While renovating a temple near the Kancheepuram district of the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu, a group of villagers struck gold. Last week, locals who had taken on the renovation themselves stumbled upon “ancient gold” hidden under the stairs leading to the temple’s underground sanctorum. The gold valuables found, an assortment of items including a gold chain, weighed an estimated 565 grams.
The locals who found the gold considered it to be an auspicious sign, and wanted to keep the gold in the temple after its renovation was completed. However, on Sunday, Dec. 13, the local police seized the valuables, despite vehement protests and attempts to block the police by the locals.
The villagers have argued that since the gold was found in the temple premises, it belonged to them and the temple. However, after numerous talks to reach an agreement failed, authorities forcibly took the valuable items into police custody and sealed it in a box.
India’s Treasure Trove Act, which was instituted in the pre-colonial era, states that the finder of treasure must report the value, date, time and location to the district collector.
In India, it is common for hidden treasure to turn up in temples. The Padmanabhaswamy temple in the southern Indian state of Kerala made global headlines after a secret treasure worth $1 trillion was found in a hidden vault at the temple in 2011.
In November this year, gold beads were found strewn on a beach in the southern Indian state of Andhra Pradesh following a deadly cyclone.