Indian holy man’s dream leads to €37bn treasure hunt
Digging begins under 16th century temple after local man dreams about 1,000 tons of buried gold and silver
Onlookers at the site where archaeologists are digging for treasure secreted beneath the ruins of a 19th-century fort in northern India after a local holy man claimed dreamt that 1,000 tons of gold was buried there. Photograph: Reuters
Archaeologists began digging for treasure worth more than €37 billion secreted beneath the ruins of a 19th-century fort in northern India yesterday after a local holy man claimed that a former king appeared to him in a dream and told him of the hoard.
The treasure hunt began recently in impoverished Daundia Khera village in Uttar Pradesh province, some 540km southeast of New Delhi, after Hindu swami Shobhan Sarkar relayed his dream to an Indian government minister who then persuaded the authorities to excavate.
According to Sarkar, the spirit of King Rao Ram Baksh Singh, who was executed by the colonial administration for participating in the 1857 mutiny against British rule, revealed that more than 1,000 tons of gold and silver coins and gems lay buried under the ancient temple inside the decaying village fort.
At the weekend, geological and archaeological officials using sophisticated probes surveyed the fort amid heavy security and claimed to have found traces of some heavy, non-magnetic metal underground. This prompted them to begin excavating the area.
No modern amenities
Daundia Khera residents, who have no access to electricity or basic modern amenities, claim to have known about the treasure from stories told by their elders. Some even claimed to have found silver and gold coins in the area, providing a hint of things to come.
“No one knew exactly where the treasure was until the late king visited the swami in his sleep,” Sarkar’s disciple Om Ji said. In anticipation of the vast treasure being recovered, a number of claimants have emerged.
One such petitioner is Navchandi Veer Pratap Singh, who claims to be a descendent of the king. Locals, however, privately question his ancestry because the king had two daughters who committed suicide after he was executed leaving behind no offspring.
Even the provincial government maintains it has a right to the wealth. “The treasure should be used for the state’s development,” said local legislator Kuldeep Senger. Uttar Pradesh has a population of more than 200 million and is India’s most densely inhabited state and its least developed.
Over decades, Indian temples – where devotees still donate vast amounts of gold and jewellery in a bid to have their wishes fulfilled – have emerged as vast treasure repositories.
Two years ago, a treasure trove worth more than a billion euro was recovered from a secret underground chamber in a 16th-century Hindu temple in southern Kerala state that had remained unopened for nearly 140 years.
Gold and silver bullion including 17kg of coins dating back to the East India Company and the Napoleonic era, precious stones wrapped in silk bundles and thousands of intricate pieces of diamond and emerald-studded jewellery formed part of the cache.