Burglars struck at the Sri Vada Jambunathar Temple at Thiruvellarai near here but had to return empty handed. The burglary bid was noticed on Thursday morning by the temple priest when he opened the shrine to perform the daily rituals.

The Lord Siva temple comes under the control of the Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments (HR and CE) Department.

The rock-cut temple, said to be built during the Pallava period, is a sub-temple of the Sri Pundarikaksha Perumal Temple, a Sri Vaishnava Divya Desam, situated a few metres away.

As the main door of the Lord Siva temple was locked, the burglars could have scaled the compound wall from a rock situated by the side of the temple, it is said. The culprits opened the iron door of the madapalli (kitchen) abutting the main shrine of Sri Vada Jambunathar apparently using a duplicate key and opened the steel cupboard. The burglars reportedly pulled out the items kept inside the safe, apparently looking for some valuables. The items were found scattered on the floor inside the madapalli when the police and HR and CE personnel inspected the spot later.

As the cupboard contained only dhotis and some gold-plated jewellery, the burglars tried their hand inside the main shrine of Sri Vada Jambunathar after opening the door using a duplicate key.

There was no loss of property as the vessels, jewellery, and dhotis were all found intact, an HR and CE official of the temple told The Hindu.

The temple priest said he noticed the madapalli door opened when he approached the main entrance of the temple at around 8 a.m. to open the lock and perform the daily puja.

On being alerted, police personnel inspected the spot and conducted enquiries.

A fingerprint expert was summoned to inspect the temple to lift any foreign prints inside. The lock of the shrine of Lord Vinayaka was found missing, the official said.

No watchman

Tucked away at a distance from the State highway leading to Thuraiyur, the temple has no watchman. The Manachanallur police were investigating.

A few metres away from the Siva temple, burglars are said to have broken into a Lord Muruga temple and allegedly took away three lamps and a small metal pot from the shrine.