$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. Gopi

    I believe the treasure should remain in the temple and the temple wealth be used to take care of the less fortunate ones. They need to have an auditor to go over the temple's assets and make sure nothing hanky panky is done with it. The charity work should be without brainwashing poor people into believing in god as that should come within oneself. The temple and its assets are part of our history to cherish.

    July 4, 2011 at 4:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • Fig1024

      It doesn't work like that. People come to give offering in hope of salvation or other religious promises. The temple does not sell any items for cash to help poor people.

      July 4, 2011 at 4:44 pm | Report abuse |
  2. AkashKaySajith

    Terrorism Protection? Well, we never had any terrorist attack in Kerala yet. We always had good contacts in middle-east.

    July 4, 2011 at 4:39 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Redbeard

    Arrrgh, didn't get me booty back. Cow walked the plank. Realized I'm not Hindu and am in need of bovine sustenance. Now must figure out how to get cow back on ship. Thanks for nothing Raja.

    July 4, 2011 at 4:43 pm | Report abuse |
  4. AkashKaySajith

    @NE +1

    July 4, 2011 at 4:43 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Vegan

    The Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple is in Thiruvananthapuram. The WHAT is WHERE? LOL

    July 4, 2011 at 4:45 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Fig1024

    Now that it hit the public news, it's only matter of time before violent criminal organization robs the place. I'd give it 1 year tops

    July 4, 2011 at 4:46 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Krys

    I just love Americans!! What a bunch of great and giving people. If there is a problem in the world, they will come and help. God Bless the Americans. Oh and Happy Birthday to your country today! :0)

    July 4, 2011 at 4:47 pm | Report abuse |
  8. vinod nair


    July 4, 2011 at 4:48 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Raghu

    i don't know how to convince you. But with out Indians working here at cheaper labor & very high quality deliverables., there would have been no Internet revolution and Americans would have been paying a lot to the Chinese goods making them worlds most powerful nation threatening the existence of the USA.You are looking at a problem with out a microscope.

    July 4, 2011 at 4:50 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Whoisme

    Beware of these white trashes,who are looking for oil or treasures,they dont even mind waging war against INDIA as an reason of act as IT terrorism and loot indian temples

    July 4, 2011 at 4:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • White Trash

      I'm coming for the loot!! So beware Indian trash.

      July 4, 2011 at 6:23 pm | Report abuse |
  11. SickOfIt

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

    I'd like to volunteer to help guard this temple. To show you how unselfish and dedicated I am, I'll even take the night shift all by myself.

    July 4, 2011 at 4:53 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Treasure Hunter

    How can I get a job as a security officer there. I believe I can be of great help and lift some of the load off their backs.

    July 4, 2011 at 4:54 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Padmakumae Rao

    About Kerala, where Padmanabha Swami temple is located:

    Kerala, a state in India, is a bizarre anomaly among developing nations, a place that offers real hope for the future of the Third World. Though not much larger than Maryland, Kerala has a population as big as California­'s and a per capita annual income of less than $300. But its infant mortality rate is very low, its literacy rate among the highest on Earth, and its birthrate below America's and falling faster. Kerala's residents live nearly as long as Americans or Europeans. Though mostly a land of paddy-cove­red plains, statistica­lly Kerala stands out as the Mount Everest of social developmen­t; there's truly no place like it. [ Author and environmen­talist Bill McKibben]

    July 4, 2011 at 4:56 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Truth6

    Now Indians are confused because of the strong influence of western culture which has a strong attribute of selfishness(even i am a victim). The culture and customs in India were selfless and were humanitarian which got destroyed when people got diverted from their culture. Hinduism is not a religion , it is a set of thoughts which forms a culture and when followed can live a selfless life in the virtual world which last for a transient time. The concept is tough but could be understood when deeply explored with interest.
    About third world country comment about India, India is having same number of middle class family as US has. But the problem is population and it is not because of uncontrolled birth, it is because of the migration happened since long when India had high GDP rate. See how the population doubled in US in less than 100 years. People tend to live in prosperous countries and leave their homeland and the same happend to India too. If you go to New york , you can see the trouble they are having with population and how they dramatically become rude compared to Boston locals.

    July 4, 2011 at 4:56 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Padmakumar Rao

    From Wikipedia: As per the 2001 census, Kerala is the only state in India with a female-to-­male ratio higher than 0.99. The ratio for Kerala is 1.058 — 1059 females per 1000 males — while the national figure is 0.933 It is also the only state in India to have sub-replac­ement fertility. UNICEF and the World Health Organizati­on (WHO) designated Kerala the world's first "baby-frie­ndly state" via its "Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative­". The state is also known for Ayurveda, a traditiona­l system of medicine — this traditiona­l expertise is currently drawing increasing numbers of medical tourists. However, drawbacks to this situation includes the population­'s steady aging — indeed, 11.2% of Keralites are age 60 or over

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