The journey of Kohinoor from India to London

TechNews Writer
Mon Oct 03, 2022

When India was governed by the British Empire in 1854, the Governor General at the time, Lord Dalhousie, sent a 15-year-old Punjabi boy to England. Lord Dalhousie thought the mother of this kid posed a threat and was unreliable. It was critical to separate him from his mother for this reason. In England, this boy converts to Christianity and becomes great friends with Queen Victoria's son, Edward VII. The British Crown was given custody of this youngster, who also received a £50,000 stipend per year. This child was no ordinary boy; he was Prince Duleep Singh. Also referred to as Maharaja Duleep Singh. The final emperor of the Indian Sikh Empire. It's interesting to note that Lord Dalhousie had asked Duleep, then 11 years old, to give Queen Victoria a diamond four years earlier, in 1849, when the British beat the Sikhs in battle. This diamond was the Kohinoor. It traveled 6,700 kilometers aboard a ship that year to get to London. "He who owns this diamond will own the world; But will also know all its misfortunes." according to a tale associated with the Kohinoor diamond. The rumor is referred to as the Koh-i-Noor Curse. Because everyone who owned Koh-i-Noor had lived lives filled with bloodshed, violence, and betrayals. This is the most infamous diamond in history. Let's dive into the interesting story of Koh-i-Noor.

Despite repeated requests to have the Kohinoor Diamond returned from Britain, it has long been preserved in the Jewel House of the Tower of London. During the British era, the Kohinoor diamond was transported from India to Britain. It turned into the queen's crown's jewel. Regarding this, there are numerous widely held theories. relating to Kohinoor's origins. Where was it found, exactly? Theo Metcalfe, a civil servant for the East India Company, noted in his report that this diamond was supposedly mined during Lord Krishna's lifetime. However, historians generally agree that this diamond was discovered in the Kollur Mines, which are located in the Golconda district of the state of Andhra Pradesh. On the Krishna River's banks in coastal Andhra Pradesh, the Golconda diamonds are discovered. Up until the discovery of diamond mines in Brazil in 1725, this region was the only place in the globe where diamonds could be found during the 18th century. The discovery of the Kohinoor diamond is unknown, however, typically, diamonds are found in the riverbeds of dried-up rivers. We don't even know when it was discovered historically. According to historians' best guesses, it was found sometime between 1100 and 1300. It is thought that a Hindu text from 1306 included Kohinoor's first recorded mention.

The issue is that nobody is aware of the text's title. No one is aware of who authored it either. The name Kohinoor was first mentioned in writing around 1526. Zahirudin Babur, the first Mughal emperor, arrived in India in 1526. He claimed at Baburnama that a diamond is worth half of what people spend on a daily basis worldwide. It is thought that he received the Kohinoor diamond as a reward for triumphing in a certain conflict. Shah Jahan mentioned Kohinoor a second time in 1628. when he ordered the renowned Peacock Throne. The construction of this throne took seven years. Additionally, it cost four times as much as the Taj Mahal. The creation of this throne required the use of numerous precious stones and diamonds. The Red Timur Ruby and the Kohinoor diamond, however, were the two most valuable stones. A fascinating fact is that the Kohinoor wasn't the most valuable gem the Mughals held. The most valuable stone for the Mughals was the Timur Ruby because they preferred it. Because the Mughals favored stones with vivid colors. The kings of the Hindu and Sikh religions, however, favored diamonds. Nevertheless, the Kohinoor was granted a high position on the Peacock Throne by being made the Peacock's eye. Kohinoor was not yet the name given to the diamond. 

A century later, under the Mughals, Delhi had grown to be one of the richest cities in the world, home to more than 2 million people—more than the populations of London and Paris put together. But the Mughal Empire had already begun to decline by this moment. Nadir Shah of Persia was drawn to Delhi by its wealth. Nadir Shah entered Delhi in 1739 and overthrew Mohammed Shah. The 15th Mughal emperor and Aurangzeb's great-grandson was Mohammed Shah. Nadir Shah brought back too many riches from Delhi. To transport the valuables, 12,000 horses, 4,000 camels, and 700 elephants were required. The Kohinoor diamond was one of these gems as well. According to popular belief, Nadir Shah obtained information from a Mughal Empire officer that Mohammed Shah had hidden the Kohinoor diamond in his turban. When the Kohinoor diamond fell to the ground, Nadir Shah proposed to Mohammed Shah to trade turbans as part of an ancient battle custom. Nadir Shah uttered Koh-i-Nur as a result of how brilliant it seemed in the light. Its actual meaning was "Mountain of Light." This is how the diamond got its name. However, Tarikhi 'Alamarayi Nadiri was a book written at the time by Nadir Shah's finance representative. The book's information gave us a written record that the Peacock Throne's head was where the Kohinoor was placed. Nadir Shah traveled with the Peacock Throne and wore the Kohinoor diamond and Timur Ruby as part of his wristband. The name of this diamond's origin tale could not be accurate. Nadir Shah had given this diamond the name Kohinoor, despite the fact that part of it was concealed by a turban. Because the diamond is referred to as Kohinoor in this text. The region of Kohinoor remained a part of modern-day Afghanistan for the following 70 years. This is when the Kohinoor Curse enters the picture.

"The possessor of the diamond will own the entire planet, but he will also be the recipient of all the bad luck." This saying, which was taken from a Hindu scripture that was penned in 1306, is said to be the Kohinoor diamond's earliest known mention. Although it is a superstition, you'll realize that it holds some truth. Nadir Shah experienced misfortune in 1747 when Nadir Shah's guard assassinated him. As a result, his empire fell. A soldier in Nadir Shah's army, Ahmad Shah Durrani was also known as Ahmad Khan Abdali. He established the brand-new Afghan empire. He became the Kohinoor diamond's new owner with it. The grandson of Nadir Shah, Shahrukh Shah, had molten lead poured on his head in a manner similar to that depicted in Game of Thrones in order to discover where Kohinoor was concealed, according to William Dalrymple and Anita Anand's book. There was a great deal of internal fighting in the Durrani empire as well, which you may name the "curse of Kohinoor" or whatever you choose. Timur, Ahmad's son, managed the empire skilfully, but subsequently, Ahmad's grandchildren engaged in a rivalry for the throne. Zaman Shah Durrani, Timur's son and the third emperor, was blinded with hot needles. Shuja Shah Durrani, his brother, was the fifth king. According to his wife, if a strong man hurled four stones in each of the four directions—North, South, East, and West—then flung the fifth pebble into the air, and the space contained by the five pebbles was filled with gold, the worth of all the gold there would still fall short of Kohinoor's value.

On his bracelet, Shuja Shah Durrani wore the Kohinoor. After being overthrown in 1809, he fled to Lahore with the Kohinoor diamond. He sought safety there from Maharaja Ranjith Singh. The Sikh Empire was founded by Ranjith Singh, who demanded the Kohinoor diamond in return for giving Durrani shelter. Thus, in 1813, the Sikh dominion received the Kohinoor diamond. Kohinoor had great symbolic value, even for Ranjith Singh. He reclaimed the territory that the Durrani dynasty had seized. He was referred to as the Lion of Lahore or the Sher-e-Punjab, and he sported the Kohinoor as an armlet on his bicep. When the British learned of Ranjith Singh's death in 1839, the East India Company's grip on India was becoming stronger, and they also learned of his intention to gift this diamond to some Hindu priests. This outraged the British newspapers at the time. "The richest, the most expensive gem in the known world, has been committed to the care of a profane, idolatrous, and mercenary priesthood," was written in one of the newspapers. The East India Company (EIC) was instructed by the British government to monitor the Kohinoor diamond. They ordered them to keep observing its movement and search for chances to obtain it for the British Treasury.

The British had to wait almost ten years. After Ranjith Singh's passing in 1839, the Punjabi monarchy was held by four different people over the course of the following four years. Only two persons were still standing in 1843. The first was Rani Jindan, the wife of Ranjith Singh, and the second was Prince Duleep Singh, a young boy of five. The East India Company finally overthrew the Punjab empire after the second Anglo-Sikh war in 1849. Duleep Singh was then around ten years old. EIC forced him to sign the Treaty of Lahore. The East India Company was meant to get the Kohinoor diamond in accordance with this treaty. The final significant state that the British had not captured was Punjab. The East India Company was determined to prevent the Sikh Empire from resurging after winning this battle. As a result, they sent the sole survivor of the family to London to become a Christian while they imprisoned Jindan. Duleep Singh was transferred to London in 1854 at the age of just 15, as I said at the beginning. Duleep Singh had the chance to see the Kohinoor once again in July 1854, when his portrait was being painted in Buckingham Palace by Queen Victoria. Duleep Singh rebelled against England in his later years and attempted to elude capture by the British by crossing the border into India. He attempted to enlist the aid of the Germans. Unfortunately, he was unable to succeed.

He allegedly passed away inexplicably in Paris at the age of 55. By that time, he was living in poverty and his living circumstances were pretty poor. On the other side, Kohinoor was given to Queen Victoria as a treasured possession. It's interesting to note that the "curse of Kohinoor" also claimed that only a woman or a god could wear it without consequences. The British public had the chance to see the Kohinoor at an exhibition that was staged in London's Hyde Park in 1851. The public's response, however, was somewhat unexpected. People were shocked to see empires engaged in a battle over a tiny pebble. People found it hard to accept that it was the same Kohinoor diamond that had caused so many deaths. It was only a piece of glass to them. According to a June 1851 article in the Times newspaper, Prince Albert, the husband of Queen Victoria, ordered the Kohinoor to be recut and polished in 1852 so that light could be reflected more effectively, and it could sparkle brightly. He intended for it to mesmerize everybody who looked at it. However, Kohinoor lost 40% of its weight as a result of this operation. After being recut and polished, it was reduced from 186 carats to 105.6 carats. The Kohinoor is currently around the size of a chicken egg.

The British were terrified of the Kohinoor Curse when they acquired Kohinoor. The British Royal Family decided they would not present a man with the Kohinoor. The Queen Consort would be the one to wear the Kohinoor if the monarch were a male. And for that reason, Kohinoor always moved to the Queen throughout the following years when the British monarchy was transferred. It eventually was incorporated into the Crown Jewels. After being first inserted into Queen Alexandra's crown and then Queen Mary's, it was ultimately set into the crown worn by the late Queen of England's mother in 1937. When the Queen Mother died in 2002, the crown was last seen in public. Both this crown and the Kohinoor are currently kept in the Jewel House inside the Waterloo barracks of the Tower of London. The British royal has owned Kohinoor for the longest during the last 800 years of its existence, hence they are maintained there. They have had Kohinoor with them for 173 years. 

Many Indians have strong feelings about the Kohinoor. The speech Shashi Tharoor gave at the Oxford Union in 2015 is well-known. "India's share of the world economy when Britain arrived on its shores, was 23 percent. By the time the British left, it was down to below 4 percent. India was already Britain's biggest cash cow, the world's biggest purchaser of British goods, and exports... " Indian Prime Minister Modi also praised his arguments. He outlined the economic and prosperity potential that British colonization cost India. Today, Kohinoor serves as a reminder of historical British colonialism. The Kohinoor diamond is in dispute—was it taken from India by the British, or was it a gift? They received that in return for the agreement. After Shashi Tharoor's remarks in 2015, a Non-Government Organization (NGO) filed a petition with the Supreme Court of India in 2016. The Kohinoor should be returned to the government, according to the petition, and the Indian government should demand that the British government hand up the diamond. However, Ranjith Kumar, who represented the government in court, asserted that the diamond was a part of the Lahore Treaty and that it had neither been stolen nor seized forcibly.

Later, the government declared on behalf of the Archaeological Survey of India that they will make every effort to recover the Kohinoor through friendly means. It was claimed that Mr. Kumar's arguments did not reflect those of the government. However, legally speaking, Kohinoor cannot be brought back to India. 



Appears in
2022 - Fall - Issue 4