I was recently traveling extensively throughout India and was excited to visit Thiruvananthapuram on the southwest coast, filled with British colonial architecture and lined by popular beaches. What intrigued me about the area was the excitement in the Indian press and throughout the region of the mass treasures that were unearthed at the famed Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple. Visiting the temple, I was awestruck at its decadence and gold-plated glory. This was after all the richest temple in the world. After my visit, it was announced that a hidden treasure vault had been discovered beyond the already well-documented Vault B inside. Adding to recent treasure findings in several other vaults, the researchers are estimating could total over $1 trillion. But that is where the problem starts, nobody wants to dare open the hidden inner sanctum.
Like all hidden treasure stories, Kerala’s Shree Padmanabhaswamy Temple has been a fascination in India for many years, and one shrouded in mystery and fear. Two enormous Cobras are rumored to be protecting the innermost hidden chamber. To make matters worse, legend has it that anyone who opens the vault will be met with disastrous results.The mysterious Vault B has kept everyone at bay for many years, although five other vaults were opened in 2011 by a team approved by the Supreme Court. The inventory unveiled a major priceless treasure. Massive piles of jewels, idols, and coins were uncovered. The myth of Vault B and its dangers were recently discounted when the Auditor General Vinod Rai informed the Supreme Court that Vault B had been opened at least seven times to his knowledge since 1990 and nothing horrific happened.
According to the India Times, an audit conducted into the assets of the famed Sree Padmanabhaswamy temple in Kerala's Thiruvananthapuram has shown that a massive amount of gold from its repositories has mysteriously disappeared. Up to 769 Gold Pots and Silver bars have been reported missing. Some skeptics are also suggesting that there is a hidden tunnel beneath the chamber that allowed the architects to lock the chamber doors from within, making it impossible to breach. This secret tunnel could invariably have led to many years of plundering the treasure trove without anyone noticing. (UPDATED 8/22/16)
An expert panel inventorying assets at the Temple has approached the apex court for permission to open the vault, as per a report in Hindustan Times. The report also added that the Travancore royal family along with a section of devotees and the shrine’s administration opposed the opening of the B-vault but may lose their fight to an expected Supreme Court ruling.
Vault B door with Cobra guardians
What has not been acknowledged by the Indian Court is the existence of a hidden inner chamber beyond Vault B. This chamber is historical told to have thick walls made of solid gold and it is where the mystery really exists and could contain the largest undiscovered treasure find in the history of the world.Sree Padmanabhaswamy temple is a Hindu temple dedicated to Lord Vishnu. The shrine is currently run by a trust headed by the royal family of Travancore. The temple and its assets belong to Lord Padmanabhaswamy and were for a long time controlled by a trust headed by the Travancore Royal family. However, now the Supreme Court of India has removed the Travancore Royal Family from leading the management of the temple.
The temple is one of 108 centers of worship in Vaishnavism. The temple is renown from the early medieval Tamil literature (6th–9th centuries), with structural additions to it made throughout the 16th century, when its ornate Gopuram was constructed.
The Temple is a replica of the famous Sri Adikesavaperumal Temple at Thiruvattar, and only Hindus are allowed entry. In the temple, Sri Padmanabha reclines on the serpent Anantha or Adi Sesha. The serpent has five hoods facing inwards, signifying contemplation. The Lord's right hand is placed over a Shiva lingam. Sridevi, the Goddess of Prosperity and Bhudevi the Goddess of Earth, two consorts of Vishnu are by his side. Brahma emerges on a lotus, which emanates from the navel of the Lord. The platforms in front of the Vimanam and where the deity rests, are both carved out of a single massive stone cut out of a rock measuring 20 feet square and 2.5 feet thick.
Among the six chambers in the Temple, Chamber B is very closely associated with Sri Padmanabhaswamy. It is not a part of the Temple Treasury. The holy Chamber houses an idol of Sri Padmanabha and many valuables meant to enhance the potency of the Principal Deity.
The Supreme Court of India and its seven-member committee have already opened six of the secret vaults and have discovered at a depth of 20 feet underground approximately $22 billion in treasure including, golden idols, golden elephants and idols wearing 18 foot diamond necklaces, as well as countless bags of gold coins from around the world and ceremonial costumes included 66 pound solid gold coconut shells studded with rubies and emeralds.
Treasure discovered in one of the earlier chambers
In an inventory list from August 2014, Vault A contained 2,000 pounds of gold coins, dating to around 200 B.C. Also found, was a pure Golden Throne adorned with hundreds of diamonds and fully precious stones, meant as a seat for the 18-foot-long Deity. In additional solid gold crowns have been found, all studded with diamonds and other precious stones. The valuables are believed to have been accumulated in the temple over several thousands of years, having been donated to the Deity by various Dynasties and Kings.
Chamber B has long been considered by Astrologers of India, as highly mysterious, sacred and too dangerous to unveil it. The enormous steel door of Chamber B has two massive cobras painted on it and has no bolts, latches or any other means of entry. This is mystery straight out of an Indiana Jones movie.
A door of such a secret vault is known to be opened only by a high level ‘SADHUS’ familiar with the knowledge of chanting a ‘GARUDA MANTRA.' The door cannot be opened by any means by anyone, and at present, there is nobody in the world who possesses the highly sacred and powerful ‘SIDDHAPURSHAS’ and how to execute the highly sacred ‘GARUDA MANTRA.'
Sri Padmanabha reclines on the serpent Anantha
If any human attempts are made with man-made technology to open the mysterious inner chamber beyond Chamber B, other than by chanting highly sacred and powerful ‘GARUDA MANTRAS,' it is told that disasters are likely to occur in and around the Temple and throughout India and quite possibly the world.
A book titled ‘Travancore: A guidebook for the visitor’ authored by Emily Gilchrist Hatch recalled a group of people who tried to open the vaults in 1931 and had to flee for their lives when they found the place infested with cobras, and also mentioned a similarly unsuccessful attempt in 1908.
In 2014, journalist Jake Halpern with The New Yorker Magazine conducted extensive interviews with the people who opened the vaults and said “The doors to Vaults A and B required multiple keys, which had been entrusted to Varma and the temple’s current executive, V. K. Harikumar. The observers used the keys to open the metal-grille door to Vault B, and discovered a sturdy wooden door just behind it. They opened this door as well and encountered a third door, made of iron, which was jammed shut. So they turned their attention to Vault A. Once again, they unlocked two outer doors, one of metal and the other of wood. They entered a small room with a huge rectangular slab on the floor, like a toppled tombstone. It took five men more than thirty minutes to move the slab. Beneath it they found a narrow, pitch-black passage, barely wide enough for an adult to get through, leading down a short flight of steps. It was just like the “hollow covered by a stone” previously described by a British missionary. Before the observers descended, a team of firemen arrived and used special equipment to pump oxygen into the enclosure. At the bottom of the stairs was the vault."
Interior of the temple
One of the observers was a fifty-nine-year-old attorney named M. Balagovindan, who was Sundararajan’s personal lawyer and a trusted friend. He recalled his first glimpse of the treasure: “When they removed the granite stone, it was almost perfectly dark, except for a small amount of light coming in through the doorway behind us. As I looked into the darkened vault, what I saw looked like stars glittering in a night sky when there is no moon. Diamonds and gems were sparkling, reflecting what little light there was. Much of the wealth had originally been stored in wooden boxes, but, with time, the boxes had cracked and turned to dust. And so the gems and gold were just sitting in piles on the dusty floor. It was amazing.”
According to Rajan, the observers instructed temple employees to haul everything from Vault A upstairs, for inspection. It took fifteen men all day. Rajan said that beholding the treasure was a “divine moment.” There were countless gold rings, bangles, and lockets, many encrusted with gems. And there were gold chains, each studded with jewels and eighteen feet long—the length of the main idol. Rajan told me that coin experts estimated that the vault held approximately a hundred thousand gold coins, spanning centuries of trade: Roman, Napoleonic, Mughal, Dutch. He also described seeing a set of solid-gold body armor, known as an Angi, built to adorn the main idol.
The vault also contained loose diamonds, rubies, emeralds, and other precious stones. According to Balagovindan, the most impressive gems were the large diamonds, some of which were a hundred and ten carats—“the size of a large thumb,” as he put it. The archaeologists and gemologists estimated that a small solid-gold idol of Vishnu, encrusted with hundreds of gems, was worth thirty million dollars.”
Today the Sri Padmanabhaswamy temple is now protected by metal detectors, security cameras, and more than two hundred guards, some of whom are equipped with machine guns.
On November 11, 2015, the court was submitted a 500-page report pointing out instances of grave mismanagement and theft of the discovered gold in a very controlled corrupt manner by the temple management. The investigation is currently in process and could end up in the higher courts or shelved completely. The fear of the unknown is very real in India, and even Supreme Court judges are not immune to its legend.
Armed guards protect the temple