UK has declared the return of a 9th-century-statue of Lord Shiva which was stolen and smuggled approximately 20 years ago from a temple in Rajasthan. The rare stone statue that was stolen in February 1998 from Baroli’s Ghateshwar Temple will be sent to the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI).
The statue of Nataraj, also known as Natesha murti, is approximately four ft tall. It can be seen in chatura pose with jatamakuta and trinetra which is an occasional depiction of Lord Shiva in the Prathihara style.
In 2003, the experts got the news report that the statue had been smuggled out to the UK. The High Commission of India in the UK in a speech said, “When this information was received in London, the UK authorities were contacted and with their support, the matter was pursued with the private collector, who was in possession of the idol in London. He voluntarily returned the idol to the Indian High Commission in the UK in 2005.”
High Commission of India in the UK took to Twitter to declare the news and said, “HCI with support of HM Government repatriates to Archeological Survey of India, the 10th Century idol of Lord Shiva – ‘Natesh’, stolen in 1998 from Ghateshwar Temple, Baroli, Rajasthan.”
The report further read, “HCI is presently working with various law enforcement agencies to trace, seize and retrieve stolen artefacts. HCI is working on many such cases at present. We are confident that in the coming days, in partnership with the ASI, Indian Government, state and central authorities, as well as UK law enforcement agencies and independent experts, we will be successful in returning more items of our cultural heritage to India“.
HCI with support of HM Government repatriates to Archeological Survey of India, the 10th Century idol of Lord Shiva – ‘Natesh’, stolen in 1998 from Ghateshwar Temple, Baroli, Rajasthan. #IndiaUK @TheNehruCentre @DCMS @ASIGoI @authoramish @MEAIndia pic.twitter.com/vr6N770k47
— India in the UK (@HCI_London) July 29, 2020
An Indian official said that the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) and India’s law enforcement agencies together have been researching stolen and smuggled Indian antiquities. Since the investigation, several stolen antiquities and idols have come to India from countries, such as Australia, the United States of America, France, Germany, and now the UK.
It was in August 2017, when a team containing of ASI members visited the India House in the UK to examine the statue of Shiva. Later, they confirmed that the statue was the similar that was stolen years back from the Ghateshwar Temple in Rajasthan.