Ancient Ganesh Deity Stolen in Simla
BY: STAFF CORRESPONDENT
Feb 17, SIMLA, INDIA (NEW INDIA PRESS) A desperate hunt has been launched for thieves who stole a 1,100-year-old Deity of Hindu God Ganesha from a temple. The almost two-feet high, eight-armed 22-kg Deity in stone was placed in the courtyard of the Hatkoti temple, some 100 km from here. It was stolen from there in the wee hours of Monday.
"The thieves moved in stealthily by climbing into the temple courtyard with the help of a bamboo ladder and carried away the Deity," said Prem Thakur, a senior police official at the site. "We were told of the missing Deity by the temple priest and since then have launched a manhunt with help of a dog squad. We're checking every vehicle leaving and entering Rohru valley," said Thakur.
Hatkoti Temple, Simla
The thieves managed to steal the Deity in spite of the presence of a guard at night. "The professional manner in which the theft was carried out indicates it could be the handiwork of an international gang of Deity smugglers," said another police official here.
The state language, art and culture department has described the Deity as an important heritage piece built in the 10th century. "It isn't possible to ascertain the value of the Ganesha Deity. It has caused great loss to the temple, besides hurting the religious feelings of the hill folk in the region," said Hari Chand Sharma, the chief priest of the temple.
Located by the winding crystal clear Pabbar river, the scenic Hatkoti temple dedicated to Goddess Durga is an important and ancient religious spot in the mid hills of Himachal Pradesh. Temples in the state have in the past few years become a soft target for smugglers.
Since 1990, around 20 Deities have been stolen from various places in the state. The state government has registered 200 Hindu and Buddhist temples, besides 300 Deities also. But this is thought to be only a fraction of the state's temples heritage, which often remains unguarded.