Smuggled idol traced after 36 years..!
A Nataraja statue from Kallidaikurichi was sold to an Australian museum for 30 crore
A Nataraja idol, smuggled 36 years ago from the Kulasekaramudayar Aramvalartha Nayaki Amman temple at Kallidaikurichi in Tirunelveli district, was traced to Australia.
A museum in Australia had bought the statue for ₹30 crore and a team headed by Inspector General of Police (IG) A.G. Ponn Manickavel, who had specially been appointed by the court, was able to trace the idol.
The team also succeeded in collecting the identities of those who were behind the heist.
The two-and-a-half-foot idol weighing around 100 kg was smuggled from the temple on July 5, 1982. The 600-year-old idol belonged to the Pandiya period. It is on display at the museum without daily poojas.
“Along with the Nataraja idol, the two-feet Sivakami idol was also smuggled. It was recovered after sometime and returned to the temple, but it may not be the original piece. We are making efforts to trace the original idol,” a senior official of the investigation team told The Hindu.
Other panchaloka idols smuggled from the temple are one-and-a-half feet Manickavasagar and one-foot Sribali Nayagar. In 1984, the Tirunelveli district police wound up the case saying that the idols were undetected.
A few years ago, the case was handed over to the court-appointed idol investigation team and the two officials Ashok Natarajan and Rajaram succeeded in tracing the idol.
“We will follow the procedures followed in bringing back the Pathur Nataraja idol and the Arthanareeswarar statue from Virudhachalam,” said the senior official.
Almost 90% of the idols recovered by the team belong to the Chola period and the Nataraja idol from Kallidaikurichi is from Pandiya period.
The temple was constructed by Kulasekara Pandian.
“The temple has 15 panchaloka idols and we are also investigating to ascertain whether the old idols have been stolen after keeping new pieces instead,” said the officials.