Indian temple committee banned from speaking to press after discovery of hidden jewels

09:31, July 07, 2011      

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The Indian Supreme Court on Wednesday barred members of the committee from speaking to the press on who the owner of the jewelry mysteriously hidden in the Shri Padmnabhaswamy temple is.

The Supreme Court heard a petition from the Travancore royal family which wants details of the temple treasure not to be made public.

The Supreme Court had earlier appointed the seven-member committee to take stock of the treasure found at the temple.

The Supreme Court issued a statement saying, "There should be videography and photography of the evaluation process of the inventory."

The Court has proposed appointment of a curator of a museum to preserve the treasure being unearthed from the temple.

"Take help of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) in appointing a curator as to where the jewelry should be kept," the Court said.

The committee members including two former Kerala High Court judges were asked to prepare an inventory list of all the valuables inside six different chambers.

A week after the stock-taking process began at the temple in Kerala, two more vaults will be opened Monday. The value of the treasure found at the temple is estimated to be over 100 billion rupees (2 billion U.S. dollars).

Now there are fears about the safety of the priceless wealth found inside the temple chambers. The security forces are expected to guard the temple premises following the discovery.

The temple, one of the oldest in Kerala, may soon turn out to be one of the India's richest.

The chambers are believed to contain priceless gold and silver ornaments. The chambers had been kept shut for the last 130 years but were finally opened on June 27 following a Supreme Court order.

One of the chambers believed to have remained shut for nearly a century revealed precious jewels, stones, ornaments and metal lamps of rare heritage and antique values when it was opened and examined last Thursday.

The inner recess of this chamber was believed to have previously been opened during the reign of Travancore ruler Sree Visakham Tirunal about 130 years ago.

The opening of the first four chambers showed that three of them housed gold ornaments, vessels, jewels and precious stones.

The temple, built in 18th century by King Marthanda Varma of the Travancore royal lineage, is run by a trust under control of the Travancore Royal house.

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