Chennai: Madras high court has dismissed a public interest litigation, which sought a direction to the state government to trace and bring the centuries old golden statues of Raja Raja Chola and his queen Logamadevi back to Tamil Nadu, install the same in Big Temple at Thanjavur, investigate the theft of the statue and prosecute the offenders.
A division bench comprising Chief Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Justice R. Mahadevan dismissed the PIL filed by former HR & CE minister V.V. Swaminathan.
In his plea, Swaminathan said Raja Raja Cholan, who ruled the entire South India from the capital city Thanjavur, built a temple known as Peruvudaiyar Koil. The consecration of this temple, also called Big temple, Raja Rajeswaram and Brahadeeswarar, was held in 1010 AD.
At the time of consecration a statue of Raja Raja Cholan and another statue of his wife were installed inside the temple. These statues were said to be made of gold as per information given to him by the late saint Sankarachariar, head of Sankara mutt in Kancheepuram. These two statues were found in the Big temple till 1900.
Thereafter, the original statues were said to have been stolen and new statues were installed. It was not brought to the notice of people for several decades.
When M.G. Ramachandran was chief minister of Tamil Nadu, the head of Kanchi mutt, late Sankarachariar, donated a diamond crown to the statue on the occasion of 1,000th coronation day of Raja Raja Chola held in 1984 and the then
Prime Minister Indira Gandhi was invited for the function. At that time, renowned archaeologist Kudavoil Balasubramanian said the statue of Raja Raja Chola in the Big temple was not the original.
He wanted the original to be traced and brought back to the temple. It was believed that the then Chief Minister and Prime Minister Indira Gandhi took steps to trace the statue but there was no follow up action. During his tenure as minister concerned, he gave written complaint to the department secretary, but it was not acted upon diligently. While so, Kula Shanmugasundaram, a writer, published a serial on statues and he referred to the theft of Raja Raja Chola statue in his article.
In that article, it was specifically stated that the original statue of Raja Raja Chola was now in Calico Museum in Ahmedabad in Gujarat state. This museum was a private museum and it belongs to Gautam Sarbai Foundations, he added.
He said the article also referred to the committee constituted by the DMK government to bring back the statue. The committee went to Gujarat and met the then Chief Minister Narendra Modi and steps were taken. When the committee met the chairman of the museum, the chairman said she would be ready to hand over the statue provided, Dr Nagasamy, the then director of archaeology and a member of the committee, confirmed that the statue was that of Raja Raja only. But, Dr Nagasamy did not confirm it.
Therefore, now authorities should take appropriate steps to purchase the statue, if necessary, from the private museum and take action to bring back the statue to the Big temple, he added.