505 Gold Coins

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505 Gold Coins Found in a Brass Pot While Digging at Jambukeswarar Temple

By Indian Express - 19.3 2020

505 gold coins, weighing 1.716 kg, were found in a vessel during digging at Jambukeswarar Temple in Thiruvanaikaval, Tiruchirappalli district yesterday. The coins were later handed over to the police. The pot was found by workers engaged in renovation work near the Akhilandeswari shrine in the temple complex. The temple is believed to have been constructed in the early Chola period, almost 1800 years ago.

During the 1700’s the East India Company minted gold coins called Pagodas. They came in two versions, the Oru Swamy Pagoda (“One God Coin”) and the Moonu Swamy Pagoda (“Three God Coin”). This referred to whether Lord Vishnu was depicted alone or accompanied by his two consorts, Sri Devi and Bhu Devi (Lakshmi).

As per officials, the coins were in a sealed pot that was spotted by workers near the Akhilandeshwari Shrine. When the temple officials opened it they found 505 gold coins. The coins are yet to be examined by the archaeologists to understand their age and history. As per reports, the pot was found at a depth of almost 7 feet.

According to sources, the temple, considered to be over a 1000 years old, was undergoing a renovation process in a periodic manner. The temple management had decided to clear vegetation off the Valai Kottam located opposite of the Ambal Sannidhi and develop a Nandhavanam (flower garden). The brass pot consisting of gold coins was extracted by curious workers who opened the lid and found gold coins filled to the rim. The information was later passed on to District Administration.

Srirangam Tahsildar came to the temple to examine the find, which weighed about 1.716 grams. As the coins have historical inscriptions and symbols the archaeology department will be conducting tests to ascertain their age and history.

The Akilandeswari Samedha Jambukeswarar temple is believed to have been constructed 1800 years ago by Chola Chieftain Kotchengannan (Prince with red eyes). The temple is in the Srirangam island where the famous Ranganathaswamy temple is located.

This is believed that the temple received many donations over a period of time that includes silver Vahanams, gold ornaments and immovable properties. The temple has a majestic complex, complete with courts, towers, and ponds.

Currently, the gold treasure is kept at the treasury for safekeeping.

A day after a sizeable number of gold coins was found in Jambukeswarar temple, a numismatist from the city who possesses two similar coins said those found in the temple were minted by the East India Company in the late 16th century.

On Wednesday, during clean-up work at the Arulmigu Akilandeswari Samedha Jambukeswarar temple, a closed vessel was found on an empty plot near Thayar Sanathi. It contained 505 ancient gold coins weighing 1.716 kg. There were 504 similar coins weighing more than 3 gm and a large one weighing over 10 gm.

Following the discovery, all the coins have been kept in the government treasury in the district. A Manoaharan, numismatist and former Railways employee from Tiruchy, told TNIE the coins date back to 1691 and minted by the East India Company.

He said, “The coin was called Pagoda’ (‘Varagan’ in Tamil). In the period, East India Company minted two types of coins, namely the single-deity Pagoda (Oru Swamy Pagoda) and triple-deity Pagoda (Moonu Swamy Pagoda). Though other coins were there for use, the Pagoda coins were specially minted for gifting purposes.”

Single-deity Pagoda would have Tirupati Balaji on one side and granules (rough surface) on the flip side. Triple-deity Pagoda would have Tirupati Balaji along with Sridevi and Bhoodevi and granules on the other side. He added the coins found in Jambukeswarar temple must have been hidden by people back in the 16th century. He said the single 10-gm coin could be from the Arcot Nawab.

He said these coins are extremely rare and their value would be five times the current gold price for each coin. He requested the government to preserve the coins by keeping them in a museum considering their history.