$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. blinder

    This is disgusting. What does a temple need with billions worth of objects that have no real value other than monetary value. How many people are starving in India right now? How many people could that treasure help get by another day? I'm not advocating forced redistribution, but what kind of religious establishment would rather have billions in precious metals and gems sit in a basement instead of using that to help the needy?

    July 4, 2011 at 3:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jan Greer

      the Vatican Library isn't exactly Salvation Army

      July 4, 2011 at 3:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • J&VsMon

      Well.... the Vatican comes to mind.

      July 4, 2011 at 3:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • rnicholas

      @blinder ... so, all the cash spent here in america on churches don't count, huh? take the crystal cathedral, located in garden grove, california, for example. i wonder how many say, homeless american veterans the money spent on that place would have housed?

      July 4, 2011 at 3:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • Agnotheist

      You could start with the Catholic Church....

      July 4, 2011 at 3:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • blinder

      Well no, I think any church, house of worship, or religious authority's first responsibility is to the lowest people in society, be it the Vatican, the LDS, or whatever. This article happened to be about a Hindu temple, so that's what I commented on. Kudos on jumping to stupid conclusions though, everyone.

      July 4, 2011 at 4:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • Wicket

      The less antiquated objects should be sold to collectors at a high value (museum-quality) in order for the temple to finance helping the poor. There is nothing wrong with maintaining a collection of historic artifacts.
      Loss of history is important too, and those of you claiming that the Vatican should sell off their ancient library for a few dollars is idiotic. We lost the great Library at Alexandria, we don't need to lose the Vatican's antiquities department as well.

      July 4, 2011 at 4:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • SS

      Some oft those vaults hadn't been opened in a 150 years. Learn to read.

      July 4, 2011 at 4:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • blinder

      @SS And "The wealth belonged to the temple and will be preserved where it was found." meaning it's going to stay there. Learn to comprehend what it is you're reading.

      July 4, 2011 at 4:33 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Skull Pirate

    " KALI-MAAAAAA!!! KALI-MAAAA!!!! " – Mola Ram.

    July 4, 2011 at 3:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • Fareed Zakaria

      Oh num Shiva!....

      July 4, 2011 at 4:08 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Truth

    Wow.. there are many things missing in this article.
    This kingdom was one of the greatest nations in the world before british rule. The fame of the similar small kingdoms in India propelled foreigners to establish trade and further invade this part of the country. They were scientifically way advanced but not in army strength. They had devised the first martial arts in earth-'Kalaripayattu' though there were many rules for them on how to go for a war like a war can be fought between specified timings in a day, fought between an armed men only with similar weapon etc where as invaders invaded countries at night and with guns.
    There were many such similar kingdoms existed in India atleast in Southern and western India at that time. Most of the treasures as well as temples were looted first by Islam invaders then by British.
    The rulers in this Kingdom hide the wealth of the palace(not the entire kingdom) in the secret chamber when Tippu sultan attacked northern part of Kerala. When Tippu was defeated by a coallition formed by native rulers and british, British started plundering the native kings. So the treasure remained in the chamber since then.
    Most of the similar treasures are now at Buckingham palace and it will be more than what we found here in this temple. So I don't tnk it is the biggest treasure ever found. May be the queen Elizabeth can reveal it one day how big were the treasure hunt.

    July 4, 2011 at 3:46 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Africa

    There are plenty of hidden treasures/ temples of gold in the content of Africa; Once upon a time Africans ruled the entire planet, we had more money than one could imagine, but then the war started somewhere in the 1500’s and a lot of our treasure was stolen, Africans started hiding their treasures, built the pyramids, to avoid our content from being totally robbed; Then slavery came about and rob Africa of trillions of dollars, However there are plenty more treasures yet to be discovered in Africa, worth trillions, once Obama gets reelected Africans will feel more comfortable revealing some of the secrets!!!!!!

    July 4, 2011 at 3:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • Boris

      What planet did it rule? Planet Africa. lol. So stupid.

      July 4, 2011 at 3:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • Logic

      They built the pyramids to hide their gold? Do you know how absolutely retarded that sounds? Hey, let's build this huge structure, visible for miles, and then let's hide gold under it. Way to think that one through buddy.

      July 4, 2011 at 3:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • Matthew

      Yeah dude you kind of made yourself look completely retarded there. So war broke out in the 1500's and then the Africans started building the pyramids? Nothings worse than some ignorant fool trying to preach black pride vitriol masqueraded as a history lesson. The pyramids were built thousands of years before 1500, by Jewish slaves, back when the roles were completely reversed. Timbuktu, Africa's Library/trade market/ government stronghold, was destroyed in like 350 BC, and that was the last time all these "treasures" were around. Only thing you got right in your post was how it was stolen and destroyed by invading forces, but there was no need for that ignorance or black power horse crap to get that point across. Think before you type shlomo

      July 4, 2011 at 4:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • Treasure hunter

      Could you be a bit more specific about where the treasures are in Africa. I would like to take a look for myself.

      July 4, 2011 at 4:10 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Chicago Sports

    So the movie National Treasure was real?? Now we just need to hope no other Nicholas Cage movies turn out to be true... Have you seen GhostRider?

    July 4, 2011 at 3:49 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Africa

    There are plenty of hidden treasures/ temples of gold in the content of Africa; Once upon a time Africans ruled the entire planet, we had more money than one could imagine, but then the war started somewhere in the 1500’s and a lot of our treasure was stolen, Africans started hiding their treasures, built the pyramids, to avoid our content from being totally robbed; Then slavery came about and rob Africa of trillions of dollars, However there are plenty more treasures yet to be discovered in Africa, worth trillions, once Obama gets reelected Africans will feel more comfortable revealing some of the secrets.####

    July 4, 2011 at 3:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • Treasure hunter

      But where are those treasures. Show me please!!!

      July 4, 2011 at 4:14 pm | Report abuse |
  7. MrsMarissa237

    He gove them his rations, candy, hershey, learned about the "cows", they showed him kindness, nice peaceful homes, like you read in the library books, functional homes where nice people live with exteneded families, they shared national treasures with him, they showed him the nice places, the Taj Mahal, he was raised well and peacefully, and liked this instead of playing cards or going to the train station, he loved their homelife. always wanted milk, though, always was temped to drink the milk from those cows. knew farmlife at home and couldnt understand how they exalted cows, llikes their religiion, their peaceful ways. Nice place, he said, it was overrun and overadvertised by the Beatles, and some groups, I liked "sluumdog millionaire" tho I dont think they lived like it, some may, its so different now, they shoud structure the "find" to improve the community. Contact the interglobal money meet people and ask for help, with tax shelters.and investing, loan the pieces for money. its really nice to see he was right, i dont think he went to the gurus he went to the people, I read the Dahli Llama for him, to understand, and everything except passing on all our sentient beings makes good sense.its good if you live there to implement the teachings. This is a very good gift thank you
    There is so much tumult going on, court hearing, the cops have gone mad, arresting and suspecting normal citizens. it is so good to experience this, and they cant get to it, its beliefs and art, and something I hope my son can respect in life and the hereafter.

    July 4, 2011 at 3:51 pm | Report abuse |
  8. allan

    The Vatican is sitting on 100 times that value easily.

    July 4, 2011 at 3:54 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Boris

    If Obama was smart he would hire Harrison Ford to raid the temple in order to balance the US budget and to pay for OBAMA care.

    July 4, 2011 at 3:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • Reg

      he should rather invade the church, they're easily sitting on trillions of dollars in selfish money.

      July 4, 2011 at 6:42 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Africa

    The so called prince of England and the queen all got their wealth dating back to slavery days; the British robbed Africa during the war and took majority of treasure. Today Prince Williams is doing a world parade, thanks to the wealth his ancestors stole from Africa, the queen and the prince of England hasn’t worked in centuries, they still have all their wealth thanks to Africans!!

    July 4, 2011 at 3:56 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Jay Shelley

    More evidence that India is trying to join the modern age and return to its roots as the law-abiding society it was under British rule. India would have been much better off had the British kept control of it. The reality of this country is that most people are illiterate and can barely form words. Your average Indian has the mental capacity of the retarded hillbilly in the film DELIVERANCE, so we should not take this country too seriously as a threat to a modern, industrial, highly educated power like the US.

    July 4, 2011 at 3:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • Karthi

      @Jay Shelley...you are just talking rubbish here. The temple wealth is just one example of how India was once the wealthiest nation on earth. Your US is found by accident while searching the sea route for India. The later middle ages are the dakest years in India history, where it was ruled by uneducated rulers from the west follwed by british raj. Both the period the Indian society struggled too much, and the people forgot or lost their knowlegde. Go and study vedic maths and science which was developed in India few milleniums back...it will challange the moderen western science

      July 5, 2011 at 2:06 am | Report abuse |
    • Bk

      Please read Late Victorian Holocausts by M Davis, Dowry Murders by Dr Oldenburg and Mukherjee's Churchill's Secret War to see the loot, horror and degradation that was British colonization. That is how the UK grew rich: its stately homes, parks and museums, like the Tate, are built on slavery, drug traffiking and treachery. Their Queen, of course, wears this loot, like some keep a native American's skull, proudly.

      July 5, 2011 at 6:25 am | Report abuse |
  12. Africa

    The so called prince of England and the queen all got their wealth dating back to slavery days; the British robbed Africa during the war and took majority of treasure. Today Prince Williams is doing a world parade, thanks to the wealth his ancestors stole from Africa, the queen and the prince of England hasn’t worked in centuries, they still have all their wealth thanks to Africans!!$$$

    July 4, 2011 at 3:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • Treasure hunter

      Damn! looks like I have to take trip to Africa. Guess what??? I'm going to take Will and Kate with me.

      July 4, 2011 at 4:17 pm | Report abuse |
  13. JB

    If they ever have a nuclear war with Pakistan, after the soot settles, I'm going looting and no, I don't believe it would be wrong in comparison to fatalistically sealing up wealth like that for 130 years that accomplishes nothing, while people starve to death in the streets. Right, Wrong and Religion are all only theories, but money, hunger and splitting the atom are all very real. Which deserves more consideration? Reality or a mixture of mind fogging fantasy and crap? It’s just unbelievable how some people never bother to question their upbringing or attempt to learn from history. Unforgivable. Just unforgivable.

    July 4, 2011 at 3:57 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Yasmine

    So what do you guys think? Should I sell or keep my golden coconuts in this market?

    July 4, 2011 at 3:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • Johnjon

      sell, Yasmine............ sell, sell, sell!

      July 4, 2011 at 4:03 pm | Report abuse |
  15. John

    The Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple in Thiruvananthapuram. Try saying that three times fast!

    July 4, 2011 at 3:58 pm | Report abuse |
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