Chennai: The antique idol of lord Nataraja that was smuggled to Australia 37 years ago has been brought back to India and Tamil Nadu. The 700-year-old statue, belonging to the Pandya era, reached Chennai on Friday.
The Art Gallery of South Australia (AGSA) in Adelaide was home to the statue with the lord in a cosmic pose for the last 19 years after being bought on the international idols and artefacts smuggling market. The idol went missing from the Kulasekaramudayar-Aramvalarth Nayagi temple at the village of Kallidaikurichi in Tirunelveli district, which is famous for having spawned several industrialists of Tamil Nadu.
The curator of the Adelaide museum had brought the idol back and delivered it to ASI in New Delhi from where it was transported by train by the head of the idol investigation team appointed by the Madras high court. Aarthi was performed for the idol in Central Station itself amid scenes of joy among the community of priests.
The panchaloha idol, weighing 100 kgs and standing 2.5 feet tall is said to be worth about Rs 30 crore in the international antiques market. The sustained efforts of idol tracers helped establish that the Nataraja idol had been stolen from the temple in 1982. The idol will soon be installed after due ceremony in the temple in southern Tamil Nadu....