The statues, some made in gold, and a jaw-dropping array of jewels have been discovered at the 16th-century Sri Padmanabhaswamy temple in Thiruvananthapuram. (Kerala temple treasure: Should God's riches be used for public good?)
The vaults of the temple, sealed for close to 150 years, according to some estimates, have been opened on the instructions of the Supreme Court after a local city lawyer alleged poor security and mismanagement by the trust that handles the temple. (See Pics)
Much of the treasure is believed to have been deposited by the royal family of Travancore. After Independence, descendants of the royal family continue to control the temple, which honours Lord Vishnu. (Forum: What should be done with Kerala temple treasure?)
The inventory of the treasure is being supervised by two former judges of the Kerala High Court, appointed observers by the Supreme Court. Representatives of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) and members of the temple trust were also present as the vaults were unsealed. The Supreme Court reprimanded one of the observers for speaking to the media.
The Supreme Court also said today that it wants to appoint an expert to suggest ways in which the treasure can be preserved. It will give further directions on Friday on this matter.