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A group of workers laying the foundation for a house on a piece of land owned by a dairy farmer in Thuthipattu village near Ambur in Tirupattur unearthed a 500-year-old shiva linga.
A team of officials from the Government Museum, Vellore, led by curator K. Saravanan, inspected the linga on Saturday and traced its origin to the later Vijayanagara era in the 16th Century. “We found a similar green stone lingam on a house plot at Arani [in Tiruvannamalai district] a decade-and-a-half ago,” Mr. Saravanan told The Hindu.
To build a small concrete house for farmer S. Ramesh, workers were deepening a portion of the land to lay the foundation when one of them struck a stone idol at a depth of seven feet. Workers alerted the landlord, who informed the police and the village administrative officer.
The workers lifted the stone idol with a mechanised crane in the presence of revenue officials and the police. The shiva linga, which is two feet tall and 1.5 feet wide, has no damage to its structure.
Officials said that under the Indian Treasure Trove Act, 1878, anything found below a one-foot depth belongs to the government. Such treasure should be handed over to the district treasury, with the Collector being the sole guardian.
In this case, a report from the Government Museum, Vellore, will be sent to the Director of Museums, Chennai, and the Tirupattur Collector. Museum officials said the Collector would be requested to display the linga at Vellore Museum for students and others learn the rich past of the region.
The shiva linga, archaeologists said, would be around 500 years old and belonged to the Vijayanagara era because it was during that period, the region witnessed more temple constructions. Furthermore, most of the sculptures and idols in the region, including idols that adore the Jalakanteshwara temple, an ASI- protected monument in Vellore, belong to this period, and are made of green stones found in abundance along the Jawadhu Hills in Tiruvannamalai.
Like Sriperumbudur (the birthplace of Saint Ramanuja), the region along the Palar was a great centre for both Vaishnavites and Shaivaites. The green stone linga found near Ambur is a detachable one, another feature of the era. With the finding of the linga, the area has been earmarked for excavation, officials said.