Kullu: Robbers broke into historic Raghunath Temple, the presiding deity of Kullu valley, two days ago and stole an antique crown and several kilograms of silver ornaments.
A report lodged with the police has stated that 165 grams of gold and 41 Kgs of silver have gone missing.
Two priests, who provide regular prayer services at the temple, are said to have noticed the robbery in the morning, when they came to open the temple for its daily darshan.
Surprisingly the thieves did not steal the idols of Rama (Lord Raghunath), Sita and Hanuman from the sanctum sanctorum. These idols are considered to have been brought from Ayodhya and the most sacred of all the sacred items in the temple.
The temple and all its valuables are under the guardianship of MLA Maheshwar Singh, who happens to be the scion of the Kullu Royal House.
Market value of the stolen precious metals has been assessed at Rs 24 lakhs but the antique value of the stolen goods in the international market is reported to run into crores.
Among the stolen items is the crown of the presiding deity and silver ornaments. District police chief Vinod Dhawan stated that investigations were underway and the police was working on some clues.
With there being not enough security of CC Television Camera’s installed at the temple premises, the police is having to rely upon suspicious movements of people and other clues at the theft site.
Taking out the idol of Lord Raghunath from the temple and a ride in the wooden Rath (chariot) to Dhalpur grounds, marks the start of a weeklong Kullu Dusherra in autumn, the main festival of valley.
Over the last year, as gold prices sprawled in the bullion markets, many temples and monasteries in Himachal Pradesh fell victim to thefts last year.
Robberies related to holy sites also led to two murders, last year; one that of a priest at a temple Rohru region and another of a monk who lived at a lonely monastery in Kinnaur-Spiti area.
Tej Ram, a Kardar (Trustee) of Shirgan Nag temple at Bhanara Village in Kullu valley said, “We have had to get a new idol made after seeking donations and contributions from many villages and pilgrims as the police was never able to recover the original ones that were stolen.”
Thieves had broken into the temple about 8 months ago and decamped with gold and silver idols.
On September 19 temple robbers broke into Bhawani Mata temple of Tandi in Anni and got away with 5 precious idols and 3 Kgs of silver ornaments. Temple priest Bhage Ram had testified before the police that the thieves had entered the temple after breaking a rear wall of the premises.
Thieves had also broken into the Raghunath Temple of Garsa and stole the idols of Lord Rama and Goddess Sita. Temple priest Sandeep Mahant had reported the crime to the police.
Other temples in Kullu valley which have reported robberies include the Behni Mahadev temple of Anni, Mahadeve Temple of Goshaini, Tauna Nag Temple of Anni, Kartik Swami Temple of Simsa, Durga Temple of Nigan, Shani Temple of Kullu, Koyala Mata Temple of Kullu. Kali Odi Temple of Archhandi, Ram Mandi Temple of Vashist, Kartik Temple of Khakhnal, Tripura Sundari Temple of Naggar, Siyali Mahadev Temple of Manali, Chamunda Mata Temple of Nashala, and Bhuvneshwari Temple of Bhekhli. The police were able to recover the stolen valuables of Chamunda Temple of Nashala.
Practically every village in Kullu has a deity (Devta) of its own. An annual assembly of these Devta’s, numbering more than 200, takes place at Dhalpur grounds when they assemble to participate in the Kullu Dusherra Festival annually.
Sanjay Dutta, an engineer by qualification but is a journalist by choice.
He has worked for the premier new agency Press Trust of India and leading English daily Indian Express.
With more than a decade of experience, he has been highlighting issues related to environment, tourism and other aspects affecting mountain ecology.
Sanjay Dutta lives in a village close to Manali in Kullu valley of Himachal.