Unlocking India's little known treasures.

Imagine a burglar picking a four-foot long lock weighing 15 kilos. He would just have to turn the key and turn the key and turn the key... all the four feet down. No wonder there were not as many burglaries in our country a 100 years ago.
V Raghunathan's collection of over 400 locks would surprise anyone with the ingenuity of our ancient locksmiths from villages of Rajasthan, Gujarat, Punjab, Kashmir and the famed city of Aligarh. If they designed locks to keep unwanted elements out and let go of their creativity, they did well.
The oldest in Raghunathan's collection is an 800-year-old lock shaped like a girl with folded arms. This is the only lock in his collection to which there is no key. Keys shaped like thin long needles, flat metal straps with grooves, keys that work like screws -the range goes on.
An interest in antiques and ''in general anything mechanical'' nudged Raghunathan to start collecting locks 17 years ago. That he is the president of The Vysya Bank Limited is just co-incidental as far as keeping things under lock-and-key go. Raghunathan also taught at the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad, for 20 years.
He stumbled across the first lock in Srinagar hanging on a cottage door and traded it for a brand new one with the owner! ''The ingenuity of these locks lies in how it works. Otherwise, it is just a lump of metal. Even if you have the key you won't be able to open it till you understand its mechanism,'' says Raghunathan.
Puzzling locks without keyhole, with keyholes hidden behind secret little doors, locks that open with one key and get locked with another, locks which won't open till you simultaneously press a hidden lever while turning the key, a combination lock with verses of Koran in Arabic.
Then there is a lock that sings a ''tring'' every time you turn the key; locks that open with the wrong side of a key, locks you can pry open only after five rigorous steps using a combination of five different keys.
''Most of these locks were on money safes, almirahs, jewellery cases, or even kitchen boxes that stored ghee or from ancient Jain temples,'' says Raghunathan.