India's Supreme Court Takes Steps To Protect $22 Billion Treasure

Jul 6, 2011
Originally published on July 6, 2011 9:24 am

The stunning news Eyder posted Tuesday about a $22 billion treasure in the vaults of a Hindu temple in southern India is followed today by word that:

-- "India's Supreme Court [today] ordered authorities in the southern state of Kerala to set up a museum" to help preserve the treasure, coins and other riches that have accumulated over 500 years. (Bloomberg News)

-- The court also ordered that the treasure "be filmed and photographed." (The Times of India)

That decision may not sit well with the people who worship at the Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple and consider what's inside to be sacred. Many are already upset about the added security — armed police and commandos — around the temple since this week's reports about the riches inside.

More "orders relating to conservation of the artifacts" are expected to be handed down by the court on Friday, The Times of India adds. There's been no final ruling yet on whether any of the riches should be used to help alleviate poverty in India.

Meanwhile, as Eyder noted, there's some concern about whether the last underground vault at the temple should be opened because it could be protected by the "curse of the cobra."

The Hindustan Times writes that:

"The chamber reportedly has a cobra motif on the main door, which according to experts is a warning that the chamber must not be opened. Legend has it that in the early 20th century when famine gripped the state, some officials tried to break open the chambers. But they dropped the idea when they heard sounds of roaring waters.

"Eventually it came to be believed that the subterranean vaults lead to the Arabian sea, which is just [5 kilometers] from the temple.

" 'Officials should not hinder age-old temple customs. We must not anger the presiding deity,' said a 62-year-old local, Lakshmikutty Amma."

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