 crore ($22 billion).
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As per expert accounts, this could be the largest treasure of gold found anywhere in India and possibly in the world. Two more cellars are to be opened on Monday which could add more value to the already whopping amount.
Analysts said the estimated amount is nearly three times the annual budget size of Kerala. Experts are yet to find out the antique value of the rare articles found from the secret cellars.
However, some experts have questioned the quick estimates, saying it would take several weeks to make an assessment.
The priceless articles includes a gold sheaf weighing 500 kilos, an 18-foot gold chain weighing 10.5 kilos, a 36-kilo golden veil, quintals of gold granules and nuggets, crowns, numerous jewels and diamonds including those from Antwerp and rare coins from many countries including France.
The vaults were opened after India’s apex court, the Supreme Court ordered the state government to take over the temple's assets from a trust controlled by the royal family of Travancore.
The temple has six underground chambers. The two chambers that were opened were last looked at about 130 years ago.
With this stunning discovery, the Sri Padmanabha Swamy Temple has become the richest Hindu temple in India, bypassing the Balaji temple at Tirupati. The Tirupati temple is known to have gold worth Rs 42,000 crore.
The Sri Padmanabhaswamy temple was built in the 16th century by the kings of Travancore. The descendents of the royal family had appealed to the Supreme Court against the petition for the takeover.
The shrine, located right in the heart of the Kerala's capital, is run by a trust floated by the Travancore royal house, to which Lord Padmanabha is the family deity.
Princely states in India merged with the Indian republic after the country gained Independence from British rule in 1947. Initially, the princes were allowed to retain their titles and some property, and were given funds in lieu of the revenue they earlier earned.
But the funds and their titles were abolished in 1971. The descendants of the Travancore royal family, however, continued to control the Sri Padmanabhaswamy temple through the trust.
Meanwhile, the findings have raised serious questions about the treasure’s ownership rights and its future security. It has become a big headache for both Kerala and India governments because of security reasons.
Security experts say that the Kerala Police do not have the means and expertise to provide security to such huge wealth. “You need laser-protected safes, digital surveillance and other such modern systems and programmes for providing security to things like this," a police official said.
With the revelation that the temple cellars are holding unimaginably huge treasures, controversies have sparked off over who the real owners of this wealth are. Believers argue that the wealth belongs to the temple and should continue to be kept in the temple itself under foolproof security.
However, some historians say that the treasure was actually public property hidden away by the erstwhile kings. Atheists and rationalists argue that the treasure could have been black wealth amassed by the kings and hidden in the temple for reasons of the peculiar security situation of those times.
However, Uthradam Thirunnal Marthanda Varma, the present heir of the royalty, said he did not want to say anything about the treasure, describing it as the wealth of Lord Padmanabha. “I must not say anything about it. I am just seeing what is happening,” he said.
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