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Beliefnet News

Washington Post: Who owns billion-dollar treasure found in Hindu temple?

by Aseem Shukla

India’s Supreme Court ordered Friday that a security plan be drawn up to protect a treasure estimated at $22 billion discovered in an ancient Hindu temple last week.

It is a story that seems to fulfill every phantasmic imagination of an exotic India. Steven Spielberg’s Indiana Jones, and all of its detestable stereotypes elicited in the Temple of Doom, could not have written a better script. For the news headlines out of India over the last week have breathlessly touted untold treasures tumbling out of a chamber deep from within the inner sanctum of an ancient Hindu temple.

Ruling on a private citizen’s petition, the Supreme Court of India ordered that the vaults of one of South India’s most prominent temples, the Padmanabhaswamy Temple, be opened and the contents within it be catalogued.


Statues of pure gold studded with emeralds and baskets of antique gold coins dating back half a millennium and more have been discovered thus far, and the total value is reportedly being pegged anywhere between $5 and $20 billion.

India as a land of stunning contradictions is as much a tired cliché as it is true.

But what to make of the priceless treasures?

Why would the government demand that the vaults of a private temple be opened?

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  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment vkmo

    Travancore Royal Family owned it, placed it in the temple for devotional safekeeping, for use for his subjects. Bulk of the value of this treasure is in Diamonds and Gold. Until late 19th century, India was the only producer of Diamonds.

    These treasures include Art, Gold, Silver and Jewels -Diamonds, Emeralds, Rubies etc., some set in Jewelry. Note: Per Wikipedia, a Raja of Malwah was the first recorded owner of Kohinoor diamond, but it was seized by Alauddin Khilji who brought it to Delhi around 1295, and subsequently Babar got it in 1526 (along with other treasures) after he conquered Delhi. Nader Shah from Persia attacked India 1739 – got Kohinoor and Peacock throne (along with massive treasures). It returned to Maharaja Ranjit Singh in 1830. British were able to seize it in 1839 (along with other treasures) when they made Punjab part of the British Empire.

    We are in the 21st century now, and it’s time now to carefully photograph this treasure. It should be administered by bank(s) and placed in secure museum(s). Majority of this treasure should stay in Kerala in secure area, but the photographs along with small part of these treasures can be in secure museums in other parts of India and outside India. That would bring devotees and tourists to Kerala, resulting in happy Keralites and happy travelers.

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