Is the Archaeological Survey of India Digging for Real or Fool’s Gold?


By T. V. Antony Raj


Every day, Indians buy almost 2.3 tonnes of gold to hoard. However, none of them is keen to deposit their gold, for safe keeping, into the vaults of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI). Even the Hindu temples sitting on about half as much gold as in Fort Knox are not volunteering to have their holdings audited by the RBI.

The BJP prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi while addressing a crowd in Chennai on Friday, October 18, 2013, ridiculed the Centre for deciding to hunt for 1,000 tonnes gold in Unnao, and said India could stand to gain several thousand crores of rupees if it got back the black money stashed in the Swiss banks. Modi said:

The whole world is mocking at us (over the hunt). Somebody had dreamt and the government has started an excavation…the money hidden by thieves and looters of India in foreign banks in Switzerland is much more than 1,000 tonnes of gold.

Where is this place called Unnao?

Connected by roadway as well as by railway to Kanpur 18 km away, and 60 km away from Lucknow, is the town of Unnao, the headquarters of Unnao district, a part of Central Ganges Plain in Uttar Pradesh, India. The town is listed as a municipality of Kanpur Metropolitan Area.

But the real action is taking place in the nondescript hamlet of Daundia Khera in Unnao district.

On Friday, a team of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) began excavations at Unnao Fort searching for a hypothetical treasure of gold that could have been hidden by Raja Rao Ram Baksh, a rich landlord and gold trader who owned a jewellery shop in Kanpur in the early 19th Century.

The Indian Rebellion of 1857 began as a mutiny of Sepoys of the East India Company’s army on May 10, 1857, in the town of Meerut. The rebellion soon escalated into other mutinies, civil disobedience and rebellions largely in the upper Gangetic plain and central India. Major hostilities were confined to present-day Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, northern Madhya Pradesh, and the Delhi region. The rebellion is also known as India’s First War of Independence, the Great Rebellion, the Indian Mutiny, the Revolt of 1857, the Uprising of 1857, the Sepoy Rebellion and the Sepoy Mutiny.


Raja Rao Ram Baksh Singh
Raja Rao Ram Baksh Singh


British historians describe Raja Rao Ram Baksh Singh as a perdurable marauder and outlaw from the Gangetic Plain who joined the rebels only to loot their camps.

On June 4, 1857, a Maratha aristocrat, Nana Sahib’s troops crushed the British army in Kanpur, and the British contingent fled to Unnao, where Raja Rao Ram Singh challenged them. The British hid in a temple of Buxar. When they refused to come out, they were burned alive on the Raja’s command.


General Sir James Hope Grant GCB, painted in 1853 by his brother Francis Grant.
General Sir James Hope Grant GCB, painted in 1853 by his brother Francis Grant.


Enraged over the incident, General Sir James Hope Grant GCB, lured Chandi, one of Raja’s followers to his side and arrested Raja Rao Ram Baksh Singh.

On December 28, 1857, Raja Rao Ram Baksh Singh was hanged to death near the banyan tree at the Shiva temple. His palace, situated near the temple, was destroyed.

Earlier this month, a local seer, Sant Shobhan Sarkar, claimed that the 19th-century king Rao Ram Baksh Singh had appeared in his dream and pointed to a treasure of 1,000 tonnes of gold buried near the Shiva temple where the king worshipped the deity.

A sewak of the seer said that his 55-years-old guru hailed from a Tewari Brahmin family and that he is class 12 pass. For his followers, Sant Shobhan Sarkar is a living god. Asked about the deity he worships, another sewak retorted: “He’s a living god. Why would he worship others?”

The seer hates to be photographed and his followers would simply take way the camera or the cellphone and rough up the person who attempts to photograph him.

The sadhu wrote to the President, the prime-minister, the chief of the ASI, and local politicians about his dream.

The political pressure finally compelled the ASI to survey the area. The Geological Survey of India (GSI) confirmed that there were strong indications of metal at the site. The dig is to begin with 10 to 12 labourers using simple tools.


Priests perform puja at Raja Rao Ram Bux fort before the excavation starts. - PTI
Priests perform puja at Raja Rao Ram Bux fort before the excavation starts. – PTI


The ASI began the excavation work on Friday. The Swami Shobhan Sarkar reached the site around 4 am. After performing a short puja, he immediately left for his ashram in Buxar. His disciples continued to chant hymns till 8 am to generate positive vibes.

When asked about the possibility of striking gold, an ASI official said, “I cannot say anything about any metal. For us even a broken earthen pot of that time holds equal importance.

When asked about Shobhan Sarkar’s dream, the ASI official said, “We have not come here for gold. We are archaeologists who have a scientific way of working.”

Another ASI official said that it is not the sadhu’s dream alone that brought them to the site. “We’ve responded to a report by the ministry of culture. It has observations by the Geological Survey of India that there could be some metal bounty under the earth. So the team is in the field,

No one knows how rich Raja Rao Ram Baksh Singh was, nor are they sure if he buried his gold in his village.

We will have to wait and see if the ASI would dig out real gold or Fool’s Gold.




Add this anywhere

7 thoughts on “Is the Archaeological Survey of India Digging for Real or Fool’s Gold?”

    1. Harsha,

      You are absolutely correct.

      Leave aside the unschooled politicians, and the unscrupulous bureaucrats, who seek the so-called god-men to aggrandize their own coffers. They have already made a mockery of our nation even before this gold-digging episode.

      But, what irks me most is the fact that even officials with degrees plastered behind their names and steeped in science, who are intellectually superior to their masters, make themselves their scapegoats. I wonder how they could voluntarily submit to the hermetics of a dreaming seer. Is their knowledge less important than their skin and their positions? Is the science they learned hitherto nothing but pseudo-science?


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.