I’ll be honest, tower of London was not on my priority when I got a chance to visit London on a short official tour. But when I googled the whereabouts of Kohinoor diamond, and located it to be in Tower of London it suddenly became my no.1 place to visit.
Well, who doesn’t want to see Kohinoor!!!! We, Indians, are brought up hearing the story of Kohinoor. True to its name which means mountain of light, it’s one of the biggest and brightest. And it carries a prolonged history behind it. It is unarguably the most famous diamond in the Crown Jewels.
The 106 carat Kohinoor diamond is set today in the Crown of Queen Elizabeth the Queen’s Mother and is kept in the Tower of London along with other royal heirlooms. We can see the present Queen wearing it on special occasions.
Let’s take a peek into the History of Kohinoor, before it came to UK.
- 1300 to 1500: The diamond – not yet named Kohinoor is believed to be mined in Andhra Pradesh state of India, possibly in the 13th century. At that time it weighed 793 carats uncut and was first owned by Kakatiya dynasty after which it was looted by Khilji Dynasty
- 1500 to 1700: It came in possession of Mughal emperors – Babur, Shah Jahan and Aurangzeb, Sultan Muhamad. While in the possession of Aurangzeb, it was cut, so clumsily that the weight of the stone reduced from 793 carats to 186 carats
- 1700: During this period Delhi was invaded by Nader Shah and Mughal treasure was looted along with the diamond. Nader shah took it to Persia and gave it, its now-famous name – Kohinoor.
- 1800: The diamond returns to India when and was gifted to Maharaja Ranjit Singh – the founder of the Sikh empire. It’s also interesting to know that Maharaja Ranjit Singh died, leaving the diamond – and his kingdom – to his 5-year-old Duleep Singh, who became the last Indian sovereign to own the Kohinoor
- 1849: The British win the second Anglo-Sikh War and annexe the Sikh kingdom of Punjab under the Treaty of Lahore. 11-year-old Duleep Singh signs over the kingdom and the diamond over to them before stepping down from his throne.
- 1850: The diamond is presented to Queen Victoria, who was ‘disappointed’ with the stone’s uncut appearance, orders the polishing of the Kohinoor. The final product, shaves off significant portions of the stone, reducing its weight from 186 to its current 105.6 carats
And that is how this priceless diamond traveled in history and got its name, shape, size, weight and current home.
So my first weekend in London, completely mesmerized with the thought of Kohinoor, I decided to start my sightseeing from The Tower of London. It was a beautiful day with bright sunshine after a week of clouds & rains. I took a train from my place to reach Tower hill station, the nearest tube station for “The tower of London”. Located on the Thames river, right alongside the beautiful Tower Bridge, the Tower of London is a castle which dates back to 1066. It was a royal residence, home to King Henry VIII and Edward I
It took me 45 mins & 25 pounds to finally enter the giant “The Crown Jewels” Vault. There were several precious jewels, armours, shields, swords, which were all worth seeing, but I was impatient to see the Kohinoor and nothing could stop my eyes for more than 5 sec. I made my way directly towards the crowns section and then there it was……
the first glimpse of it….was dazzling, sparkling and glimmering. And it was beyond any words could express. It was stunning, oh-so-gorgeous….I was suddenly filled with mixed emotions. Glad to be fortunate enough to get a chance to see this incredible beauty and sad that I had to come all the way from India to London to see it. It could have been the pride of India, had the history written itself a little differently.
Too unfortunate, no one is allowed to take pictures there, but the reflection of it on my memory will always shine brightest and biggest! After all it was Koh-i-noor – the biggest and brightest diamond in history.