$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. Abnguy

    The money belongs to the temple. The only reason this is a story is that some greedy people wanted to get their hands on it and started a lawsuit. One of the biggest conerstones for any demorcacy is freedom of religion.

    July 4, 2011 at 2:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sava

      Agreed

      July 4, 2011 at 2:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ray Hopkins

      The Cross belongs in a MUSEUM! LOL!

      July 4, 2011 at 2:55 pm | Report abuse |
  2. julianpenrod

    This is very characteristic. The wealth likely was squirreled away for centuries, representing donations and payment from the people for rites and ceremonies, and it's absence from the local economy was likely felt for the generation after generation after generation that it was amassed. And, now, instead of distributing it to the people who could use it, they are going to let it stay where it is and use the people's money to pay extra for its protection! It was proitected efficiently over the centuries, and if you think robbers didn't know about it before, you may be as stupid as the New World order wants you to be. You do have to ask, if the money was not collected by the temple for the welfare of the people, wby did they amass it?

    July 4, 2011 at 2:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • Reno

      They definitely needed a golden coconut shells for the good of the people...

      July 4, 2011 at 2:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • rosh

      this temple was owned my a king who ruled travancore, he was known to have all these riches when he was young. the treasure found is about 100 years old. so it is not the public's donations .

      July 4, 2011 at 2:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • julianpenrod

      rosh's response seems like a typical weasling way around the matter. To begin with, $11 billion in today's money conservately could have been the equivalent of as much as $1 trillion more than a century ago. It is not entirely likely that any "king" with that kind of money would just keep control over one province. More than that, though, is rosh trying to say that the wealth the king amassed didn't come from the people?

      July 4, 2011 at 3:34 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Greenhat

    Now let us inventory the ill gotten gains beneath the Vatican!!!!!!

    July 4, 2011 at 2:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • Alex

      You'll find trillions, enough to pay off Europe's and US debt, too bad it shall never be used to do that.

      July 4, 2011 at 2:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • Brenda

      touche!

      July 4, 2011 at 2:59 pm | Report abuse |
  4. saywhat

    The wealth was amassed by hindu Rajas & rulers by plundering their neighbors during battles & then donating a portion to the temples to absolve them of sins.

    Sure it rightfully belongs to the US. We are the only ones invading countries now.

    July 4, 2011 at 2:27 pm | Report abuse |
  5. b. Slider

    If they are smart, they will immediately hire ABDULLAH THE BUTCHER to guard this stuff. Nobody will ever get at it while is on duty!!!

    July 4, 2011 at 2:27 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Boris

    I say we raid the temple and balance the US budget

    July 4, 2011 at 2:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • Caryn

      This wouldn't balance the budget of California – much less the US budget.

      July 4, 2011 at 2:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • Brenda

      Why the US budget? What about the impoverished Indians! Puhleese!

      July 4, 2011 at 3:00 pm | Report abuse |
  7. BIKEKING

    IT WILL DISAPPEAR......VERY SOON....

    July 4, 2011 at 2:33 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Redbeard

    Arrgh! Landlubbers found me loot. Gimme my treasure or the cow walks the plank.

    July 4, 2011 at 2:37 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Sava

    This is most likely centuries of offerings people have made to the deities there. This temple houses more deities than I have ever seen at one location. I am a Vaishnava and would love to visit this temple just to see all of those deities.

    July 4, 2011 at 2:37 pm | Report abuse |
  10. George

    This reminds of 11th century Muslim Invasion of SuperRich SOMNATH TEMPLE where Mahud Gazni said Its wealth 100 times greater than of any King of India.
    Sadly Today its Just Kind of Stone-Hedge.

    July 4, 2011 at 2:38 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Royston

    Rich India of the past and still rich in culture

    July 4, 2011 at 2:39 pm | Report abuse |
  12. GloSeattle

    The Supreme Court should have made provisions prior to their order to search the vaults if treasure was indeed found.

    July 4, 2011 at 2:40 pm | Report abuse |
  13. LP

    Let's wait see Whats in Final vault where its guarded by Iron Gates.

    July 4, 2011 at 2:42 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Redbeard

    Arrgh. Cows can't swim can they?

    July 4, 2011 at 2:42 pm | Report abuse |
  15. LiberalNN

    Wow that temple is cool looking!

    July 4, 2011 at 2:43 pm | Report abuse |
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