Tamil Nadu: Idol of dancing Krishna stolen from Rameswaram temple traced to US museum

A dancing Krishna idol, stolen in 1966 from Sri Ekantha Ramaswamy temple in Rameswaram, was traced to the Indianapolis Museum of Art.


Published Dec 08, 2022 | 6:32 PMUpdatedDec 08, 2022 | 6:32 PM

Missing idol of dancing Krishna stolen from Rameswaram temple traced to US museum. Representational Image. (Creative Commons)

A dancing Krishna idol, stolen in 1966 from Sri Ekantha Ramaswamy temple, in Tamil Nadu’s Rameswaram, was traced to the Indianapolis Museum of Art, USA, during an investigation, the state Idol Wing CID said on Thursday, 8 December.

While investigating a complaint from the executive officer, the Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments (HR & CE) department, pertaining to the dancing Krishna idol, the team under Additional Superintendent of Police G Balamurugan found that six idols were totally stolen from the temple and these included the idols of Krishna alias Kendarva Krishna (dancing posture), Vishnu (two idols), Sridevi and Bhoodevi (two).

The temple executive officer G Narayani had in November this year complained that three or more idols including an antique Krishna idol belonging to Sri Ekantha Ramaswamy temple, Thangachimadam village, Rameshwaram Circle, had been burgled from the temple in 1966.

As no image of the dancing Krishna idol was available in the temple records, the Idol Wing sought and obtained help from the French Institute of Pondicherry (IFP) and verified the photo images.

“It came to light that the temple had 12 metal idols in 1958 and in 2012, the temple priest handed over six metal idols to HR & CE officials. So, a total of six idols had been stolen from the temple,” DGP, Idol Wing, K Jayanth Murali said.

Idol listed on Indianapolis museum website

“As a logical next step, it was decided to investigate and trace the idols if they had been smuggled and sold abroad. During the investigation, while perusing various websites of museums in the world, the idol of dancing Krishna similar to the IFP image was found displayed on the website of Indianapolis Museum of Art, Indiana, USA,” he said in a release.

The downloaded image was compared with the photo available with the IFP and experts opined that the two photographs of Lord Krishna (in dancing posture) were one and the same.

This missing idol was later purchased by the Indianapolis Museum of Art. The Idol Wing is making efforts to trace the remaining five missing idols.

Documentary proof claiming ownership of the dancing Krishna idol is in the process of being prepared and soon it would be submitted to the US seeking its return to the Vishnu temple.

Also read: Idols, paintings seized from Kumbakonam

DGP Jayanth Murali and IGP Dhinakaran lauded Balamurugan and his team for tracing the idol and preparing the MLAT (Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty) in a record less than two weeks’ time.

A specially minted SBT/Digital Medal was announced as a reward to the team for good work.

The DGP thanked Colonel Mathew Bogdanos, Manhattan District Attorney’s Office for the help in the investigation.

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