NEW DELHI, India (July 5, 2011) - Five of six secret chambers at a Kerala Hindu temple have already revealed centuries-old treasure in gold, silver and stone worth over $20 billion.
The accumulated treasure trove came from offerings made to the temple by devotees for the last 500 years and lied in secret vaults now labeled A to F.
Experts authorized by India's supreme court have opened 5 chambers and listed inventories consisting of gold idols, jewelries studded with diamonds,emeralds and other precious stones, antique silvers and two coconut shells studied with rubies and emeralds valued at £12 billion ($20.2 billion).
The remaining vault, vault B, has a special lock that authorities do not like to destroy and help of additional experts is needed to complete the total inventory.
The temple was built in the 10th century, but the present structure dates back only to the 18th century when King Marthanda Varma expanded and consolidated the Travancore kingdom. Offerings to the Lord Vishnu, in the form of gold and jewellery, have come not only from Kerala royalties but also from millions of ordinary devotees.
The vaults were last opened in the 1930s when Travancore rulers carried out the last inventory. India's supreme court ordered a new inventory of the treasure after a lawyer challenged the present head of the former Travancore royal family on matters pertaining to management and claims of inadequate security of the temple wealth.
Kerala residents are celebrating the discovery of the treasure, but it shall not be monetized for public benefit after Kerala's chief minister Oommen Chandy has rejected the demand for this. "It belongs to the Padmanabha Swamy temple and will be preserved there," he said.
No one is allowed to film or photograph the operation that proceeds under heavy police security. Taking pictures inside sacred areas is strictly prohibited. (From philstar.com, Vox Bikol)