In an early morning, the group began their exploration. By mid-day, they arrived at the cave housing a temple of Hindu god Shiva, a particularly notable temple due to its size, architecture and been entirely carved out of a single rock. However, the group noticed that at both sides of the entrance, two empty platforms. A local caretaker explained that historically both platforms housed the statues of Indian god Ganesh (elephant-headed), welcoming the devotees. But pillaging over the ages saw those statues disappear along with other invaluable artifacts.
Two years later, Prof. Basu delivered an invited lecture at Oxford on her latest archeological projects. Then she traveled to explore a well-known estate in the countryside, open to the public. The estate belonged to the same family throughout several generations. After securing an entrance ticket, she walked several meters, finally arriving at the entrance of a castle-like building. To her astonishment, she observed that on each side of the door, a stone statue of Indian god Ganesh was welcoming the visitors. Her heart began to throb. Looking at the architectural style, she had no doubt they were the same statues, once welcomed the devotees to the Shiva Temple in Ellora Caves. Later, strolling through room to room, she noticed more miniature statues of Hindu gods and goddesses as well as Lord Buddha in different meditative poses. There were historic paintings on the walls and gold and silver jewelries in glass showcases. She learned that at least members of two successive generations of this family served in India during British Raj.
Once outside, Prof. Basu sat on a garden bench. She thought about Germany’s efforts to return the treasures that the Nazis, under the Third Reich, looted from the Jewish victims. Nowadays, in the US, a discussion of compensating the descendents of the past African American slaves has been initiated. On the other hand, many powerful western countries that colonized poorer nations in both Asia and Africa in the past never held responsible for plundering their both religious and non-religious treasures, effectively raping their cultural identities. Many of the looted treasures were never returned, instead being showcased in palaces and museums.
With a heavy heart, she looked back at those two statues at the entrance, before leaving for the nearby station to catch a train to the Heathrow Airport for a return flight to her motherland.