Details to be recorded in specially designed computer database

The inventorying of the riches recently found in the underground vaults of the centuries-old Sree Padmanabhaswamy temple, here, would, in all likelihood, begin on November 9.

This was decided at a joint meeting of the Ananda Bose Committee and the M.N. Krishnan supervisory committee constituted by the Supreme Court for this purpose. The committees will meet again on November 4 to take a final call on the date to begin the documentation. The temple authorities will have to specify whether there are any temple festivals or special rituals on November 9.

The workstation inside the temple, where the artefacts will be kept for documentation and assessment of value, is ready. Now, the facility has to be electrified and CCTV cameras installed. The Ananda Bose committee, in its interim report submitted to the Supreme Court, said that each activity associated with the documentation of the temple's assets would be recorded.

Each artefact will be taken out and various details recorded in a specially designed computer database. The item will also be photographed in three-dimensional images and X-Ray fluorescence would be done to identify the metal used for fashioning each artefact. This Digital Archiving of Temple Antiques (DATA) would be done using technology developed by the Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre. The item will be assigned an ‘antique identification number,' with an alphanumeric code of up to 15 characters.

A team of experts — specialists in assessing the commercial and/or antique value of gems, gold and religious artefacts — will assist the Bose Committee in the DATA process. An array of sophisticated equipment will also be used to assess the purity of the gold articles and the gems inside the vaults.

For now, the artefacts in each vault will be documented and put back in the respective vaults. The Bose committee had expressed grave concern that priceless artefacts, precious stones and utensils fashioned out of pure gold were being kept inside plastic bags and iron trunks inside the hot and humid vaults. Now, the documented artefacts would be placed inside wooden boxes specially designed to store metal objects.

Eventually, — maybe after four to six months — all the contents of the six vaults will be shifted to a stand-alone, secure, storage area, built near the underground vaults. The construction of this multi-chamber facility, sporting micro-climate zones, will be financed by the temple administration and built by a specialist agency identified by authorities. From the time the contract for construction is awarded the facility is expected to be ready in four months.

The inventorying of the temple's vaults is expected to be completed in a year.