The riches of the Sree Padmanabhaswamy temple

In a moment straight out of an Indiana Jones film, a panel of officials opened the sealed vaults to the 16th century Sree Padmanabhaswamy temple in the southern Indian state of Kerala finding treasure worth billions of rupees.

The temple, owned by descendents of the Maharajahs of Travancore, has been declared property of the people. It has been sealed and in the hands of the family since India achieved independence in the 19th century. The treasure includes "very old gold chains, diamonds and precious stones which cannot be valued in terms of money," said Anand Padmanaban, counsel for local lawyer Sundar Rajan, who filed the suit for government takeover of the temple.