$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. Andrew

    India has more than ten such big temples with such huge wealth. If they have similar wealth, then that would make it more than $100 billion in hidden or unused wealth. What is more important is there are more than 1000 temples with lesser wealth. If we assume even $100 million wealth in each of these temples, that will give another $100 billion. That is quite a wealth.

    July 5, 2011 at 9:54 am | Report abuse |
  2. pooja

    Read about Ancient India and be Enlightened :


    July 5, 2011 at 10:06 am | Report abuse |
    • Kerry

      Thanks, I lived in India for approximately one and half years, traveled it extensively. I believe it is the most interesting country in the world.

      July 5, 2011 at 10:51 am | Report abuse |
    • Rajiv Nair

      Good link. Thank you.

      July 5, 2011 at 11:58 am | Report abuse |
  3. Kerry

    What a wonderful find. I do agree that a museum to house the treasure and put it on display for the public would be a good idea. They could hire historians to identify the objects, along with security, charge admission, similar to the Cairo Museum in Egypt. It would become another tourist attraction like the Taj. There are so many artifacts in India that they could keep adding to the colletion.

    July 5, 2011 at 10:25 am | Report abuse |
    • Brian Arkton

      I think that a terrible idea. That is very valuable items that can easily be melted and changed,thus making them impossible to retrieve if that happens. A vault beneath a temple is definitely safer than in a museum shown to public. You may think museums are safe but im sure some of you heard the thefts in some of the big museums around the world. Best and safest idea is to take that money and put it into the countries treasury as a hard currency that can be used for something rather than something to gawk at or steal.

      July 5, 2011 at 12:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • Crocker

      A great majority of the people couldn't afford to travel to the site to see anything. But who cares right?

      July 5, 2011 at 12:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • Patti

      Isn't India home to some of the poorest people on earth? Sell the treasure and let someone ELSE put it in a museum. Feed the people!

      July 5, 2011 at 7:02 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Bhaskar

    News July 2211 – .... followed by another 200 years of British occupation

    July 5, 2011 at 10:43 am | Report abuse |
  5. Andrew James

    World's oldest religion. This only a fraction of the Hindu temple wealth from one temple. Large amount was stolen by Islamic invaders and British. Recently Silver bars were recovered from another temple small room. Devotees make large donations even today in cash and gold so Hindu temples will always be rich.

    July 5, 2011 at 11:28 am | Report abuse |
    • Crocker

      The temples seem to be doing real well while many common folk still live in straw huts and scrounge for food at landfills. Nice way to run a country.

      July 5, 2011 at 12:30 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Bornfree71

    "The wealth was amassed in at least six vaults, some of which had not been opened in 150 years...."

    Me thinks the treasure belongs to the British Crown. After all, the same logic was applied to all the other treasures that were plundered by them and taken to Britain. You cannot cheat the British empire out of what was rightly theirs – 100% taxable treasure 😉

    July 5, 2011 at 12:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • seb

      Find it insulting & doubled standards, I am English & I believe any form of empire is not right, each country (& its native people) have the right to govern itself.

      History for thousands of years all the way to the present time is littered with empires, im not proud of something’s we did in India but some people need to read up about the history of India before bad mouthing the British empire history, India was not ruled by its native people for hundreds of years long before the fist English man set foot in India.

      You should also take a visit to a lot of your own USA museums you’ll find so called ‘plunder’ from India & cross the world sitting in your own door step, next time your in New York go visit your wonderful private & public museums/galleries.

      The UK galleries/museums lead the way & have strict rules of law about antiquity & art a lot written long time back at the start of the British museum, the very strict self-imposed laws that UK follows are followed by most European countries but a lot of these laws are not followed by USA private & public museums/galleries. One basic rule is you must show unbroken paper trail of legal ownership of everything that sits on your wall, this paper trail ownership goes back hundreds of years for many items that sit on European walls.

      It is not perfect but even the most controversial art works & antiquity in Europe has paper work that proves from first point of sale to its final ownership it belongs to that gallery & museum (& yes some people forget they lost the rights long a go to the most controversial art works & antiquity which originated from their country because they sold it on or it didn’t belong actually belong to them).

      There are many pieces of artwork in the USA, which by the standard of others should not be in the USA & other countries.

      I also remind you a lot of newspapers like the New York Times & UK Guardian proved (& I don’t mean to be disrespectful) USA soldiers (not ally soldiers) within months at the beginning of last Iraq war damaged, vandalised & plundered some of the oldest ancient sites known to mankind.

      So please as much as I am sorry what the British empire did wrong & as much as I respect USA & its lovely people (& my own USA family) do not bad mouth others when your own country is built out of territory won with blood, bought from the likes of the Russian Empire, territory that you know as the United States.

      We all can be too busy throwing mud at each other when we should all be learning from each other.

      July 7, 2011 at 6:22 am | Report abuse |
  7. Crocker

    You have people still living in straw huts and scrounging for food in the dirt. But the Temple is doing well it seems......

    July 5, 2011 at 12:29 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Honest Truth

    It's simply absurd to hoard such wealth with so many millions in poverty. What a disgusting government.

    July 5, 2011 at 1:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dustin Finnegan

      Don't we pump millions into churches, scientology? Last I heard we have quite a poverty problem as well-don't be so quick to judge. Why doesn't the Vatican give away all their money instead of squandering it.

      July 5, 2011 at 2:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • Expat

      Read the article. It is a treasure find. Until now the government had no idea it existed.

      July 5, 2011 at 4:28 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Gordon

    Goldman Sachs will get their hands it, don't worry. It will take them just a few years. Some bad debts here, a war or two there, and bingo!

    July 5, 2011 at 1:20 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Rumi

    Sell everything and give the money to the poor

    July 5, 2011 at 1:36 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Winyan Staz

    As to slavery..it is alive and well in America...but hidden behind "privatized" prison/plantation walls where prisoners work for 12 cents an hour but must "buy" everything from the company store.. Where well over 2/3 of the prisoner/slaves are people of color...and are there due to the War on Drugs....So don't point fingers at other nations practicing slavery as terrible as it is..but instead...lets all work on cleaning our OWN society up.

    July 5, 2011 at 4:45 pm | Report abuse |
  12. kids having kids

    sell that s**t and feed the pariahs in India. What's all that bling bling doing lying 6 feet beneath a temple in india, dont those temple goers there know that while they ooooom, there r kids being born on the street, growing up on the street an dying on the street in calcutta and other slums never having known love or what it is not to be simulteneously hungry, sick, homeless and rejected every living moment! The only thing that glitters is love and compassion!

    July 5, 2011 at 6:05 pm | Report abuse |
  13. CoffeePartyMember

    $ 11 billion. Did they have a valuer, or just some wide guest. The number sounds somewhat inflated.

    July 6, 2011 at 12:50 am | Report abuse |
    • Prasoon

      Well the actual number is $22 billion, with two more vaults to go!

      July 6, 2011 at 3:57 pm | Report abuse |
  14. vonjoballs

    ain't it amazing the temple's keeper and devotees hasn't known of this treasure trove, huh!

    July 6, 2011 at 7:19 pm | Report abuse |
  15. M Tagore

    We should take the treasure of our temples, Harvard and Yale, which amount to billions of dollars and distribute it to the poor.

    July 6, 2011 at 9:41 pm | Report abuse |
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