4 Jul 2011

Riches unearthed at Indian temple

12:00 pm on 4 July 2011

Treasure thought to be worth billions of rupees has been discovered in underground vaults of a temple in the southern state of Kerala.

A large gold statue studded with emeralds, pieces of gold and silver jewellery, diamonds and crowns covered with precious stones are among valuables found at Sree Padmanabhaswamy temple, the BBC reports.

The riches are thought to have been languishing in the temple vaults for more than a century, interred by the Maharajahs of Travancore over time.

They have not been officially valued and inspectors are taking an inventory.

Inspectors say they will continue cataloguing the treasure for at least one more week.

Unofficial estimates say that the treasure discovered so far over four days of inspections may be valued at more than 25 billion rupees ($US500 million).

However historians say that assessing the true value of these objects is likely to be extremely difficult.