Indian Temple Treasure Vault to Stay Locked

The final vault of an Indian temple where a 22-billion-dollar hoard of jewels and gold has been found will remain shut until already recovered treasure has been documented, a court said Thursday.

The Supreme Court, which has been overseeing operations at the 16th-century temple in the southern coastal state of Kerala, said the assets should be properly preserved before new work can begin.

Five of six vaults at the Sree Padmanabhaswamy temple have been opened, but the final sealed chamber, known as "vault B", remains shut and is believed to contain even more glittering surprises.

Workers at the temple have already found 450 golden pots, as well as 400 gold chairs and a statue of Lord Vishnu decorated with 1,000 diamonds.

The temple, which has 365 pillars to denote each day of the year, was built hundreds of years ago by the local ruling kingdom of Travancore.

Earlier this month, the Supreme Court panel sharply criticized security surrounding the underground vaults, saying they could be vulnerable to "tunneling attempts".

Source: Agence France Presse

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