The Indian government on Friday launched a search for a treasure claimed to be worth nearly $50 billion, after Swami Shobhan Sarkar, a popular Hindu holy man reported to the country’s central bank that he dreamed of 1,000 tons of gold lying buried beneath a fort dating back to the nineteenth century, in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh, or UP.
The Archaeological Survey of India, or ASI, which operates under the Ministry of Culture, dispatched a team to Daundia Khera village in Unnao district in UP tasked with finding the treasure within a timeframe of five weeks. Sarkar said the gold belonged to Rao Ram Bux Singh, a nineteenth-century king, and he reported it because he wants to help the country, as it struggles to revive economic growth and to rein in soaring current account deficit, fueled partially by the import of gold.
“I cried the day I realized that India is going to collapse economically,” Sarkar told the Mail Today. The dead king’s spirit wants people to dig up the gold, he added, and said: “It is a hidden treasure for the country.”
The average daily purchase of gold in India, where the precious metal has significant religious and cultural value, comes to about 2.3 tons, and if the treasure materializes, it would be able to cover India’s gold imports for about a year, according to Reuters.
The Reserve Bank of India, or RBI, has been trying to audit gold holdings of Indian temples, but with little success.
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Archaeologists, however, sought to lower people's hopes and expectations by warning that they are yet to find any proof of treasure in the area.
“We are still searching for the exact location and whether there is any treasure. It is all in the future,” Praveen Kumar Mishra, the head archaeologist in the state, told Reuters. “We often just find pottery and metal antiquities, like agricultural tools or kitchen tools.”
Swami Om, a disciple of the head priest of Shobhan temple in Unnao, said the gold would be found and that they are aware of the “pros and cons” if the gold is not found. “We are men of God and we do not lie. Anyone having any doubt should come along and see it (gold) for real,” he said, according to Hindustan Times.