NELLORE: Several heritage structures and ancient historical temples in the district with rich cultural and historical value, are being systematically defaced and vandalised by treasure hunters, due to lack of coordination between the departments of Endowments, Mines and Geology, Tourism and Archaeology.
These places are left vulnerable as there is none to guard them. Last month, treasure hunters stole a Ganesh statue from Muthyalamma temple. Around the same time, unidentified miscreants dug up a hole in the ancient temple in DC Palli mandal. Villagers say that this is the second time that such an incident has occurred.
According to department sources, nearly two years ago in Marlapadu forest area in Gudur division, treasure hunters murdered a person in a brawl that broke out over an argument. Gudur sub-division police nabbed a team of nine treasure hunters on December 2, 2017. The nine-member gang had teamed up to unearth hidden treasure at Marlapudi reserve forest area in Sydapuram mandal. Treasure hunters have been vandalising ancient structures in the district. They have dug up places in Udayagiri Durgam and Prabhagiri Patnam.
They even vandalised the Nandi idol at Swarnala tank in the hope of unearthing the hidden treasures. The State government should allot funds to appoint security guards for protection of ancient temples and structures and idols of antique value, said BJP district vice-president Midathala Ramesh.
As per Andhra Pradesh Ancient Historical and Archaeological Monuments Protection Act 1960, all ancient temples and heritage sites had been declared protected monuments. No alterations, modifications or modernisation can be effected without the approval of the Department of Archaeology.
Another reason for the treasure hunt is the demand for copper placed under the idols in the open market. If the hunters don’t stumble upon the treasure, they sell off copper.“Valuable copper could be found under the statues. In ancient days, kings also stored precious coins under them. That’s what the treasure hunters are looking for,” said district coordinator of Hindu Dharma Parirakshana Trust Kota Sunil Kumar.
Ramesh, a history student, said the treasure hunters destroyed monuments due to lack of security and monitoring by the Department of Archaeology. He said that this was a result of the gross negligence by the successive governments.
Treasure hunters on the prowl
Nellore district is dotted with a number of historic and ancient temples, which remains in the memory of local people as a time of splendour. In the hope of unearthing a fortune, treasure hunters are destroying the abandoned historical monuments and temples