A number of historically-important items, including some ancient idols, sculptures and remnants of temples dating back to the 10th and 11th century near Chitrakoot's Sarbhanga ashram in Madhya Pradesh have reportedly been stolen.
A report in The Times of India suggests that these items were stolen and illegally smuggled out during mining operations in the last five years on the Sanwar Hill, where the ashram is located. The report further added that heavy mining in the area has led to the destruction of many such heritage idols in the past.
Legend has it that Lord Ram spent a few months of his 14-year-exile in the dense forests of Chitrakoot along with his wife, Sita, and brother, Laxman. In 2007, Chief Minister Shivraj Chouhan had ordered the conservation of the sites having archaeological importance under the Ram Van Path Project. However, mining activities began a mere 50m from the ashram soon after.