$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. san diego

    This treasure is way too big. I hope the temple sell the gold before some guards get kill while guarding it and use the money to build schools, houses, playgrounds, parks for the poor citizens.

    July 4, 2011 at 6:38 pm | Report abuse |
  2. tzvikf

    Heh, they are looking for help to guard the treasure. I volunteer. Just give me some directions and the keys!

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

    The archeological value of this treasure weighs more than its monetary value.

    July 4, 2011 at 6:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • hailey

      Oh no it doesn't. For the figurines maybe but not for the piles of rubies for crying out loud.

      July 4, 2011 at 7:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • Julia

      If used wisely TOGETHER, the temple with the treasure could provide for Kerala's people basically forever! Unless they object to a steady flow of wealthy tourists, providing them with a steady income.

      July 4, 2011 at 7:56 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Sunny

    @ Rob Van Der: For the Muslims living in India, India is their home, so there is no question of kicking them out. Why do you think all Muslims are terrorist? Again Ignorance is not always bliss.

    July 4, 2011 at 6:49 pm | Report abuse |
  5. AkashKaySajith

    The $22 Bn treasure haul made Kerala, indeed a GODS OWN COUNTRY 🙂

    July 4, 2011 at 6:50 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Sathya

    Rulers have protected this wealth from invading armies for centuries. Now who can protect this from Indian Politicians .

    July 4, 2011 at 6:50 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Rob

    I say good for India they need it, though as previously stated, I highly doubt any of the monies acquired from this find will be used in a philanthropical manner. The garbage ridden, stench filled streets will still be full of children, half naked, dressed in tattered rags, tugging at passers-by, begging for rupees. Such a shame. A national embarrassment actually.

    July 4, 2011 at 6:52 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Rob

    TV It's not hard to brainwash, train and pay someone who has nothing to begin with, much less nothing to live for.

    July 4, 2011 at 6:57 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Is Fort Knox a little lighter?

    Strange, whatever happened to that Indian Dude with the elephant idols. Worked here doing security at Fort Knox for jeez over 20 years and then one day just called in sick. Remember he always was hunched over with that bad back but never once complained.
    We never heard from him again.

    July 4, 2011 at 6:59 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Dano

    I guess the Knights Templar have lost a step. Aren't they supposed to move the treasure right before people find it?

    July 4, 2011 at 7:06 pm | Report abuse |
  11. fairy

    If the British found out that the treasure was there, they would take the whole temple.

    July 4, 2011 at 7:09 pm | Report abuse |
  12. GoingOverNumbers

    @ Reg, back on the previous page:

    We are no longer using a metal standard (gold, silver, or otherwise) in this country. Metal has nothing to do with our dollar: our currency is fiat. If you believe we have a gold standard, then you must believe that with every new cent that is minted, the country's gold supply increases accordingly. Since 1964 and 1982 (dimes/quarters and pennies, respectively), we have been using cheap metals for our coins. Once copper prices hit a certain ceiling, watch for the government to stop using copper in quarters and dimes (since '82 your pennies have been over 95% zinc, as 1 melted copper penny is worth 2.7 cents with today's copper prices).

    Yet I'm preaching to the choir: CNN.com knows all about the advantages of a commodity-backed currency and the dangers of unfettered minting of fiat currency.

    July 4, 2011 at 7:12 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Joey Isotta-Fraschini

    @ Africa:
    I know that revision occurs in the writing of history texts, but you really need to broaden your base of information.

    July 4, 2011 at 7:13 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Napster

    Now the British are wondering...how did we miss this temple....?? British and persian pludered most of the Indian temples...otherwise...there would have been 100s of these treasures......Fortunately...this was at the southern tip....and was preserved and protected...till now....now god should protect it from the politicians and from being smuggled to europe for bidding.

    July 4, 2011 at 7:21 pm | Report abuse |
  15. djnkwjn

    Well well, we have a plot for National Treasure 4, don't we?

    July 4, 2011 at 7:30 pm | Report abuse |
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