Ancient Lord Hanuman idol, stolen from a Tamil Nadu temple, repatriated

A centuries-old idol of Lord Hanuman that was stolen from a temple in Tamil Nadu has been handed over to the Indian Embassy in Australia, said Union Minister for Culture, Tourism and Development of North Eastern Region (DoNER), G Kishan Reddy. Prime Minister Narendra Modi also quoted the minister’s tweet and said that the government is working towards bringing all the prized possessions of the country back home.  

The metal idol of Lord Hanuman was stolen from a Vishnu temple dating back to 14th-15th century from the Chola period, said the minister, who also added that till date 251 antiquities have been retrieved from different countries.  

“We are constantly working towards ensuring our prized heritage comes back home,” said PM Modi in a tweet.  

The idol was stolen from Shri Varatharaja Perumal, a Vishnu temple in the Pottaveli Vellur area of Tamil Nadu’s Ariyalur district. It was documented by the “French institute of Pondicherry” in 1961. 

The idol was returned to India in the last week of February and handed over to the Tamil Nadu Idol Wing as a case property on April 18. 

According to the ASI, this idol was burgled along with Sri Devi idol and Boodevi idol from the Varadharaja Perumal temple in Vellur village in Ariyalur district on April 9, 2012. In March 2014, this idol was auctioned to a buyer in Australia. Upon discovery and consequent investigation, it was found to be the same idol that was stolen from India. The Tamil Nadu Idol Wing was assisted by the US Homeland Security. The New York-based auction house, which had auctioned the idol, and the Australian buyer were reportedly unaware that the statue was stolen. 

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