The Kohinoor Before the Crown

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We decry the British for reducing India’s wealth drastically and leaving the country a pauper – and one of our biggest losses is the Kohinoor diamond. One of the largest diamonds in the world, it has a long history of bloodshed and intrigue even before the British stole it away. 

  • What’s in a name?

Legend has it that the Kohinoor diamond is about five thousand years old. It was originally known as Madnayak or the ‘King of Jewels’ before being renamed as the Kohinoor. Kohinoor, also spelt as Koh-i-noor or Koh-i-nur, is a Persian name which translates to ‘Mountain of light’. It was also popularly known as the diamond of Babur. The name Kohinoor was coined around the 18th century by Nadir Shah.

  • The Curse

It is believed that the Koh-i-Noor diamond carries with it a curse which has caused harm to men but not to women. The men who were in possession of this diamond either lost their fortunes or life.

  • Coveted by many

The diamond has changed hands over the centuries through many dynasties. But not once has it been exchanged for money – it was always either seized or stolen. Its previous owners include – the Kakatiyas , Allaudin Khilji, Raja Vikramaditya of Gwalior, the early Mughals, Babur and Humayun, the Shah of Iran, Shah Tehmasp and many more before it found itself with Maharaja Ranjit Singh, the Lion of Punjab. 

  • Tricked by the Queen

After the subjugation of Punjab in the Second Sikh War in 1849, Duleep Singh, the last Sikh ruler of Punjab, was ordered by the then governor general of India, Lord Dalhousie, to personally hand over the Kohinoor to the British Queen.

  • Mythical origins

Many believe that the ‘Syamantaka Mani’ mentioned in Vishnu Purana which dates back 5000 years, is none other than the Kohinoor diamond. It says that the stone was gifted by Surya, the Sun God, to his ardent devotee Satrajit. Like Kohinoor, the Mani was believed to possess magical powers and bring good fortune and plenty to its owner. It would bless him with eight measures of gold daily. The Mani history leaves a trail of theft, bloodshed and murder, very similar to the history of the Kohinoor.

Get ready for a roller coaster ride with William Dalrymple and Anita Anand as they guide you through the bloody history of this beautiful diamond in ‘Kohinoor: The Story of the World’s Most Infamous Diamond’, which you can read for free on 25th October 2021 from 7pm on the Juggernaut app!


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