India’s stolen 15-century bronze idols recovered from London

About 42 years ago, three bronze idols were stolen from the Rajagopalaswamy Temple in the Nagapattinam district which are now found in London and sent to Chennai on November 21. 

Four bronze idols were stolen from the 15th-century Tamil Nadu temple in 1978 which consisted of Lord Rama, Sita, Lakshmana and Hanumana. Porayar police had also filed a complaint however, the idols were not recovered. Now, three of these idols are found in London. 

Photo credits- bbc

In September, a Singapore- based organization that trades artefacts globally traced three of those idols with an antique artefact collector in London. The London authorities, Metropolitan police returned the three idols namely the Rama, Lakshmana and Sita to the Indian Embassy but the Hanumana idol is still reportedly missing.  

Later, the Union Culture Ministry delivered the idols to the Tamil Nadu Government. After examining the idols, Chief Minister K Palaniswami officially gave them to the executive officer of the temple Sankareswari. The idols are expected to be restored in the temple on 25th November. 

There are many other such precious artefacts which were once India’s pride and are now displayed in British museums. 

Apart from the obvious Kohinoor, one of the oldest and most precious diamonds in the world which was found in Golconda, India, now rests in the Tower of London, United Kingdom. It was looted by the Britishers in 1851 when Raja Ranjit Singh was forced to present the diamond in front of Queen Victoria. 

Photo credits- the Indian Express

One artefact is the Buddha statue that was once the pride of the Sultanganj, Bihar in the 19th century was shipped off to England in 1861 and is now called the Birmingham Buddha. 

Photo credits- ENG 235: Artifacts of Empire 

The ruins of the Amravati sculptures of the Buddhist stupa in Andhra Pradesh was discovered in 1790by the British. After further excavations, around 120 sculptures were collected and now can be found in the British Museum in the United Kingdom. Not only diamonds, statues or idols, but the throne of Raja Ranjit Singh was also taken away by the British in 1849. It now rests in the collection of the Great Exhibition in London. 

Photo credits- British Museum

It is surprising that the London government had decided to hand over the 15th-century bronze idols to India. When a major part of the British Museum consists of Indian artefacts and riches, which the British had taken from colonial India.  

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