The finest jewels and the precious treasures that Indian rulers once boasted was cold-bloodedly looted by the invaders, especially the British. Sad but true, today none of these invaluable artifacts, jewels and relics lie within the geographical borders of India.
Here we list 10 such priceless Indian artifacts which were stolen by the British from the Indian soil:
The Kohinoor diamond was mined at the Rayalaseema diamond mine in the Kollur mine in Golconda, India during the rule of the Kakatiya dynasty. It was taken away from a King of Malwa in 1306 whose family possessed it for generations. This oval shaped diamond then passed from one reigning empire to the next. The original name of the diamond was ‘Samantik Mani.’
It was acquired by the British from the Sikh Kingdom in 1849 when a young Duleep Singh (son of Maharaja Ranjit Singh) could not sustain the British power. The Kohinoor left the Indian shores on April 6 1850. Lord Dalhousie is the person responsible for the acquisition. Indians urge that the diamond should be returned to India the place it belongs to. However, in 2013, the Prime Minister of Britain during his 3 day visit to India said they do not believe in returnism.
A complete metal Buddha statue weighing around 500 kg was found in Sultanganj, a town in Bhagallpur district of Bihar during the construction of railways in 1861. Immediately, it was sent to Birhimgham by the railway engineer E.B Harris who found it. According to the archaeologists, the statue belongs to a period in between 500 and 700 AD. Today, you’ll find this Indian piece of art in Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery (BMAG).
The Nassak Diamond – The Eye of the Idol was found in the Amaragiri mine in Mahbubnagar of present day Telangana in India. The diamond was cut in India, and from 1500 to 1817 it remained as an adornment in the Trimbakeshwar Shiva Temple, Nashik in Maharashtra. However, in the Anglo-Maratha War (1818), the British East India Company acquired the Indian diamond and sold it to British jewelers.
In 1927, this blue, translucent and roughly pyramid shaped diamond was imported from Britain to the United States. In 1940 it was bought by American jeweler Harris Winston and now it is in possession of certain Edward J. Hand who bought the diamond in an auction in New York in the year 1970 for $500,000.The estimated value of Nassak Diamond now is $3.06 million.
The Sword and Ring of Tipu Sultan
After the heroic death of the Tiger of Mysore – Tipu Sultan, the British forces took away the ring and sword of Tipu Sultan and looted his arsenal. Both the war trophies of Tipu Sultan were displayed in the British Museum till 2004 after which Vijay Mallya placed the winning bid of £175,000 for the Sultan’s sword, and brought it back to the Indian soil. Successively, he also bought 30 other war items (at an Â£1 million investment) owned by Tipu Sultan from the UK auction houses including carved quivers. Flintlock pistols cannon, and other personal items.
The Golden Throne of Maharaj Ranjit Singh
The throne was built by goldsmith Hafez Muhammad Multani from about 1820 to 1830. The throne is made up of resin core, wood and is covered with sheets of repoussé, and gold. However, in 1849, the British took this Golden throne as part of the state property when they annexed Punjab after the Second Anglo Sikh War. In 1851, it was displayed with other treasures of the Indian Empire at the Great Exhibition. It is now kept in the V&A Museum with inventory number 2518(IS).
The Royal Jade Wine Cup of Shah Jahan
This wine cup of Shah Jahan was made up of jade which was either imported from Central Asia or China. This White nephrite jade was specially designed for the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan who had a keen interest in arts and artistry. The cup dates back to 1657 CE. The length and width of this jade cup is 18.7 and 14 cm respectively. It was acquired by Colonel Charles Seton Guthrie after the 1857 revolt. It passed from several purchasers to Queen Maria of Yugoslavia. In 1962, it was acquired by the Victoria and Albert Museum in 1962. (Source)
Amravati railings and Buddhapada
In British Museum, London, you’ll see a magnificent collection of 70 pieces depicting India’s famed Amravati sculptures. These sculptures were excavated by the British almost 140 years ago after which they were shipped to London from Madras (now Chennai) in 1859. They are so beautiful that one of the experts even mentioned, “You won’t see anything like this in India itself.” In fact the carvings are also sometimes compared with the eminent Elgin Marbles. (Source)
The Saraswati Marble Idol – Vag Devi
The marble statue of Goddess Saraswati, the Hindu goddess of music, knowledge and wisdom was one of the prized possession of the temple at Bhojsala in Central India (Madhya Pradesh), established by an enlightened “philosopher king” Raja Bhoj in 1034 AD. He dedicated his reign to developing centers of art. The figure was donated to the temple by a local family.
Although it is said that the statue got lost and was acquired by the British Museum in 1886, it is believed that when the East India Company defeated Hindus and conquered Malwa in 1826 AD, they also attacked Bhojshala and destroyed many monuments and temples. It is said that in one such raids,Vagdevi idol was looted by Lord Curzon. (Source) (Source)
The Mechanical Tiger Of Tipu
The mechanical tiger of Tipu Sultan expresses his hatred towards his enemy, the British. It is a toy where a tiger is seen savaging a near life-size European man. This mechanical tiger was found by the British in 1799 when they stormed inside his summer palace after defeating him.
It was first exhibited to the London public in 1808 in East India House and was later transferred to the Victoria and Albert Museum(V&A) in 1880 (accession number 2545(IS)). It now forms part of the permanent exhibit on the “Imperial courts of South India” From the moment it arrived in London to the present day, Tipu’s Tiger has been a popular attraction to the public. (Source)