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New Delhi: Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott who is on a state visit to India is returning two looted idols seized from Australian museums during a meeting with the Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi on Friday.

Abbott is personally delivering the National Gallery of Australia’s Rs 30 crore ($5 million) Dancing Shiva or Nataraja Ardand and the Art Gallery of New South Wales’s Rs 2 crore ($300,000) Ardhanarishvara to Modi as a “gesture of goodwill” at a state reception at the Rashtrapati Bhawan in the evening.

Both priceless objects were stolen from temples in India and later sold to the museums by Manhattan dealer Subhash Kapoor, who, his gallery manager has admitted, created falsified ownership documents to hide their illicit origins. Read more.

Four bone fragments of the Buddha housed in the National Museum, Delhi are on a two-week tour of Sri Lanka to enable Buddhists there to pay homage to them. While all relics of the Buddha are revered, these are special. They are part of the trove of 22 bone fragments that were discovered by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) in the 1970s in Kapilavastu, Uttar Pradesh, where he grew up as a prince before renouncing the world.

The journey of the relics, from New Delhi to Colombo, and to six other places in Sri Lanka this year, being observed as the 2,600th anniversary of the Buddha’s enlightenment, brings up some old questions.

For the two governments, the historical antecedent of the relics is a settled fact, and the exchange of cultural artefacts between the two countries is a continuation of the long history that dates back to the days of Emperor Ashoka. Read more.

NEW DELHI (AP) - A trove of gold and silver treasures found in a 16th century Hindu temple will be unearthed and cataloged by antiquities experts under tight security, with the media and public barred from the site in southern India, the Supreme Court said Thursday.

The recent discovery of the treasure - including bagfuls of coins, crowns, precious gems and golden statues of gods and goddesses studded with diamonds, rubies and emeralds - made the Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple the richest known religious institution in India. Its unofficial $22 billion valuation based on an incomplete inventory is expected to rise as the list of centuries-old items expands.

The court said the five-member panel of experts from organizations including the National Museum, Archaeological Survey of India and the Reserve Bank of India will work under tight security at the site in Trivandrum, the capital of the southern state of Kerala. Once all of the riches are counted, the panel will report to a court-appointed oversight committee. Read more.

New Delhi, July 19 : The Sunderwala Burj, a 16th century mausoleum adjacent to Mughal emperor Humayun’s tomb, has been given a major facelift by the Aga Khan Trust for Culture, with the US embassy funding and support of the Archaeological Survey of India.

The mausoleum, part of the Humayun’s tomb complex, was restored at a cost of $50,000 from the American Ambassador’s Fund for Culture Preservation and a matching grant of the Aga Khan Trust, said conservation architect Ratish Nanda, who head the trust’s projects in India.

The trust is also spending in excess of $10 million to landscape the Sunder nursery surrounding the tomb as part of its Nizamuddin Urban Renewal Initiative. Read more.

New Delhi, July 16: Scientists have plucked clues from genetics, archaeology and linguistics to reconstruct a history of the domestication of bananas, showing that some of India’s cultivated bananas have 4,000-year old genomic roots from Southeast Asia.

Their studies suggest that the earliest cultivation of bananas was in the Kuk Swamp area of Papua New Guinea about 6,600 years ago, and that bananas were ferried by small groups of people from Southeast Asia moving westward into India and beyond.

A Southeast Asian banana species known as Mlali, a short and yellow variety, was carried from the Indonesian islands into India around 4,000 years ago where its genome is still found in three varieties — Pome, Nendra Padithi and Nadaan, their studies show. Read more.

New Delhi, July 8 (IANS) Two people were arrested with antique idols worth crores of rupees, police said Friday.

The arrested have been identified as Shaboor Ahmed alias Jaggi Khan, 34, and Firoz Khan, 30.

A senior police official said the arrests came after information was received Thursday that two people would be present in the Jama Masjid area with antique idols. A trap was laid and the two were apprehended.

Police recovered two antique idols together weighing 4.6 kg from their possession.

'The idols were inspected by experts from the Archeological Survey of India who told us that they are of 18th century and are made of brass. They are worth crores of rupees,' the official said. (source)

NEW DELHI: It was touted as the biggest public-private collaboration in Delhi between the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) and the heritage conservation body, Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (Intach), but an agreement between these two bodies to restore five protected monuments in Lodi Garden has hit rough waters.

After Intach and the ASI fell out over the quality of conservation work on the monuments, the work remained stalled for several months, and sources indicate that Intach has threatened to pull out of the agreement. Read more.