The idols had gone missing from the temple at Thanjavur more than 50 years ago and were retrieved from a museum in Ahmedabad.

Missing 1000-yr-old Chola bronze idols return to TNs Brihadeeswarar temple Wikimedia Commons/ Jeevan Rex
news Statues Saturday, June 02, 2018 - 14:20

Two ancient bronze idols of Emperor Raja Raja Chola and his consort Lokmadevi, which had gone missing from Tamil Nadu’s Brihadeeswarar temple more than 50 years ago, have been retrieved.   The 1,000-year-old statues are the only historically recorded statues of the emperor and his consort.  

The Tamil Nadu Idol Wing Department recovered the statues from Ahmedabad’s Calico museum, according to a report by Yogesh Kabirdoss in the Times of India

These idols will now be reinstated inside the Brihadeeswarar temple within three days.

In March this year, a case was registered by Tamil Nadu Idol Wing Department to investigate the case of stolen idols from Brihadeeswarar temple. The case was registered after the High Court directed the Idol Wing to look into the missing bronze idols, following a petition by former minister VV Swaminathan. 

As per the ToI report, the idol wing team, led by inspector general of police AG Pon Manickavel, carried out investigations with authorities at the museum in Ahmedabad managed by the Gautam Sarabhai Foundation. The idols are reportedly valued at Rs 60 crore and Rs 40 crore respectively.

The bronze statues, 13 in number, were donated to the temple by the then Chieftain of Kodumbalur during the 29th year of the reign of the emperor. Apart from the idols of Raja Raja Chola I and Lokmadevi, there is no word on the other 11 idols yet.

In February this year, 107 recovered ancient idols were kept for inspection by the public at Pasupatheeswarar temple in Pandanallur village near Kumbakonam. The statues were taken from the Nageswaraswamy temple in Kumbakonam to Pandanallur under the supervision of the Idol Wing of the Tamil Nadu Police and arrangements were made to allow the public to identify and check the originality of the idols belonging to the temples in their villages. 

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