$11 Billion Treasure Revealed Beneath Temple In India: Solid-Gold Human Figurines, Coconut Shells Made Of Pure Gold, Gold Chains As Long As 18 Feet, Rubies, Sapphires, Emeralds, Pearls, Hundreds Of Thousands Of Gold And Silver Coins

$11 billion treasure revealed beneath temple in India (CNN, July 4, 2011):

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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