Because of its reputation as one of the richest temples in the world and the curiosity surrounding the many treasures it holds in its vaults, the Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple in India’s Thiruvananthapuram has been somewhat of an enigma.

Now, on Monday, the Supreme Court of India laid to rest to a decade long legal dispute, granting the erstwhile royal family of Travancore the right to manage the affairs of the temple.

One of the 108 holy temples associated with Vaishnavism in India, the temple’s present structure was built by Travancore Maharaja Marthanda Varma in the 18th century, though historians can trace the temple’s origins to as far back as the 8th century.

But while the temple has been in the news recently for the aforementioned legal dispute, its the six vaults and two sub-terranean vaults beneath it that shroud it in mystery and intrigue.


In 2011, following the setting up of a seven-member panel by the Supreme Court, Vault A was opened by the Gopal Subramanium committee which unearthed treasure amounting to approximately Rs 1,00,000 crore. The vault contained bags of gold coins from the Napoleonic, Roman, medieval, and British eras with some bags weighing up to 800 kilograms.

A solid gold statue of Lord Vishnu was also found – it was naturally studded with diamonds and precious stones. A 28-foot golden throne was also one of the artifacts that was discovered along with a gold ceremonial attire that weighed close to 30 kilograms.

Coconut shelled ornaments decked with diamonds and rubies and precious gems like diamonds, sapphires, and emeralds were also discovered.

According to media reports, while five of the six vaults were opened by the committee, vault B remained untouched – the royal family has long claimed that a mythical curse would be launched if Vault B were to be opened.

Many believe that two enormous cobras and supernatural beings guard Vault B.

(Header credits: Wikimedia Commons)