“Sona Kahan Hain (Where is the gold)?” Apparently, the answer to Bollywood villain Ajit’s famous question is buried 20 metres underground in Uttar Pradesh’s Unnao district.

As the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) starts its excavation from 12 pm on Friday to find the gold supposedly buried in Unnao, experts say it may take the agency five weeks to hit the treasure.

Three months ago, a seer, Shobhan Sarkar, had written a letter to the Union government to inform that he seen in his dream that a treasure (1000 tonnes of gold) was lying buried in the fort of Raja Ram Bux Singh situated in Buxur area of Dandiyakhera Village in the Bighapur sub-division (tehsil).

He dreamt that Raja Ram Bux Singh, who gave his life for the country fighting the British in 1857, and told him to take care of the gold buried in the remains of his fort. The sadhu shared his dream with one and all, including the Union minister of state for agriculture and food processing Charandas Mahant, who did not dismiss it as joke. Instead, he visited the village and this is how the ASI and Geological Survey of India got active.
Consequently, the central government directed the district magistrate of Unnao on September 3 to find out the truth. On the directives of the district administration and the government, a team of the ASI officials surveyed the area indicated by the saint and found the traces of hidden gold pertaining to 19th century under 15-20 (60-65 feet) metres underground.

The ASI experts have made it clear that they will go extremely slow when it comes to digging. They have advised the workforce not to dig more than three foot in eight hours.

This is what ASI plans to dig in a day.

But according to the calculations of the seer and the Geographical Survey of India (GSI) mapping, the ASI would need to dig 20 metres or close to 65 foot.

With the rate of three foot a day, the excavation would take at least five weeks. “We are employing the most basic way for excavation. Workers will use shovels, spades for digging up two blocks of 10 foot deep each in the first phase of excavation,” said PK Mishra, superintendent archaeologist, ASI.

“Workers have their instructions to go slow and remain a bit gentle; they should not generate extra-force when hitting the surface. ASI doesn’t want to damage any historic artefact it might hit upon in the process.”

The ASI has not opted for the technologically driven non-destructive technique it normally applies in such works because of the terrain where dense forest cover pose a problem.

Amid heightened curiosity and clamour, Swami Om, disciple of Shobhan Sarkar, reiterated the gold will indeed be found. And if not, the government was free to throw him into the jail. “Don’t you think we do not know the pros and cons if the gold is not found? We are men of God and we do not lie. Anyone having any doubt should come along and see it (gold) for real.”

The ASI experts reached Unnao on Thursday and met the district magistrate before the taking up the excavation. The administration, on its part, has sanitized the points marked for digging and banned the entry of general public. On Friday, a havan was conducted by Shobhan Sarkar, who appeared to his disciples for the first time. When the ASI officials reached the site on Thursday, they fell at the seer’s feet and asked for his blessing. “Baba, hamari madad karo (Baba, please help us).” The seer then promised to conduct a havan just before the digging starts on Friday.

In view of massive public build-up, the Unnao police have barricaded the excavation points and deployed armed police personnel. “All measures are in place to check the public entry,” said Sonia Singh, SP Unnao. Other than 16 Provincial Armed Constabulary (PAC) personnel, one sub-inspector and four armed constables will remain at the site round-the-clock.

“The situation is being monitored on a day-to-day basis. No one will be allowed to get even close to the excavation site,” she said.

Who was Raja Ram Bux Singh?

According to local historians, Raja Rao Ram Bux Singh of Buxur was defeated by the Britishers in the first war of Indian independence in 1857. He was hanged to death. Unaware of the treasure, the Britishers demolished his palace and the whole treasure remained buried in the campus. Since then, no one knows what happened to the treasure.

Where is Dandiyakhera?

Dandiyakhera village is situated in Unnao district in Bighapur tehsil, two km from Buxur, on the banks of river Ganga. It is about 50 km from Lucknow and 80 km from Kanpur.

Who is Shobhan Sarkar?

Shobhan Sarkar was born in Shakulnapurva village, Maitha block in UP’s Kanpur (Dehat) district

Studied at the BPMG Inter-College in Mandhana town in Kanpur Nagar district

According to some people in Mandhana, in his free time, Sarkar used to study Gita and Ramcharitmanas sitting under trees

10 years after completing high school, he left home and became the follower of Swami Satsanganand

People associated with the ashram of Swami Satsanganand say that Swamiji was used to known as “Bade Swami”

Sarkar learnt meditation under the guidance of Swamiji for about eight years.

Bade Swamiji had come to Doodhi Kagar Forest from Sahmilpur village in block Amauli Bindaki Fatehpur around 70 years ago. He worshipped under a tree and later build a “kutia” (hut) to live there. Swami Parmanand of Mawai Bindaki was very close to Bade SwamiJi. Shobhan Sarkar used to treat him as guru.

With the consent of Guruji and the Bade Swami, Shobhan Sarkar built his ashram first at Baghpur in Kanpur Dehat and later in Shobhan. Bade Swamiji passed away in 1977.

In order to connect the Shobhan temple with the villages, roads were constructed and several villages, including Pandunagar, Nigoha, Baghpur, Singhpur and Pratarpur were connected with Shobhan temple. The temple is surrounded by pond water. The water from Pandu river also flows into the pond. There are submersible pumps installed in the temple campus. The overflowing water reaches to the fields. Thousands of devotees enjoy community feast every day at the temple.

Sarkar has constructed temples in Chaubepur, Sunauraha, Singhpur, Maitha, Sarsaul and in Doodhi Ghat. Following disputes over tax on temples, he got the ashram registered. He also made ashrams at Buxur in Unnao and at Doodhi Kagar in Fatehpur.