India, Sept. 15 -- The British police on Tuesday handed over to India ancient idols of Lord Ram, Lakshman and Sita that were stolen from Tamil Nadu in 1978, as part of growing efforts to return artefacts of India's cultural heritage from across the world.

The handover ceremony at India House was attended by officials of the Metropolitan Police and remotely by Union minister for culture and tourism Prahlad Singh Patel from New Delhi, as well as officials in Chennai.

The idols, being sent back to Tamil Nadu, were stolen from a temple built in the Vijayanagar period in the Nagapattinam district. They were voluntarily handed over to the police by an unidentified UK-based collector when informed that they were stolen property. Information fr...