British police return stolen idols of Vijayanagara period to India

16th September 2020

16th September 2020

The British police have handed over 3 stolen idols of Bhagwan Ram, Mata Sita, and Laxman belonging to the 15th century to the Indian consulate in London.

These priceless idols belong to the Vijayanagara period and were stolen in 1978 from a Tamil Nadu's Vishnu temple.

According to the Hindustan Times report, India House, the Indian High Commission building in London held a virtual commemoration of the occasion which was attended by Prahlad Singh Patel, Union Minister of Culture and Tourism, India House staff, and the Metropolitan police officials.

A Hindu priest performed a traditional pooja of the idols during the ceremony.

It is due to the Indian government's undying efforts to save India's cultural heritage and bring back smuggled and stolen artefacts that these idols have returned.

At an event, Minister Patel had stated that "between 1947 to 2014, only 13 items were returned, but as a result of growing efforts by the government and increasing awareness and understanding, over 40 artefacts have been handed over to India by foreign nations after 2014."

As pera  Swarajyamag report, the idols in question belong to the Vijayanagara period and are made up of bronze. The official names of the idols are Anandamangalam Rama, Sita, and Laxmana.

It has been written in the report of India Pride Project's S Vijay Kumar, "the presence of these idols was first confirmed last year when a volunteer sent a photograph. The photographs were matched with those of the stolen idols from the Sri Rajagopala Swamy temple, Anandamanglam, Mayuram Taluk, Thanjavur District."

The origin and identity of the idols in question were confirmed by the officials of the idol wing of Tamil Nadu's government, the Indian Embassy, London, and the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI).

The dealer of the idols did not know that they were stolen and when the First Secretary of High Commission of India in London, Rahul Nangare reached out to him, the dealer reportedly agreed to hand over the idols after understanding their importance.  

"There is another Hanuman idol of the same group that is currently displayed at a museum in South East Asia," stated The India Pride Project.

Now the idols will be worshipped at their home.

A Buddha statue of the 12th century was stolen in 1961 from Nalanda's ASI museum, the London police had handed over that statue in 2018.

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