Fourteen idols and two conch shells, which were stolen from the Chandannath Temple in Jumla district headquarters Khalanga on November 26, were found at Depalgaun-2 in the district on Tuesday.
Local women had spotted the idols at Rokayawada while they were going to the forest to collect firewood. One of them immediately telephoned her relative in Khalanga who informed the police about the idols.
Idol of the main deity Dattatreya was among the 21 centuries-old images and other valuables that were stolen from the temple. The Chandannath-Bhairavnath Guthi Management Committee said the idols of Dattatreya, Buddha, Krishna, Mahakaal and a gold-plated steeple, footprints of the deities and a rare conch were among the valuables stolen.
People of Depalgaun did not let the security personnel collect the idols before the authorities promised to properly probe the incident and nab the robbers. They allowed police to collect the idols only after sniffer dogs were brought to the scene.
The security personnel and Chandannath-Bhairavnath Guthi Management Committee members gathered the idols that were scattered about in the stream and the foot trail. They were brought to Khalanga in a procession attended by hundreds of people. According to Gaurinanda Acharya, former chief of the Guthi Management Committee, the idols were reinstalled in the temple.
Police mobilised a search team suspecting that other idols and valuables could be hidden in the area.
After the theft, locals had staged demonstrations in the district for days, criticising the administration for failing to nab the culprits. A team led by Additional Inspector General of Police Bigyan Raj Sharma had reached Khalanga for inspection. Chandannath, a revered Hindu temple, is a major tourist attraction in the Karnali region. It is believed that Chandannath Baba, an ascetic, had brought various idols and installed them at the temple in 1855.