Ancient idols stolen from Tamil Nadu traced to Ahmedabad after 50 years

Raja Raja Chola, who ruled the South India from the then capital city Thanjavur, built a temple known as Peruvudaiyar Koil in the 11th century. At the time of consecration, a statue of Raja Raja Chola and another statue of his wife were installed inside the temple, which were reportedly stolen sometime in the first half of 20th century and replaced with new statues by the thieves. The theft of ancient idols were unnoticed for decades.

In 1984, on the occasion of 1000th coronation day of Raja Raja Chola, the head of Kanchi mutt, late Sankarachariar, donated a diamond crown to the statue. Prime Minister Indira Gandhi was invited to the ceremony where renowned archaeologist Kudavoil Balasubramanian revealed the statue of Raja Raja Chola in the temple was not the original.

Now, after over 50 years after the original crime was committed, the ancient bronze statues, believed to be valued at approximately Rs. 100 crore, were now traced to the Calico Museum in Ahmedabad. Tamil Nadu Idol Wing has registered a case to investigate the crime.

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A total of 13 bronze statues were donated to the temple by the then Chieftain of Kodumbalur during the 29th year of the reign of the emperor. The idols hold great significance since there is no evidence of any other statue of Raja Raja Chola being made during his lifetime apart from the ones in Ahmedabad museum. Except for the idols of Raja Raja Chola I and Lokmadevi, there is no word of the other 11 idols yet.

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