Gold, diamonds and precious stones found in ante-chamber to one of the 6 vaults

A treasure trove of gold, diamonds and precious stones — unofficially estimated at hundreds of crores of rupees — was unearthed from an ante-chamber to one of the six vaults in Sree Padmanabhaswamy temple here on Thursday.

More than 1200 ‘Sarappalli' golden chains (some sporting ‘navaratnas'), three golden crowns, numerous golden staffs, golden plates, a chain of golden coins of 1732 vintage, diamonds, including Belgium diamonds, and precious stones, including ‘cat's eye', rubies and emeralds, were among the articles found inside vault A located on the southern side of the ‘Nalambalam' inside the Chandanamandapam. One gold chain was found to weigh more than three kg.

Only a portion of the items found inside the vault by the Supreme Court panel engaged in an inventory could be counted and weighed by Thursday night. The counting and weighing of the gold articles and precious stones were done inside the Chandanamandapam.

A preliminary inspection of vault A on Wednesday had revealed it to be almost empty. However, when personnel of the fire and rescue service removed large stones, the entrance to a subterranean ante-chamber was revealed. Of the three steps that led to the ante-chamber, the first was constructed in such a manner that a person could not either climb down or back up without assistance.

When the ante-chamber was inspected at first, only large quantities of what appeared to be mud were found. This was transported up in about a dozen large sacks. Very soon it became evident that the ‘mud'— which could also contain the remnants of the containers in which the precious items were stored — contained articles of immeasurable value. These were sorted out and shifted to a few sacks. So far the contents of only three or four sacks have been counted and weighed.

Consequent to Thursday's find, security in and around the temple has been strengthened. The Chandanamandapam area — which houses vaults A and B — has been completely sealed off and security personnel stationed around it.

The inventorying of vault A would continue on Friday.