Trivandrum,July,7: A mesmerizing treasury of gold and silver coins, jewels and precious stones in the Sree Padmanabhan temple of Kerla in India has surprised the world as sealed vaults were opened.
State government has increased security net after the discovery of treasure in recent days; it has once again shown the world about the wealthiest religious institutions in the country.
Till now four vaults recently opened at the Sree Padmanabhan temple in Trivandrum, which was unofficially estimated about $22 billion few more vaults will be opened on July 8 .
The thousands of statues of gods and goddesses made of solid gold and studded with diamonds, emeralds, rubies, and other precious stones, crowns and necklaces, all given as gifts to the god over the centuries.
The quantity of gold and silver coins was so much that the officials involved in counting weighed the coins by the sackful, rather than counting them.
Sree Padmanabhan temple,were built by the maharajas who ruled the then-kingdom of Travancore, remained under the control of the erstwhile royal family of the region after India's independence in 1947.
India's Apex Court ordered the careful inspection of the vaults after a lawyer petitioned a local court asking the Kerla Government to take over the Sree Padmanabhan temple, citing inadequate security. The current Maharaja of Travancore had appealed to the apex Court against the petition.
The inventory opened last week and the final vaults were expected to be unlocked soon. The public are aware about the treasures in temple but the quantum mesmerized everybody.
Before the trove was opened, there was almost no security at the temple, except few local guards patrolling the complex with batons, mainly for the crowd control objective.
Kerala's police have sent extra police officers to the temple and is planning a high-tech security system to protect the treasure soon.
"We plan to enhance security in a manner which will not interfere with the activities of the temple or devotees," Kerala's police chief, Jacob Punnoose said to the media.
Manoj Abraham, police commissioner Trivandrum, said two battalions of special armed police would provide security outside the temple complex.
"Later, we will discuss with temple authorities and members of the former royal family what kind of permanent security system should be put in place," Abraham said.
Every year, devout Hindus donate cash, gold and silver to temples whose value is in millions. Some of the temples in India are so wealthy; they have formed trusts which run schools, colleges and hospitals that offer free treatment to the poor people.
The new discovery Sree Padmanabhan temple has sparked a debate over the future of the treasure trove.
Vellappally Nateshan, a Hindu leader, requested the wealth should remain with the temple authorities.
Some social activists in Kerala have demanded the treasure be handed to a national trust to help the poor people of the country.
Kerala's Chief Minister Oommen Chandy, however, assured the people that the wealth would remain with the temple."It is the property of the temple. The government will protect the wealth at the temple."
Chandy said the government would bear the cost of stepping up security at the temple and ensure that worshippers were not inconvenienced.