Rare snake god masks stolen in Himachal Pradesh

March 5th, 2008 - 3:15 pm ICT by admin  

Shimla, March 5 (IANS) Half a dozen rare wooden masks of the snake god (naag devta) studded with precious stones and jewels, believed to be over 600 years old, have gone missing from a temple in Himachal Pradesh, the police said Wednesday. Temple priest Prakash Sharma and caretaker Ravinder Pujari noticed the theft when they opened the doors of the temple near Urhgosh village in the snow-covered Lahaul valley, some 450 km from here.

After being closed for four months in winter, the temple doors were opened Tuesday for worship, and it was found that the masks were missing, the priest claimed.

Police suspect the theft may have taken place in late autumn last year before the high passes leading to the snowbound Lahaul valley were closed to traffic due to heavy snowfall.

Villagers recall a group of western foreigners visited the temple to photograph of the masks, a few days before it was closed.

The case is being investigated, said Hira Singh Thakur, a police official.

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