Thieves broke into the sanctum sanctorum; took away jewellery adorning the deity
The crown, conch and paduke stolen
Tracker dogs traced the scent to two security guards
MYSORE: The ancient Yoga Narasimhaswamy temple at Melkote was burgled and silver and gold-plated jewellery and other valuable items estimated at Rs.7 lakh was reported missing on Saturday.
The burglary has sent shock waves among the devotees in this ancient temple town, overlooking the Cauvery valley situated in Pandavapura taluk of Mandya district.
Described as a stronghold of Sri Vaishnavas, the temple town is associated with the 12th Century saint-philosopher Sri Ramanujacharya who stayed here to escape the persecution by the Cholas and systematised the procedures for worship that is followed even to this day.
The theft came to light early on Saturday. Two of the watchmen who were supposed to be on guard had abstained from duty. The main door of the temple was found broken and the burglars had entered the sanctum sanctorum and removed valuables adorning the deity.
Senior police officials and the temple authorities rushed to the spot and found that 29 items, including the crown, conch, and “paduke” belonging to the deity along with other puja items were missing.
Tracker dogs were pressed into service and they followed the scent that led the police to security guards Nage Gowda and Basave Gowda, who were taken into custody.
Mandya Deputy Commissioner Manjunath Prasad told The Hindu that the jewellery was evaluated by the Gold Merchants’ Association in 2003 as per which the jewellery was valued at Rs. 9.79 lakh. However, the burglars managed to remove only a portion of the valuables adorning Yoga Narasimhaswamy. “We have sought the documents pertaining to the evaluation conducted in 2003 and can estimate the exact loss only after studying the report. But we can safely conclude that the jewellery reported missing could be worth Rs.7 lakh,” according to Mr. Prasad.
The temple received grants from the Wadiyars of Mysore and Krishnaraja Wadiyar had presented a golden crown to adorn the deity, but these are used only on rare occasions and are safe in the custody of the district administration.
Attributing the burglary to lax security, the district administration ordered the suspension of the watchmen and the executive officer of the temple, and police security has been tightened around the temple which was off bounds for devotees on Saturday to facilitate police investigation.
The temple will be opened on Sunday. A section of the devotees who expressed indignation over the incident sought an inquiry into the incident and wanted the security to be tightened.
Pandavpura police have registered a case and are investigating. The authorities say the needle of suspicion points to the watchmen who were supposed to be on duty.