Armed police are protecting ancient temples from treasure hunters after a Hindu holy man claimed he had discovered 2,000 tons of gold buried beneath one of them in a dream. Conservationists said his "vision" had started a "gold rush" which is now threatening a number of valuable archeological sites in northern India.
Last night four temples close to Lucknow in Uttar Pradesh were under siege from thousands of prospectors. The rush started when Swami Shobhan Sarkar, a Hindu seer, said the former King of Unnao, Rao Ram Baksh Singh, had come to him and revealed a vast vault of gold below a temple in the grounds of his Daundia Khera fort. His "revelation" attracted vast crowds of local people, as well as local state government officials, who say any treasure belongs in its vaults.
Dr Syed Jamal Hasan, the director of excavation of the Archeological Survey of India, said: "We don't believe in any dream and we're not searching for gold. "There are big crowds, hundreds and thousands of people, surrounding the site. Our police are there and it is under control. They caused damage to some structures with their digging at ancient mounds on the banks of the Ganges."