It may sound bizarre, but it’s true. The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) will begin excavation at a dilapidated fort in Unnao district from Friday under elaborate security arrangements to confirm whether the huge underground gold deposit that a local ‘sant’ has dreamt of actually exists. The treasure that the sant has talked of is no ordinary repository – it’s estimated to be one thousand tonnes, enough to recharge the country’s sagging economy and value of the rupee against the US dollar. (India’s present gold reserve is 614 tonnes.)
The sant Shobhan Sarkar, known to have preternatural powers, recently wrote to the Unnao district magistrate (DM), the state government and Union minister of state Charan Das Mahant that the erstwhile Raja of Daudiyakheda estate Raja Rao Ram Baksh Singh had told him in a dream that 1,000 tonnes of gold was buried under the fort, and that it should be handed over to the government.
While local officials and the state government perhaps took it as a joke, the Union minister, well aware of Sarkar’s uncanny powers, asked the ASI to look into it. The ASI’s preliminary survey established that there was indeed a huge deposit of some metal under the ground at the spot the ‘sant’ had indicated.
Though ASI personnel connected with this survey are tight-lipped about the findings, an official said on condition of anonymity that digging between 10 and 20 metres had revealed the presence of “highly conductive” material which could be either gold or silver. “The magnetic frequency we got in the area indicates that the material could be over a thousand tones,” he said.
Raja Rao Ram Baksh Singh is a legendary figure in the area and there are many fables connected to him. The king is known to have fought off the British forces in 1857. After the British suffered heavy casualties, they returned with reinforcements and virtually reduced the fort to ruins with heavy canon fire. The Raja was caught and hanged to death.
According to local folklore, says Ajay Pal Singh, village head of Sangrampur under which the Daudiyakheda estate falls, the Raja had a foreboding of his end at the hands of the British, and had already buried his treasure. Sant Shobhan Sarkar has told the Union minister that the Raja’s spirit was still wandering around the fort, and that it would not be free unless the treasure is taken over by the government. This is what one of the sant’s old disciples Om Ji Maharaj told the media since Sarkar has strictly refused to meet any journalist or allow any camera or mobile inside his ashram.
Though the reality of the treasure will be revealed only after the excavation, locals are ready with a wish list already. In a letter to the Unnao DM, village pradhan Ajay Pal Singh has said 20% of the treasure should be spent on developing the area. The demand list includes a railway station, hospital, engineering college, industrial area, solar power plant and a Central government job for one member of each family in the village.