If little Krishna stole butter as a child, this idol of the mythological lord risks the danger of theft. For, it’s made of 1,280 kg of gold.
Authorities at Baba Bansidhar temple in Garhwa district are of late extra-careful that the vintage shrine is guarded well. This, after specific reports of bids to rob the shrine of its main deity worth Rs 2,500 crore.
Located in northwest Jharkhand’s Nagar Utari, the white-spire temple features a four-foot-tall deity of a crowned Krishna standing along with his lover Radha, whose 120-kg statue is made in ashtadhatu that is an alloy of eight metals, including gold.
Legend has it that the principal idol of flute-playing Krishna was dug out from a hill called Shivpahari along the Kanhar river — now in Uttar Pradesh — 131 years ago. One of the most revered spots of worship in north India, the temple which has hills near it clocks 10 lakh pilgrims annually.
In 2014, a team of experts from Banaras Hindu University’s geology department visited the temple and estimated the market value of the Krishna idol to be around Rs 2500 crore.
Ever since, the temple has become vulnerable to attack by criminal and Left ultras. Last year, the Luckhnow AntiTerrorism Squad (ATS) intercepted a telephonic conversation between a top UP-based criminal and leaders of Jharkhand’s leftwing extremist Tritiya Prastuti Committee (TPC), plotting to attack the temple.
The ATS, which did not reveal the name of the UP criminal, said his plan was to rip the gold idol with gas cutters and take away the booty. The squad alerted Garhwa Police, following which security has been intensified in and around the temple, which is now under digital surveillance.
“Prior to the alert, the temple had a security cover of one officer and four constables,” Garhwa police superintendent Priyadarshi Alok told HT. “After the alert, we made it two officers and eight armed jawans.”
“We have carried out several successful raids at the hideouts of TPC ultras,” he said. “While we neutralised many of them, the biggest success came when we arrested TPC commander, Chhotu Singh Kherwar. His name featured in the Luckhnow ATS-intercept talk.”
Garhwa is strategically located on the borders of four states: Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh. Hence, the temple is susceptible to attacks by criminals and Left insurgents, who trespass into any of the four neighbouring states.
Descendants of the Nagar Utari Royal family, who manage the temple through a trust, declined to speak on the value of the idol. “How can we value God,” said chief trustee Anant Pratap Deo, an ex-legislator of the local Bhawnathpur constituency.
He said his great-grandmother, Shivani Kunwar Singh, an austere Krishna devotee, saw the Lord in her dream asking her to bring him to the princely estate from Shivpahari, where he was lying in a cave. “My great-grandmother went to the hills with soldiers and elephants, dug out the Krishna idol of gold from the cave and brought him to Utari,” he added.
But, he said, the elephant dropped the idol at the entrance of the Utari palace. All efforts to pick up the idol again to install inside the palace failed. “Eventually, it was installed at the entrance and that’s how the Bansidhar temple came up.”
The temple committee and priests are not worried of the threat to their God. “No evil eyes of criminal and rebel groups can cause any damage to our God,” said chief priest Brajkishore Tiwari. “After Mathura and Vrindavan, the God himself chose Utari for his abode.”