London: An ancient and priceless statue of Lord Shiva, stolen from a temple in Rajasthan and smuggled to the UK, is set to be returned to its rightful place in India.
The 4-foot tall statue created in the late 9th Century 'Prathihara' style of Rajasthan is said to have been stolen from the Gateshwar temple in Baroli, Rajasthan in 1998.
It later emerged that the statue had been brought to the United Kingdom where it was discovered amongst the collection of a wealthy private collector.
Following the combined efforts of the British authorities and Indian officials, the statue was voluntarily handed over by the collector to the Indian High Commission in London in 2005.
Since then, the statue of Shiva - striking a 'chatura' pose with Jatamakuta and Trinetra - has taken pride of place at the historic and grand India House in the heart of London.
In 2017, officials from the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) were invited to inspect the statue, confirming that it was indeed the statue stolen from the temple in Baroli.
The statue is now all set to be returned to its original home in Rajasthan.
Its the latest in a string of priceless artefacts and antiquities taken from India and which have been tracked and traced in operations carried out by the Indian government and its counterparts in the UK, USA, Australia, France and Germany.
Among the prominent examples include the famous Brahma-Brahmani sculpture which was stolen from the World heritage site Rani-Ki Vav and returned to the ASI in 2017.
The following year a 12th Century Bronze statue of Bhagawan Buddha was 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 August 15, 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 the United States.
This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text.