Koh-i-Noor or Kohinoor means “mountain of light” is one of the largest cut diamond in the world. Kohinoor traces its origin to Golconda Mines of India from where it is supposed to have been mined however the issue remains controversial as there are no written sources referring to it at that time. But one thing is clear that it had its origin as well as initial possessors in India.
Kohinoor has a complicated past with its initial owners among Indian rulers, the Kakatiyas, Mughals including Babur, Humayun, Shah Jahan and back to Maharaja Ranjit Singh of Punjab. The diamond travelled back and forth among different dynasties of India, Afghanistan and Persia with Nadir Shah of Persia who looted it from India in an invasion in the reign of Muhammad Shah Rangeela. It was Maharaja Ranjit Singh who brought it back to India but later it was extorted by the Britishers.
Today, Kohinoor is part of the British Crown Jewels and is on public display at the Tower of London in the United Kingdom. India, Afghanistan and Pakistan have claimed the ownership of the diamond but the claims stand rejected by the UK in the name of Treaty of Lahore through which Britain acquired it from India.
As an Indian, we should be proud to know that India possessed and had some of the brightest and precious diamonds in the world when the world didn’t even know about it. Diamond mines of Golconda are older than those of South Africa, which are the largest source of diamonds in the world today.
For Centuries, India was the only source of diamonds in the world until the discovery of diamond mines in Brazil in 1725. Diamonds were mined from the famous Golconda Mines for the Indian rulers who adorned it with passion. Some diamonds were also exported to the European countries from India at that time. Kohinoor was also among one of the finest and largest diamonds mined from Golconda weighing around 186 carats.
Kohinoor remained in possession of many rulers of India including the Kakatiya dynasty, Allauddin Khilji, Raja Vikramaditya of Gwalior, among others who remain undocumented. Early Mughals including Babur and Humayun became the owners of the diamond after establishing Mughal dynasty expanding to most parts of India. In 1628, Shah Jahan commissioned the glorious “Peacock throne” which had Kohinoor embedded in it. For many years, Kohinoor remained in possession of Mughals until Muhammad Shah Rangeela who lost it to Nadir Shah of Persia during the invasion of Delhi in 1739.
From Nadir Shah of Persia, Kohinoor flipped among many rulers of Afghanistan and Persia until it was brought to India by the Sikh ruler Maharaja Ranjit Singh in 1813 from the Afghan Durrani dynasty. After, Ranjit Singh’s death in 1839 the Sikh throne passed on to different rulers for short periods of time. Duleep Singh was the last Sikh ruler who had Kohinoor in his possession but didn’t remain for long. In 1846, after the end of First Anglo-Sikh War Duleep Singh signed the “Treaty of Lahore” giving away all his sovereignty to British along with other possessions including the Kohinoor.
Now, the Kohinoor became a special possession of Queen Victoria and a legal possession of Britain. In 1851, Kohinoor was displayed at the Great Exposition in London for British to flaunt its might who called it a mere piece of common glass. Queen Victoria’s husband Prince Albert got the diamond cut and polished to half of its original size(105.6 carats) to make it shine more brilliantly. Queen Victoria
wore it as a broach but it later became part of the Crown jewels of Queen Alexandra. From then it became a part of the Crown jewels of UK and made its last public appearance in 2002, at the coffin of the Queen during her funeral.
Today, the diamond is on public display in a Museum at Tower of London in the UK. Countries like India, Pakistan and Afghanistan claim the ownership of the diamond but the UK rejects all such claims on the basis of Treaty of Lahore and considers itself the legal possessor of the diamond.