When a 'Mountain' went to London: The story of Kohinoor Diamond

New Delhi: The famed Kohinoor, one of the world's largest diamonds, which is currently set in a royal crown on display in the Tower of London, is unlikely to be returned to India as the United Kingdom reaffirmed that there are no legal grounds to return the prized diamond.

India had twice sought the Kohinoor's return, in 1948 and 1953, and several MPs had made the same demand in a letter in the year 2000. But Britain refused each time.


Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iran too have cited the Kohinoor's chequered history to stake claim to it.

The Kohinoor's origins are shrouded in mystery. According to one legend, it was mined in Andhra Pradesh and passed into the possession of the Delhi sultan, Alauddin Khilji, in the early 14th century. Its known history begins with Persian invader Nadir Shah carrying it away in 1739.

The stone eventually fell into the hands of Ahmed Shah Durrani, ruler of Afghanistan. One of his embattled sons, Shah Shuja Durrani, gave it to Maharaja Ranjit Singh during an India visit in 1813 in exchange for his hospitality and help.

After the East India Company won the second Anglo-Sikh War, it signed a treaty with Ranjit's successors in Lahore in 1849, laying down that the diamond would be handed over to Queen Victoria.

The current petition also seeks the return of the "ring and other treasures of Tipu Sultan, Bahadur Shah Zafar, Rani of Jhansi, Nawab Mir Ahmad Ali Banda and other rulers of India".

1739: Nadir carries away the Kohinoor and the other Mughal treasures, including Shah Jahan's Peacock Throne and the Darya-i-Noor, another famous diamond.

1747: Nadir assasinated. Ahmed Shah Durrani, one of his generala and Emir of Afghanistan grabs the Kohinoor.

1771-1812: After Ahmed Shah's death his sons vie for power. One of his sons, Shah Shuja, is arrested in present-day Afghanistan but his wife Wafa Begum escapes with Kohinoor to Lahore and seeks refuge with Maharaja Ranjit Singh of Punjab.

The Kohinoor's origins are cloaked in mystery. Its documented history begins 277 years ago, when Persian invader Nadir Shah snatched it away from Mughal rulers and called it "Koh-i-Noor" (Mountain of Light). 

1813: Ranjit Singh's troops defeat Ata Muhammad Khan, king of Kashmir and ally of Shuja's brother. Shuja is released and brought to Lahore. Ranjit takes the Kohinoor in exchange.

1849: The East India Company wins the second Anglo-Sikh war and signs the Last Treaty of Lahore which says the Kohinoor will be handed over to Queen Victoria by Ranjit's successor Duleep as part of war reparations. Duleep, aged 13, travels to England and hands the diamond over.

1851: The Kohinoor is kept on display at Hyde Park London.

1852: It is re-cut and embedded into Queen Victoria'a brooch.

1901: It is installed in the crown of Queen Alexandria, wife of King Edward VII, at his coronation.

1911: It is refitted into into a new crown of Mary, wife of King George V, at his coronation

1937: It is again refitted into into the crown of Queen Elizabeth, wife of King George 6, and mother of Queen Elizabeth II.

1853 to present: Kept in the tower of London with the other crown jewels.

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