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Saturday, July 23, 2011

Kerala Temple Treasure: SC Sets up Panel to Decide on Final Vault

Thiruvananthapuram, The Sri Ananathapadmanabha Swamy Temple in Thiruvananthapuram, which came into limelight after tons of gold, diamonds and precious idols were found in its secret vaults, is still home to more treasure in its sixth vault which remains unopened.

The issue of opening the last and final vault has been under much debate, with all kinds of stories making the rounds, including one that it portends bad omen and must therefore remain closed.

The Supreme Court had earlier ruled that until an inventory is prepared of the Rs one lac crore-plus treasure already found at the temple and adequate security measures are taken, the vault shall not be opened.

Now, the Apex Court has formed a committee to decide whether the sixth vault should be opened or not.

The five-member panel will discuss issues like how to go about the inventory, and how to document the treasure, besides taking into consideration the sentiments of the devotees regarding the opening of the last vault. It will also decide on what items could be put on public display.

The panel, headed by Dr CV Ananda Bose from the National Museum, includes representatives of the Reserve Bank of India and the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI).

The five vaults opened so far have brought world-wide attention to the temple. Treasure worth over Rs one lac crore was found in the vaults, most of it believed to be belonging to the erstwhile royal family of Travancore. The issue of who the treasure belongs to is still under debate, and so also the problem of providing adequate security.

The vaults were opened after T P Sunderarajan, a former IPS officer, petitioned in the Supreme Court to make an evaluation of the treasure stored in the Temple's underground. Sunderarajan died on July 17, adding more fuel to the local superstition surrounding the Temple's treasure.

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