$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. rnicholas

    i imagine that looters, other criminals and "criminally minded" people inside and outside india are kicking themselves in their derrières for missing an "opportunity" to burglarize that place. the 10 billion dollar treasure may have been there undiscovered for 150 years? the tombs of egypt should be so lucky!

    July 4, 2011 at 4:01 pm | Report abuse |
  2. tonyl

    Maybe US can get a loan from the state of kerala India to bail us out of the financial crises. In return US can keep buying the junk India unloads on the US shores in exports to US. Also we will continue to ship all the jobs to India for cheap labor.

    July 4, 2011 at 4:04 pm | Report abuse |
  3. shroojo

    @blinder. Seriously, "no real value other than monetary value?" Did you not read the article? "Solid-gold human figurines and idols", those are our gods. "Crowns and pendants"; those are what our former kings and queens used to wear. Not to mention these are extremely RARE and ANTIQUES! India lost a lot of its historical temples, mosques, churches and all of their rare jewellery and artefacts during the British rule and wars, this is just a fraction of what was initially there. The fact that its finally been found is HUGE in India; there is A LOT of emotional and sentimental value to this "treasure". Yes there are poor people and they are slowly but surely being helped. What you don't know is the huge impact religion has on Indians. I guarantee you many Indians would be extremely angry if the government sold all of these rare findings to make some money rather than preserving what little is left of our history.

    July 4, 2011 at 4:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • blinder

      @Shroojo I understand the religious and historical significance of the discovery, but what's more important when it comes down to it; a chunk of metal/shiny rock or feeding a family for a year? I'm not suggesting that the government sell the artifacts off though, I wouldn't trust any government in the world to do that and actually put the funds to good use. I would just hope that the temple operators would find some way to sell them to a museum(though more likely they'd go to a private collector, unfortunately) and use the income to expand programs to help the needy, but from the article it looked like they planned to just lock everything back up.

      July 4, 2011 at 4:23 pm | Report abuse |
  4. AC

    Tell George Bush and Chemey. Those clowns can start another war.

    July 4, 2011 at 4:08 pm | Report abuse |
  5. AC


    July 4, 2011 at 4:09 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Archer

    They should call ISIS

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

    Oh Boy..The fight for "property rights"
    is ON~!!!

    July 4, 2011 at 4:09 pm | Report abuse |
  8. AC

    Taxes, Taxes, Taxes

    July 4, 2011 at 4:10 pm | Report abuse |
  9. john

    we should go over and take it. pay us back some of the money they steal from us in jobs and terrorism protection.

    July 4, 2011 at 4:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • mayur

      Brother... India is not steeling the jobs of US..but providing the work for cheaper price...and because of such global economic business strategies.. commodities are available for lower price..otherwise..U might be buying the shirts for 200$/shirt.

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

      Since when has the US protected India? Perhaps ur thinking of Pakistan?

      July 5, 2011 at 5:14 am | Report abuse |
  10. MM

    the money will go towards buying luxury cars for the greedy corrupt politicians and their criminally inclined worthless offsprings.
    That is how India works.
    buying luxury cars like, porsche, jaguar, bagautti, Bmw, mercedes is the new fad for the rich indians as a status symbol.
    The corrupt politicians now have the money to join in.

    July 4, 2011 at 4:11 pm | Report abuse |
  11. ELV1S

    Indians are weak veggies .
    They have had many Scientific achievents But Can ANYONE NAME A COUNTRY which INDIA INVADED????
    In 4,000 years of History Only Emperor ASHOKA brought A United Nation Imagine that . India was always country of Rich Hundreds of smaller Kingdoms & Maharajas, They never had a Great Army, that's why they never Conquered, always were Looted by foreigners.....

    July 4, 2011 at 4:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • SS

      Yeah them being a peaceful people really irks me. Id10t.

      July 4, 2011 at 4:26 pm | Report abuse |
  12. AkashKaySajith

    The current market value of the articles found so far by the committee members would be roughly 1000 billion rupees ($22bn). Now this is an estimate, if you take the antique value g this treasure, its gonna be 10 times the weight price.

    July 4, 2011 at 4:12 pm | Report abuse |
  13. tonyl

    This is a Indian mafia and crooks dream come true, they will steal the treasure. The temple will not be able to protect unless keep armed guards 24 hours a day and protect the treasure in steel vaults. It will be interesting to see how they go about protecting the temple and the treasure. They can always keep thousands of poisonous snakes in the vaults to protect anyone to get near.

    July 4, 2011 at 4:16 pm | Report abuse |
  14. tonyl

    Every Indian is now rich.

    July 4, 2011 at 4:18 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Indian

    Britishers must be wishing if they could rewind the time machine by just 60 years, to the era of British rule.

    July 4, 2011 at 4:19 pm | Report abuse |
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