Fourteen priceless artefacts from the Thanjavur Royal palace were found missing during a routine inspection on Friday by the royal palace managing trustee Shivaji Rajah Bhonsle.
The palace houses many artefacts used by the early Maratha kings during their reign over the delta region. The artefacts are kept for public display at Second Serfoji Memorial Hall. It is customary that the artefacts are inspected twice every day, both in the mornings and evenings by the prince.
The royal memorial hall houses artifacts including dresses used by the royal family, furniture, Chinese porcelain and priceless jewels and ornaments made of gold and silver. During the inspection on Tuesday, Shivaji Rajah Bhonsle was unable to find 14 artefacts in the display including two Shiva Lingams- one inch and three inches in height respectively made of emerald and crystal- an ivory idol of Lord Krishna and also a yazhi-faceted sword.
Later, Shivaji Rajah Bhonsle filed a police complaint with the Thanjavur West Police station.The display hall is equipped with CCTV camera. But, due to lack of power backup, the camera was not functional. The police suspect the theft of artefacts had taken place during power shutdown timings for a safe exit. Further, police sources said that three glass cases housing the artefacts were not found tampered with which is an indication that the burglar must have been an expert to retrieve the artifacts without breaking the glass. Later, fingerprint experts recorded the fingerprints and sniffer dogs were also pressed into service.
Speaking to media persons, Bhonsle said, “The viewers gallery opens to public between 9 am and 6 pm. On Friday evening during an inspection, around 14 priceless artefacts were found missing” .