The mystery surrounding the sixth and last vault of the Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple in the Kerala capital has thickened, with India's Supreme Court directing that the temple's vault "B" be left untouched.
The Supreme Court-appointed committee has looked into five other vaults over the past 10 days.
The committee had not been asked to appraise the value the contents of the different vaults opened so far, and instead only make an inventory of the treasures in the temple.
But having got an estimate of the kind of valuables in the temple's cellars, ranging from 18-feet gold ropes to gold coins from British, Venetian and Napoleonic eras, rough valuations put the wealth of the temple at around Rs1 trillion (Dh82 billion). That valuation also puts the 16th century temple in the Kerala capital, nurtured by the former princely state of Travancore, in line for the status of being the richest shrine in the world.
In a much-awaited directive, the Supreme Court restrained the committee it appointed to make an inventory of the temple's valuables and from opening the last vault. The court directive comes amid speculation that the vault either contains more wealth than has been found in the other vaults, or perhaps contains a secret underground passage that connects the temple with the Travancore palace, the city and the sea. The court has directed the Travancore royal family and the state government to give suggestions for the security of the valuables found in the temple vaults. The case is to come up before the court again on Thursday.
Another decision that is awaited is whether or not the valuables in the temple already taken stock by the Supreme Court-appointed committee, should be videographed.