$11 billion treasure revealed beneath temple in India
The Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple is in Thiruvananthapuram, the capital of the southern Indian state of Kerala.
July 4th, 2011
12:43 PM ET

$11 billion treasure revealed beneath temple in India

A court-ordered search of vaults beneath a temple in India has turned up a treasure worth at least $11 billion, according to reports from the Indian state of Kerala.

An inventory of what lies beneath the Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple in Thiruvananthapuram, as reported on the website Business-Standard.com and others, reads like a prop list from an "Indiana Jones" movie:

  • Rubies, sapphires, emeralds and pearls
  • Replicas of coconut shells made of pure gold
  • Hundreds of thousands of gold and silver coins, some dating to the 16th century
  • Gold chains as long as 18 feet
  • Solid-gold human figurines and idols
  • Crowns and pendants
  • Gold and silver bars

The wealth was amassed in at least six vaults, some of which had not been opened in 150 years, according to media reports. India's Supreme Court ordered an inventory of the vaults after hearing a private complaint seeking "more transparency and trustworthiness in the temple administration," according to a report on the news website daijiworld.com.

The former royal family of Travancore manages the temple. For an explanation about how the treasure might have been amassed, check out this report from CommodityOnline.com.

The Kerala government said Monday the treasure will remain property of the shrine, according to media reports.

"The wealth belonged to the temple and it will be preserved where it was found. There is religious and historical significance to the findings. The state will ensure its security," Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy told the Times of India.

As word of the find has spread, Kerala police are asking for help to safeguard the treasure, according to media reports.

"It is too big a challenge for the police. We have no trained personnel to manage such a huge treasure. We have sought the help of several agencies who can really help us," Jacob Punnose, director general of the Kerala police, told India Today.

What might the treasure, which the Economic Times of India says is likely the biggest in the country, mean for Kerala, a south Indian state of 33 million people? The Economic Times has some ideas.

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Filed under: India • World
soundoff (792 Responses)
  1. Mr. N

    Going over some of the numbers India may now have more gold than the U.S.! The United States Bullion Depository holds 4,578 metric tons (5046 tons) of gold bullion. A single item in the India find was a 1/2 ton gold sheaf. Good thing (for us) currency isn't based on the gold standard anymore.

    July 4, 2011 at 5:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • GoingOverNumbers

      Good thing for us currency is not based on the gold standard? Have you any idea at all of what is a good thing? Please get out of my CNN.

      July 4, 2011 at 6:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • Reg

      You're mistaken, currency is still valued by gold standard. Gold is in fact the real currency, whereas you're paper money or even plastic and wired money are only symbolic of that. The only other currency is barter like wheat and direct trade of goods.

      July 4, 2011 at 6:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ha Ha

      Good comment Mr N....I guess some people are so quick to ridicule and point out other people's mistakes that they don't get the sarcasm.

      July 4, 2011 at 6:35 pm | Report abuse |
  2. s.k

    Thank God ,and good work by the King ,He kept it hidden from British and Mughals who looted India.

    July 4, 2011 at 6:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • SS

      LMAO!!! NIce!

      July 4, 2011 at 6:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • tom

      Mugols did not loot india, moron, they were indian themselves. Get your facts straight

      July 4, 2011 at 6:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tracy

      mughals were indians you idiot...what brain-washed history have you been learning?

      July 4, 2011 at 6:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • b.v.

      Tom,

      Get your facts straight. Mughals, not mugols, were not from india originally. They came from the middle east. They conquered and ruled over large parts of india until the british came.

      July 4, 2011 at 6:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • Vishal

      Just replying in response to an idiot named Tom who wrote below that you should learn your facts and that mughals were indians hahaha Tom, you check your facts!! Mughals came from middle east and looted india to the ashes and they were never indians and we despise them!!

      July 4, 2011 at 6:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • Reg

      Mughals included the likes of Genghis Khan. They were islamic invaders from the North, including from Mongolia and Arab corners. They were NOT Indian, although they forced many Indians to convert under threat of sword, murder, slavery and genocide.

      July 4, 2011 at 6:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • Adobe

      Mughals and British are both india looters.

      July 4, 2011 at 6:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • hariinder

      what is all this talk about muggles, when did harry potter clash with an indian treasure?

      July 4, 2011 at 6:43 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Phoenixjake

    The Maharajahs of Travancore stored state treasures in secret vaults beneath their royal temple to protect it from the invading Tippu Sultan.The treasures give you a glimpse of how glorious India once was, a far cry from what it is today. India was just as sophiscated as Europe during the Renaissance and they reached their Rennaissance stage much earlier than Europe. Some of the treasures can be kept in a museum but I think most of it should be auctioned off and the money used to help India's poor, especially the millions of kids who are malnourished.

    July 4, 2011 at 6:02 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Arne

    This is a fascinating story. Yet CNN got it SOOO wrong. First, Indian papers are reporting the value is a lakh crore. A lakh is 100,000. A Crore is 10,000,000. That means 10 Trillion Indian Rupees (Rs) which at today's conversion rate of 2.24 Dollars for every 100 Rupees means the value is $22.4 Billion, twice as large as stated. Second, Indian papers stated that this is the value after only 4 of the 6 vaults have been opened and that they are opening the remaining 2 vaults today, July 4. Third, the papers made it very clear that no one knows the antique value of the treasures yet. The treasure could double or even triple in value before they are done, especially considering the antique coins Just look up all the stories of Caribbean coin troves.

    July 4, 2011 at 6:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • Reg

      That's right, it's typical to under-rate everything Indian. BBCe was reporting teh value of the treasure to be only $500 million. Anyway, no big deal, The owners know what they got, and are real happy with it.

      July 4, 2011 at 6:28 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Devotee

    I m thinking what will happen if mythical city of Golden Dawarika will come out from ocean !!! Guys India is full of mystery , its just you need to discover more of Incredible India !!! But hey do not think all this treasure will help to make India rich , as India will remain poor but yes Indian Politicians will surely be more richer than China or America

    July 4, 2011 at 6:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • sanila

      India is not a poor country. Our economy is doing numbers right now. It's obvious every country has its poor parts and poor people.

      July 4, 2011 at 6:26 pm | Report abuse |
  6. just a thought

    I wonder now, if when we call our cerdit card companies if we will get India? Or if that is beneath them now?

    July 4, 2011 at 6:06 pm | Report abuse |
  7. SP

    It could be worth more than $50 billion if auctioned off. The current estimates are based on gold prices not their historic values.

    July 4, 2011 at 6:13 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Varun

    Queen Elizabeth might be wondering why she could not find it earlier, might be summoning the old generals to ask why we were not able to loot it !!!!

    July 4, 2011 at 6:13 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Big Fish

    Wow. Quick we must invade India. We must eradicate Al-Q agents lurking there! Oh ,we can use (sell) the gold to help pay for the new war. (sound familiar?)

    July 4, 2011 at 6:20 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Tony

    The term Mughal (Persian: مغول) (Urdu: مغل) is simply the Persian form of the word Mongol, and many groups in Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India use the term Mughal to describe themselves. In theory, the Mughals of South Asia and Iran are descended from the various Mongol armies that at one point or other conquered or settled in the region. They are not "Indian" and they did loot India

    July 4, 2011 at 6:24 pm | Report abuse |
  11. shan sendhilvelan

    This wealth account is not surprising. There is another temple in thirupathi with known wealth of 320 Billion USD. the total wealth of all the temple in south INDIA my account to well more than a Trillion Dollars. The rich in INDIA may not pay full taxes but donate a portion of their wealth to a TEMPLE.

    July 4, 2011 at 6:26 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Kyle Hunter

    They may be catching up to the Vatican and what they have ratholed in the catacombs beneath Vatican City!

    July 4, 2011 at 6:30 pm | Report abuse |
  13. AkashKaySajith

    Current value is estimated to be $22 Bn. Its antique value will be 10 times the estimated value, that makes Travancore Maharaja the richest man on earth. It'll be mightier than the wealth of all forbes 5 (richest men n earth) put together.

    July 4, 2011 at 6:31 pm | Report abuse |
  14. sanila

    Everyone is the first to hate on Indias findings. But I am proud of my Kerala, Gods own 🙂

    July 4, 2011 at 6:32 pm | Report abuse |
  15. kowalzki

    Hindu God needs money/Jewelry under the temple?

    Which one of a thousand gods is this one?
    The "Poor" God 🙂 lol

    July 4, 2011 at 6:33 pm | Report abuse |
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