An emerald Lingam stolen from Swayambulingeswara temple in Illaloor on Friday night. (Photo: DC)
Chennai: A Sivalingam made of maragatham (emerald), valued over Rs 2 crore from the 400-year-old temple in Thiruporur was stolen by unidentified men on Friday night in the darkness of the new moon clubbed with heavy rains and power cut. The theft happened at Swayambulingeswara temple in Illaloor located on Thiruporur-Guduvancherry road. According to the police, the idol was the main deity till 10 years ago. A decade back during Kumbhabhishekam new stone deity was installed and this emerald Siva lingam was kept on the side along with other parivaramoorthigal.
However a year back a wandering devotee recognised the importance of the Lingam and told the temple authorities that it was a very valuable idol. Since then, more and more people started visiting the temple to have darshan of the maragatha Lingam. "It looks like the popularity of the idol had also attracted criminals to the temple and two weeks back a gang on bikes tried to break open the gates of the temple and the villagers had to chase them away. They had come on two bikes. The gang had to leave behind one motorcycle and escaped on the other one. The bike was handed over to the police. The investigators found that the particular bike had a fake registration number," police noted.
Following the incident, residents decided to group together to have a neighbourhood patrolling team to take care of the temple security on a rotation basis. On Friday night it was Mohan's turn to lead the team. But because of heavy rains and power cut, the team decided to call off patrolling at around 11 pm. When Mohan reached the temple around 5.30 am on Saturday to switch off the lights, he found the emerald lingam stolen, police said quoting the complaint from priest Ganesan. The one-and-half-foot tall emerald lingam was removed from the base using a chemical solution, police noted, after visiting the temple.