The case of missing idols at Thanjavur Brihadisvara or Big Temple has just got murkier. Tamil Nadu police officials now say that 11 more idols have gone missing from the temple, the Times of India has reported.
Police suspect the involvement of temple officials in the missing idols case. The suspicion is based on evidence collected from books on antiques, the annual report on south India epigraphy and stone inscriptions found beneath a mandapam located in the north-western part of the temple.
King Raja Raja Chola, whose idol along with his wife Logamadevi was stolen 50 years ago, had donated 66 metal pieces including gold idols to the temple during his reign. The idols include that of “Kolkai Thevar” and “Shethira Balar” made of gold. Four silver idols of “Vasudevar” and a panchaloha idol of “Ardhanareeswarar”, valued at several crores of rupees, are also missing.
The daily’s report, quoting the police, said of the four panchaloha idols donated by queen Kundhavai, not a single one was found in the temple now. Idols of Uma Maheshwari and Vanavanmahadevi and Pon Maaligai Thunjnathevar are also missing.
A G Pon Manickavel, chief of the idol wing of Tamil Nadu police, told media on Saturday (3 March) that 13 idols worth several crores of rupees have been stolen from the temple and investigations are on.
An inspection of the strong room of the Big Temple in the last one-and-a-half months revealed that two idols had been hidden in the pedestal of a Nataraja idol. Temple officials were unable to provide any convincing response to this.
Idols at the Big Temple have become the focus of the investigation led by the idol wing police after former state Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments Department Minister V V Swaminathan filed a petition in the Madras High Court seeking details on their whereabouts.
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