Seated comfortably with the Crown jewels of the Queen mother at the Tower of London, the Kohinoor diamond has been a bone of contention between the Indian and the British governments for decades. History has it that the British first came into possession of the diamond in 1850 after the conquest of Punjab, then under Maharaja Ranjit Singh.
The diamond, however, changed hands several times before finally coming into the ownership of the British.
The origin of the diamond has been placed in the Golconda in Andhra Pradesh. It was mined from the Rayalaseema diamond mine when it was under the rule of the Kakatiya dynasty.
Under the rulership of Alauddin Khilji, the second ruler of the Delhi Sultanate dynasty, the Khiljis made successful raids in Southern India. It is believed that the Khiljis came to acquire the diamond in one such expedition at Warangal in 1310.
The diamond then kept switching ownership of the succeeding rulers of the Delhi Sultanate. In 1526 Babur defeated Ibrahim Lodi, from whom he acquired the diamond. Babur mentions the diamond in his memoir, the Baburnama.
After Babur, there is record that it adorned Shah Jahan’s Peacock throne.
The Persian monarch, Nadir Shah invaded the Mughal empire in 1739 and therein obtained the diamond. Legend has it that it was Nadir Shah who gave the diamond its current name, ‘koh-i-noor’, which in Persian means mountain of light.
Nadir Shah was assassinated in 1747 and his empire disintegrated. After his death, the Kohinoor came into the acquisition of one of his generals, Ahmad Shah Durrani. One of his descendents, Shah Shuja Durrani gave the diamond to Ranjit Singh of Punjab, who in return helped Durrani win back the throne of Afghanistan.
In 1849, the British conquered Punjab and the Lahore treaty was proclaimed. One term in the treaty stated that:
The gem called Kohinoor which was taken from Shah Shuja-ul-Malik by Maharaja Ranjit Singh shall be surrendered by the Maharajah of Lahore to the Queen of England.
Lord Dalhousie, in 1851, arranged for the Kohinoor to be presented to Queen Victoria by Duleep Singh, successor of Ranjit Singh. The presentation of the diamond was a grand event organized in Hyde Park, London.
Since then, the Kohinoor has remained in England. The government of India on Monday, told the Supreme Court that the Kohinoor was not taken away by the British government, but was given as a gift to them by Maharaja Ranjit Singh.
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