Five ancient idols, said to be at least 1,000 years old, were among eight idols recovered from a hideout in Swamimalai in Thanjavur district, the Tamil Nadu Idol Wing CID said on Wednesday, August 10. Exquisitely carved idols of Goddess Bogasakti Amman — weighing 200 kilograms, two idols of Buddha in seated and standing postures; as well as idols of Andal and Lord Vishnu, are all said to be over 1,000 years old, besides the idols of a 100-year-old Nataraja; Goddess Sivakami and Ramana Maharshi that were seized during the raid. The seized idols are said to be worth several crores of rupees in the international market.
Following an unsuccessful search at the Kodambakkam residence of G Masilamani, named in the idol wing theft case in Sivakanchi, the Idol Wing police rushed to Swamimalai and conducted a raid at his hideout on August 9 after obtaining a search warrant. The team first unearthed an antique idol of Nataraja. Subsequently, when the team intensified the search, it tumbled upon seven other idols. Antiquity certificates were also found during the search.
Idol Wing CID DGP K Jayanth Murali said that the high value antique idols were worth several crores in the international market. "During the search, evidence pertaining to the idols' antiquity issued by the Archeology Survey of India (ASI) for the metal idol of Goddess Bhogasakti on January 12, 2017 and for Vishnu and Buddha idols on October 3, 2011 kept hidden in a closet was also unearthed," he added.
The idols were concealed since there was no documentary evidence to prove the ownership. The team seized the idols in the presence of witnesses and will be finding out from which temples they were stolen.
Masilamani, from whose premises the idols were seized, did not possess any valid documents to show ownership nor origin of the idols. An FIR was registered based on a complaint by inspector Indira, Idol Wing CID, Kumbakonam range.
Earlier last week, nine stolen idols believed to be nearly 300-years-old were recovered from a house in Broadway in Chennai. Similarly, an idol of goddess Parvati, which went missing from the Nadanapureshwarar Sivan Temple at Kumbakonam, around 500 years ago was found at the Bonhams Auction House in New York.