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The treasure hunt

 | July 13, 2012

It is reported that a Swiss man told a 'legal heir' to the Pandya dynasty that considerable treasure which once belonged to the Tamil kings was stashed away in Swiss banks.

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Man has been hunting for hidden treasure since the beginning of mankind. And the hunt has been immortalised in books and films.

Gregory Peck and Omar Sharif went kidnapping and killing to find wealth on the mountains of Colorado in the film, “Mackenna’s Gold”.

Robert Louis Stevenson traced the life of pirates and their quest for hidden fortune in “Treasure Island”, an 1883 novel that went on to become a classic read.

Modern Indians appear to be on a similar pursuit.

Some months ago, we saw the nation riveted to stories of the fabled treasure vaults of the Sri Padmanabhaswamy Temple in Kerala’s capital city, Thiruvananthapuram.

It was said that the crypts there, centuries old, contained a fabulous amount of gold and silver whose value was placed at thousands of crores of Indian rupees.

The latest treasure hunt leads to Swiss banks.

Some descendants of the Pandya dynasty, an ancient Tamil empire which existed between the 13th century AD and 15th century in southern India, are now looking for wealth, which they claim belonged to their forefathers and are lying in banks in Switzerland.

These descendants have asked the Madras High Court to help them regain their lost inheritance.

It is reported that a Swiss man, who married an Indian woman and lived in Chennai, told a “legal heir” to the Pandya dynasty that considerable treasure which once belonged to the Tamil kings was stashed away in Swiss banks. The Swiss national is also said to have assured the heir that he could help him retrieve the wealth.

The heir then moved the court to facilitate the Swiss to follow the trail of treasure.

But then like so many of these mysterious gold hunts, the Swiss died in an accident back home – tragically without revealing anything.

The drama then took on a complex form. A woman, claiming to be the daughter-in-law of the last descendant of the Pandyas, sought legal help to find the treasure. (It was later found that she was the sister-in-law of the Swiss man.)

A third character then appeared on the stage. She was from Maharashtra who said that her father had the power of attorney given to him by the heir. The heir vehemently denied this.

The daughter-in-law/sister-in-law called the heir a cheat. He was in no way related to the dynasty, she charged.

The court directed the Chennai police to probe these claims and counter-claims. The police in their report said that there could be Pandyan wealth in Swiss banks.

However, early this week, the whole episode took on a strange hue. The heir claimed his right over 104 pieces of property in Chennai, and they included some of the city’s most important landmarks like star hotel and colleges.

The court must have got exasperated with all these twists and turns, and has now warned the heir and his lawyer that they will be penalised if their assertions were found untrue.

It may not be a fact at all that Pandya treasure is stashed away in Switzerland, but it has been alleged in various points of time that Indians have huge amounts of money stashed away in Swiss banks.

There have been demands to bring the wealth – reportedly earned illegally – back home. But no political party has ever seriously or sincerely tried doing this.

For, one would suppose that just about every party and its members, at least some of them, have bank accounts on the pristine snows of Switzerland.

But what is the use of frozen treasure?

Gautaman Bhaskaran is a Chennai-India based author, columnist and film critic, and can be contacted at [email protected]. He is an FMT columnist.


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