The Idol Wing has registered a case in connection with the theft of idols from the Natanapureeswarar temple at Thandanthottam near Kumbakonam, reported more than four decades ago.
The first theft at the early Chola period temple was reported on May 12, 1971 when five ‘panchaloha’ idols were reported missing from the temple. The idols were more than 1,300 years old and worth more than ₹60 crore, according to a press release from the Idol Wing.
When a complaint was lodged with the Nachiyarkovil Police by the then trustees, Subramaniyan and Venkataraman, on May 13, 1971 it was not entertained by the police though a team visited the temple in the car provided by the local residents to inspect the scene of crime.
The temple priest, who was detained in the police station for a night for inquiry, was released on the request of the villagers.
In 1972, another theft was reported when panchaloha idols of Nataraja and ‘Kolu Amman’ were stolen.
The temple was managed by the villagers and did not come under the control of the Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments Department.
However, several representations made by the villagers, particularly Vasu and Ramakrishnan of Thandanthottam, in this regard to several officials, the Chief Minister and even to the Prime Minister in the past had not yielded any result. But there was information that the Nataraja idol stolen from this temple first was at a museum in London and subsequently moved to the United States.
Recently, Mr. Vasu lodged a complaint with the Idol Wing alleging that 17 other idols belonging to the temple (excluding those stolen) kept in the strongroom at Oppilliappan temple, have been replaced in the last four decades.
When the Idol Wing Special Officer, A.G.Pon. Manickavel, visited the temple he was informed by the priest that all the idols have been deposited in the strong room and that the regular ‘pujas’ were performed with the help of villagers.