Are there underground tunnels leading out from the historic Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple here? Or are legends of such subterranean conduits leading to various parts of the capital city just that, legends?

A conclusive and scientific answer to this question may only be a month away as a team of scientists from the Centre for Earth Science Studies prepares to analyse the data gathered by it over the past three weeks from a ‘resistivity study' of the temple's premises and immediate surroundings.

CESS team leader R. Ajaykumar Varma told The Hindu on Tuesday that the first phase of the study, which involves placing an electrode a few inches below the ground and passing direct current through it, would be completed in four to five days.

The resistivity data thus gathered would be analysed to determine the presence of tunnels beneath the temple, which shot to international fame in 2011 following revelations of a huge collection of gold articles, jewellery, diamonds, and other priceless artefacts in its six vaults.

Dr. Varma said the CESS study had its origins, in a manner of speaking, in the legends surrounding the temple. During discussions on the security cover for the temple chaired by Chief Minister Oommen Chandy, police officers reportedly raised concerns over the possibility of underground tunnels leading out of the temple.

Against the backdrop of the revelations about the contents of the temple's vaults, the possibility that someone may succeed in finding and using any subsurface conduits leading to the temple to try and break into the centuries-old vaults was a clear and present danger as far as the State police were concerned. It was during one such meeting that the CESS director offered to undertake a technical study to find out the existence or otherwise of such tunnels.

“It will take about a month for us to interpret the raw data gathered during the study. We will go back and conduct further studies if there are any gaps in the data,” Dr. Varma said. The resistivity study was non-destructive in nature and did not cause any damage to the temple's structures or surroundings, he said.

Vault C to be inspected

A team of engineers will inspect Vault C of the temple on Wednesday to see how it can be strengthened to serve as a long-term storage area for the articles that are now spread over six vaults.

The expert committee set up by the Supreme Court to inventory the temple's vaults has, meantime, completed cataloguing the contents of Vault C. Most of the contents of Vault D have also been documented.

“It takes a lot of time to analyse the gems and golden chains and other jewellery that has gems on them. Once we finish Vault C, we will move on to Vault A,” a source in the temple associated with the inventorying told The Hindu.

The expert committee is scheduled to meet here on June 14 to take stock of the security cover for the temple.