An ancient four-feet-tall idol of Lord Shiva, which was smuggled to the United Kingdom in 2003, will reportedly be returned to the Archaeological Survey of India. The Nataraj idol, which is made up of stone, highlights a rare depiction of Lord Shiva in Chatura pose.
As per reports, the Shiva idol was stolen in February 1998 from Ghateswar Temple in Baroli in Rajasthan. It was smuggled to the United Kingdom in 2003. When the British authorities were informed, they pursued the private collector who had bought the idol of Lord Shiva, bearing Trinetra, and Jatamukta.
Interestingly, the man had voluntarily returned the idol to the Indian High Commission in the United Kingdom in 2005. After the return of the idol in 2005, it is now, only in 2020, that the idol is set to be returned to India.
ASI verifies the smuggled idol of Lord Shiva
Reportedly, a team of experts from the Archaeological Survey of India had visited the India House in London in 2017 to investigate the idol of Lord Shiva depicted in the Prathihara style. The ASI confirmed that it was the same idol that was stolen in 1998 from Rajasthan. As per reports, the Indian government and central law enforcement agencies are actively pursuing the restitution of stolen artefacts in a bid to preserve the lost cultural heritage of the country. Antiques have been successfully restituted from various countries including Australia, the US, France, and Germany.
HCI with support of HM Government repatriates to Archeological Survey of India, the 10th Century idol of Lord Shiva – ‘Natesh’, stolen in 1998 from Ghateshwar Temple, Baroli, Rajasthan. #IndiaUK @TheNehruCentre @DCMS @ASIGoI @authoramish @MEAIndia pic.twitter.com/vr6N770k47— India in the UK (@HCI_London) July 29, 2020
HCI actively pursuing stolen artifacts
According to the High Commission of India (HCI) in London, it is working with law enforcement agencies to track and retrieve stolen or smuggled items. In a statement, HCI emphasised, “We are confident that in the coming days, in partnership with the ASI, Government of India, state and central authorities as well as UK law enforcement agencies and independent experts, we will be successful in returning more items of our cultural heritage to India.”
India demands restitution of 15th-Century murti
In February, India had formally demanded the return of a 15th-century Bronze murti, which was believed to have been stolen from Tamil Nadu, from the United Kingdom. The Ashmolean Museum at the University of Oxford acquired the figurine of Saint Tirumankai Alvar from Sotheby’s auction house in 1967 from the collection of a collector named J R Belmont. “It was informed to the Ashmolean Museum that the bronze is similar to the number of bronzes in collections in Europe and the United States identified by the aforesaid researcher through the IFP-EFEO archive,” the statement read.