For the past few years, the Government of India has been giving renewed impetus to protecting India’s cultural heritage and showcasing it to the world. Among those, retrieval of the 10th century gorgeous idol of ‘Natesh Shiva murti is the most recent triumph. The ever momentous Shiva murti idol has been repatriated to the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) on Wednesday.
It was in February 1998, this beautiful Shiva murti was stolen from one of the niches of the Ghateshwar temple, Baroli in Rajasthan. In 2003, it came to light that the original murti had been smuggled out to the UK. When this information was received in London, the UK authorities were contacted and with their support matter was pursued with the private collector, who was in possession of the idol in London. He voluntarily returned the idol to the High Commission in 2005. HCI London has been playing a leading role in the successful restitutions and repatriations of India’s cultural heritage.
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 coming days, in partnership with the ASI, GOI state and Central authorities as well as UK law enforcement agencies and the independent experts, we will be successful in returning more items of our cultural heritage to India”, said an official.
Since then this murti has been displayed prominently in the India House. In August 2017 a team of the ASI experts visited the India House and examined the idol. They confirmed that this is the same murti that was stolen from the Ghateshwar temple.
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India’s Ministry of External Affairs along with India’s law enforcement agencies has been very active in the field of pursuing the investigations and restitution of our stolen and smuggled antiquities. Accordingly, antiquities and idols have been returned back to India from various countries including the USA, Australia, France and Germany.
Similarly, the Bramha- Brahmani sculpture, which was stolen from the World heritage site Rani-Ki Vav was returned to the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) in 2017. It has found a prominent place in the Purana Quila museum in Delhi, in the gallery curated by the ASI.
On 15th August 2018, a 12th Century Bronze statue of Bhagawan Buddha was also restituted to the High Commissioner by the London Metropolitan Police. This was handed over to the Minister of State for Culture by the Finance Minister in 2019.
On 15th August 2019 another two antiques – a 17th Century Bronze idol of Navanitha Krishna and a 2nd-century limestone Carved Pillar motif was returned to the High Commissioner by the Embassy of USA.
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