The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) will Friday start the excavation for 1,000 tonnes of gold, which a seer dreamt, at a dilapidated fort in Uttar Pradesh's Unnao district.
Officials said the survey of the fort of the late ruler of Unnao, Raja Rao Ram Bux Singh, at Dondia Khera village will begin at 11 a.m. after 'puja' is performed by Hindu seers. Unnao is 50 km from the state capital Lucknow.
ASI officials have been camping at the site for the last three days and completed marking the area of the potential treasure trove late Thursday amid tight security.
Thousands turned up at the site as the news of the dream occurring to venerated seer Shobhan Sarkar spread and the district administration has now banned the entry of people into the fort premises.
Shobhan Sarkar, a famous saint in the region, wrote to the prime minister a few weeks back, saying the king had come in his dreams and asked him to get the treasure dug up and hand it over to the government of India to tide over the economic crisis.
His devotee, Congress leader Bhakt Charan Das had also visited the saint and then urged the ASI to take up the issue.
Preliminary findings, officials say, suggested presence of "some metal underneath the earth", following which ASI teams decided to proceed with the excavation.
Experts, however, are not too sure about the possibility of gold buried underneath.
While many do not rule out the discovery of some gold, they say it is not possible for 1,000 tonnes of gold being buried under the fort as Raja Rao Ram Bux Singh was a ruler who presided over a zamindari stretching not more than 25-30 km.
"He was not a big king and hence it looks unlikely that such a huge gold reserve would be found there," said D.P. Tiwari, former head of the History and Archaeology department at the Lucknow university.
For the villagers, however, Shobhan Sarkar's words are sacrosanct.
Mahendra Pratap Singh, a descendant of the late Unnao ruler, says people firmly believe that if the seer has said it, the gold has to be there.
People have also demanded that in case gold was found, 20 percent of it be spent on development of the area.
Raja Rao Ram Bux Singh fought the British along with Rani Laxmi Bai of Jhansi during the 1857 mutiny and was overthrown in the process. He went into hiding only to be captured in Varanasi after which he was sent to the gallows.