Three diamond-studded golden crowns worth several crores went missing from the Sri Govindaraja Swamy temple in Tirupati, Andhra Pradesh, on Saturday.
The discovery was made by the temple priest, Harikrishna Deekshitulu, just hours before an annual procession of the deities at 5.45 pm.
The ancient temple, located in Chittoor district, is one of the most visited and richest Hindu temples of the country.
Reports say that the crowns weigh around 1.3 kg. A complaint was filed with the Tirupati Urban police by temple superintendent Sri Gyana Prakash.
The police swung into action immediately. CCTV footages around the temple are being scanned, and six teams have been formed to crack the case and nab the culprits.
Senior police officials also visited the temple complex to investigate the case and gather details from the priest.
According to NDTV, the crowns belong to sub-temple gods – Malayappa, Sridevi and Bhoodevi. The Malayappa crown, weighing 528 gram, is the heaviest of the three.
The three are among the 18 sub-temples deities in the 12th century Vaishanava temple complex built by Sri Ramanujacharya.
The presiding deity of the temple is Lord Govindaraja (a form of Lord Vishnu) whose idol is in a reclining yoga nidra posture, facing east.
BJP activists reportedly held a protest demanding speedy action and raised slogan against the state government alleging mismanagement of the Hindu shrine.