For more than 20 years, those who lived in and around the village of Lokhari in Uttar Pradesh, India, have prayed for the return of an important statue of a goddess that was stolen from a local temple. Now those prayers have been answered. The 8th-century goat-headed deity has been discovered thousands of miles away – in an English country garden, covered in moss.
The sculpture will be formally given to the High Commission of India in London. It is a case that shames Sotheby’s, which offered the statue for sale in 1988, a few years before the auctioneer was to face serious allegations of having encouraged looting of ancient Indian religious sites.