Onerous recovery of 10 stolen temple idols of Tamil Nadu from Australia and US- Idol wing of TN takes the credit

According to a report (June 2022) from  OutLook magazine, 10 precious idols of Hindu deities stolen from various temples across Tamil Nadu by the culprits and idol smugglers over the years were returned to India.   According to minister G. Kishan Reddy, the Ministry of Culture, and Tourism, New Delhi, they date as far back as to  the 10th and16th centuries. In a handover ceremony held by the Ministry  in New Delhi, it is said the idols were to be handed over to their rightful abodes in the presence of state ministers. The ministry claimed that between October 2021 and March 2020, almost 186 artefacts were retrieved,  Returned from the USA and Australia after many legal battles and an array of investigations by the TN police and others, it is quite painful and unfortunate  to note that these objects of worship and reverence by the Hindus  were on display in the public museums there. 

The entire credit goes to the Idol Wing Police of TN Government and the cooperation given by the Central ministry. But for their tedious and concerted efforts, the rare historical idols of Tamil Nadu won't've reached India and the state of Tamil nadu would have lost the treasures  that carry the legacy of the Chola  and Vijayanagara dynasties. 

No doubt Chola and other dynasties of  South India centuries ago  excelled in nuances of metallurgy  and metal idol production of superior quality and look.  HR and CE Commissioner of R Jaya mentioned  that according to records available with the department from 1992 to 2017, that 372 stone idols and 832 icons belonging to 387 temples were found stolen.  Among the more than 30,000 temples, 11,512 temples have strong rooms and security gadgets. 

Since Hindu idol smuggling is a money spinning and lucrative business, both central and state governments must impose severe fine plus imprisonment for a minimum period of 5 years for the violators.  This may put a break on the nefarious activities of the local thugs, thieves and the professional smugglers. 

retrieved from australia TN stolen idols

The  following is the list of  idols of stolen Hindu gods  from the temple recovered in 2022:


Dwarapala:  These sculptures belong to the Vijaynagara dynasty (15th and16th centuries). In 1994, they were stolen from Moondreeswaramudayar Temple in Tirunelveli district..Retrieved in 2020 from Australia. the idol holding a gada in one hand and has another leg raised up to the level of his kne.e

Nataraja idol,

Nataraja,:  Shiva, in pious cosmic dance form, was  stolen from a room of Punnainallur  Mariamman  Temple just 8 km from Thanjavur city (Thanjavur district) dated back to the 11th or 12th century. It is under the Devasthanam (Maratha).  Retrieved in 2021 from the US, here his posture is ananda tandava or the Dance of Bliss .The burglary occurred by breaking open the strong room in the temple in 2018


Nadikeswara Kadayam:  Dated 12th or 13th century,  was stolen from Narsinganadhar Swamy Temple in Tirunelveli district in 1985. Retrieved in 2021 from the US, this bronze image of Nandikeshvara is shown standing in tribhanga posture with folded arms, holding an axe and a fawn in the upper arms, with his forearms in namaskara mudra......

 stolen Kankala Murti stone idol,

Kankala Murti:  Retrieved in 2021 from the US, Kankala Murti is depicted as a fearsome aspect of Lord Shiva and Bhairava. The idol with 4 arms, each holding weapons, etc - damaru and trishul in the upper hands and a bowl and a trefoil shaped object, as a treat for the playful fawn, in the lower right hand. Datable to 12-13 CE, it was stolen from Narasinganadhar Swamy Temple, Tirunelveli in 1985....


Four-armed Vishnu: Dated  11th and12th centuries (the later Chola period), was from Varadharaja Perumal Temple in Ariyalur district; stolen in 2008. Retrieved in 2021 from the US,The sculpture has Lord Vishnu standing on a padma pedestal holding attributes such as shankha and chakra in two hands, while the lower right while the lower right hand is in abhaya mudra.......

Shiva-Parvati idol from TN,

Sri Devi, Siva-Parvati: This 11th and12th century (the later Chola period),  bronze sculpture of Shiva and Parvati, from the Chola Period (860 -1279 CE), Tamil Nadu (15 x 12.25 x 6 inches), was sourced illegally from India under the direction of famous international notorious  idol smuggler Kapoor(He is in jail now) He, in 2005 , sold the some 1,000-year-old idol to David Owsley Museum of Art at Ball State University, Indiana, USA with a false provenance for their artifact.

Deity Parvati TN

Goddess Parvati: Retrieved in 2021 from the US, this 11th century - Chola period idol is seen  holding a lotus in the left hand whereas the right is hanging down near her kati. It was yet another rare idol stolen from Sri Varadharaja Perumal Temple, Ariyalur in 2008....

  Sambandar in standing posture,

Child Sambandar and  the standing child Sambandar: Dated 11th century, was stolen from Sayavaneeswarar Temple in Nagapattinam between 1965 and 1975. The legend has it after receiving a bowl of milk from Goddess Uma, the infant Sambandar devoted his life to composing devotional  hymns in praise of Lord Shiva. The idol depicts the saint’s childlike persona blended with  with maturity and authority of a spiritual leader......

Union minister G.K. Reddy said,  'The states will decide how and where their retrieved articles are displayed in  museums.,”  Earlier, told TNIE that Prime Minister Narendra Modi wanted to return antiquities to the state,s and that unclaimed objects would be kept at the Gallery of Confiscated and Retrieved Antiquities in Purana Quila for public viewing.