— THIRUVANANTHAPURAM, India - A huge treasure has been found in a Hindu temple in southern India — gold and silver jewelry, coins and precious stones worth billions of dollars, Indian officials said Saturday.
The AFP news agency quoted Kerala Chief Secretary K. Jayakumar as saying the find had been estimated as worth more than $11 billion.
He said archaeological officials would have to examine the discovery in detail to determine its actual value.
The treasure was found in at least five underground vaults of the Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple, known for its sculptures, AFP reported. The temple is in southern Kerala state, near the tip of the subcontinent.
Jayakumar told AFP that one more secret chamber remained to be opened.
According to Wikipedia, the temple was dedicated to the god Vishnu, and the foundation of the current tower was laid beginning in 1566.
AFP said devotees had been donating to the vaults for hundreds of years. A necklace found this week was said to be 18 feet long.
Since India's independence from Britain in 1947, APF said, the temple has been controlled by a trust managed by descendants of the Travancore royal family.
But the Supreme Court recently ordered that the temple be brought under state control.
The news of the treasure has prompted a heightened police presence, Kerala director general of police Jacob Punnoose told AFP that a commando force for security was in the planning.