CHENNAI, Sept 12 – Two antique statues of Hindu deities allegedly stolen from temples in Chennai, capital of southern Tamil Nadu state and sold to art galleries in Australia arrived on Thursday, Press Trust of India (PTI) reported.
The statues of Nataraja and Ardhanariswara were handed over by Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott to Prime Minister Narendra Modi during the former’s visit to India last week.They were brought here by a government carrier from Delhi and then taken to the Archaeological Survey of India office.
The Nataraja statue belongs to the Chola Dynasty in 11th-12th century and was purchased by the National Gallery of Australia in 2008 at US$5.1 million from New York based art and antiquities dealer Subhash Kapoor.
The Ardhanariswara statue dates back to the 10th century and was sold to the Art Gallery of New South Wales in 2004 for about US$280,979.Kapoor, owner of Art of the Past Gallery in New York, was arrested in Germany and subsequently extradited to India in 2012.
He is accused of conspiracy to commit burglary and smuggling antique idols of Hindu deities from Tamil Nadu.In March, the Ministry of External Affairs through India’s High Commission in Canberra made a formal proposal to the Australian Department of Attorney General to seek the return of the statues.