A Natarajar idol that was stolen 62 years ago from the 2000-year-old Vedapureeswarar Temple at Tiruvedhikudi Kandiyur in Thanjavur district, was traced to the Asia Society Museum in New York, U.S.A.
Sixty two years ago, miscreants broke into the Vedapureeswarar Templeand stole an antique Natarajar idol. The temple at Thiruvedhikudi Kandiyur is 2,000 years old and comes under the Hindu Religious & Charitable Endowments (HR&CE) department. It is a well-known temple since ancient times, where Tamil saints and poets such as Tirunavukarasar and Thirugnanasambandar visited and sang the glory of the presiding deity.
Recently, S. Venkatachalam, 60, of the village having heard the news that the Idol Wing was tracing stolen idols, preferred a complaint on September 1. Based on the complaint, the Idol Wing registered a case and took up investigation.
The complainant said prior to the death of his father Sammantham Chedurayar 35 years ago, Mr. Sammantham had approached the Naducauvery police station and the local senior officers to trace the idol, but the police reportedly did not register a case. He said his father had died a heartbroken man as the stolen idol could not be traced in his lifetime.
Following reports in the media about that the Idol Wing tracing stolen idols, he approached the Wing to trace the stolen Natarajar idol and sought to restore the original to fulfil his father's dream.
Inspector General of Police, Idol Wing CID R.Dhinakaran said: “Our investigation revealed that the idol of Natarajar that devotees were worshipping at the temple was fake. Some miscreants had stolen the original idol 62 years ago. The investigating team sought original photographs from the Indo-French Institute Pondicherry (IFP).
After receiving the original idol's picture, the team launched a search on the websites of various museums, brochures of artefact collectors and auction houses. After an extensive search, the team stumbled on what looked like an original idol at the Asia Society Museum, New York."
After scrutiny, an expert also concluded and issued a certificate that the idol in the Museum was the same as the photograph obtained from the IFP.
"Expeditious action is under way to retrieve the idol under the UNESCO agreement and restore it to Vedapureeswarar temple. An investigation is also taken up to see if any other idols had been stolen from the temple,' said K.Jayanth Murali, Director General of Police, Idol Wing CID.