Temple reveals fabulous treasure

July 5, 2011 at 7:15 AM
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NEW DELHI, July 5 (UPI) -- The ages-old vaults of a Hindu temple in India have revealed a fabulous treasure trove, the value of which may exceed tens of billions of dollars, experts say.

A court-ordered seven-member inspection committee has been opening the vaults of the massive Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple in Thiruvananthapuram, capital of the southern state of Kerala, for an inventory. What has been discovered so far in five of the six vaults have stunned even the experts.

The treasures found in the vaults have included precious gems including rubies, sapphires, emeralds and pearls, replicas of coconut shells made of gold, hundreds of thousands of gold and silver coins, some centuries old, gold chains as long as 18 feet, solid-gold human figurines and idols, crowns and pendants, and gold and silver bars, CNN said, citing local reports.

A cursory valuation of the treasure, not taking into account antique, heritage, historical and other factors, has already exceeded $21 billion.

The BBC quoted historians as saying assessing the true value would be extremely difficult.

The inventory was ordered by India's Supreme Court to ensure proper security and protection.

A decision on whether open the sixth vault was to be taken later this week, the Indian Express reported.

The BBC said the vault has an inner iron wall and inspectors were only able to open its outer doors. Temple records say the last time the vault was opened was 136 years ago.

Sources told Indian Express when the sixth vault is opened, the contents could push the valuation so high, it would make the temple the richest in the world.

The Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple, honoring MahaVishnu, one of the three principal Hindu gods, was built in the 16th century by the rulers of Travancore Kingdom, currently part of Kerala state. The rulers have been placing treasure -- some going back much earlier -- in the vaults.

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