India before the British rule was a rich country which fascinated both travelers and invaders around the world. The recent excavation at the Padmanabha temple which belonged to the royal family of the Travancore state (Kerala) came up with one of the largest treasures found in India with gold and other ornaments valuing around 1 lakh crore. If such small princely state had so much wealth, think about how much foreign invades and rule might have looted when India had more than 500 princely states and major kingdoms like Mysore and Jaipur. In the name of civilizing British rule also plundered a lot of our fabulous wealth and resources and took away some of the priceless treasures which used to tell the glory and galore of our country’s past.
Koh-i-Noor meaning “Mountain of Light” took birth in the state of Andra Pradesh along with its sibling Darya-ye Noor meaning “Sea of Light”. This precious stone is the world’s largest diamond and has travelled a lot and seen the raise, war and fall of many great dynasties and emperors ranging from Persia, Mughal, Turkic, Afghan, Sikh and finally now sits in Britain as a part of British Crown Jewel. This diamond was once a part of the famous ‘Peacock throne’ of Shah Jahan. It is said that Koh-i-Noor was presented to Queen Victoria in 1849 during the East Indian Company rule by the son of the Maharaja of Lahore. But according to the critics the stone was not willingly surrendered, it was robbed by British governor general, Lord Dalhousie. In 2010 Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) has joined the campaign with Egypt and Greece with the support of UNESCO in hopes of getting looted antiquities returned to the rightful country which includes this precious diamond. Till now no favorable results, but the efforts continues.
This famous Mughal throne was build during the rule of Mughal emperor Shah Jahan, the throne was one the post priceless possession which got lost in between the war of power between dynasties. The throne was inlaid with precious stones like sapphires, rubies, emeralds, pearls, including the Kohinoor diamond. The throne used to reside in the public audience hall- Diwan-i-Am-in Delhi. The throne was stolen by the Nader Shah and taken to Persia in 1739. After the death of Nader Shah in 1747 the original Peacock Throne disappeared from the records, nobody knows whether it was stolen or dismantled, it is said to be demolished by the tribesmen and the jewels were taken away. Two replicas of the Peacock throne were later made in 1812 and 1836.
Sword of Tipu Sultan
Tipu Sultan lost his sword during a war with Nairs of Travancore, from there the sword travelled to the Nawab of Arcot and then to London. After about two centuries the sword was kept for auction in 2004 in London when the Indian industrialist-politician Vijay Mallya bought it along with some other historical artifacts and this symbol of power came back to India.
Dagger of Shah Jahan
This royal Khanjar (dagger) dates back to 1629-1630 and resembles the art and supremacy of Mughal Empire. The 16-inch long gold encrusted curved dagger has inscriptions on it stating the name of Shah Jahan, his honorific titles and the place and date of the dagger’s manufacture. This dagger which symbolizes exalted status of Indian history was auctioned for 13.4 crore in 2008 and was bought a buyer who remains anonymous.
Darya-ye Noor was found along with the famous Koh-i-Noor from the state of Andra Pradesh. This 182 carats pale pink color rare diamond was once the part of Shah Jahan’s Mughal treasury which was robbed by Nader Shah of Iran. The diamond passed on the ruling dynasties of Iran and now finally resides as a part of the Iranian Crown Jewels and is on display at the Central Bank of Iran in Tehran
The Buddha Sakyamuni also known as the Birmingham Buddha is a 2.3m tall bronze statue which was founded by a British railway engineer E B Harris in north-east India in 1861. He saved it from smelting and sold it to Midlands’s industrialist, from there the statue reached Birmingham’s city museum. The effort of ASI to bring looted antiquities back to the rightful country covers this also.
This beautiful railing which was excavated in the early 19th century by two British military explorers was sold to British Museum. This limestone tablet was once the frontage of “stupa”- temple built to house Buddhist relics in south-eastern India. This 2000 year old railing depicts scenes from the life of Buddha and tells the spiritual journey of Buddhism in India. ASI is also trying to bring this plaque back to Indian from Britain.
Saraswati statue of Bhojsala Temple
This marble statue which depicts the Hindu and Jain goddess of knowledge, music and learning used to be one of the precious possessions of Bhojsala Temple in central India. The temple was established by one of the “philosopher king” of central Indian who devoted his reign for the development of art. This statue was donated to the temple by a local family; the statue got lost long back and now sits in British Museum from 1886.
- Nadir Shah enters Delhi and captures the Peacock Throne (oup.com)
- The Kohinoor Diamond (wovensouls.wordpress.com)
- The Great Mughal Emperors (socyberty.com)