Monday, July 30, 2012

Timeline of the Koh-i-Nur (Koh-i-Noor) Diamond: Oral Tradition to 1526

Koh-i-Noor Armlet
Photo Credit: Stalking the Belle Epoque

Many of my sources do not provide bibliographic reference, and the diamond’s history is shrouded in oral tradition. It often disappeared for decades without being seen by the public, so these dates are rough and unproven. However, the path these historians follow seems to be a logical one, so I will share it with you with the disclaimer that I have not been able to prove these dates unequivocally. ~AMA

Surya in his chariot
Photo Credit: Hindu God Wallpaper

circa 3,000 BC
Surya, the Sun God, gives Syamantaka mani to Satrajit near Dwarka.

Time between times
Syamantaka mani is handed down among many legendary kings.

Circa 300 BC
Syamantaka mani is supposedly given to King Porus of Punjab.

325 BC
King Alexander of Macedonia, impressed with King Porus’ regal manners, allowed him to maintain rule of his land. Alexander signed a peace treaty with King Porus, allowing Porus to maintain governance of Punjab. The jewel remained in India when Alexander returned to Macedonia.

320 BC
King Chandragupta Maurya established the Maurya Empire and successfully unified India. The diamond became part of his treasury in Pataliputra.

298 BC
Bindusara inherited his father’s throne and treasury, including the famed jewel.

Photo Credit: Stravaganza

215 BC to 185 BC
The gemstone remained in Ujjain throughout the next several centuries, passed down among the successive rulers of the Mauryan Empire.

185 BC to 320 AD
The Mauryan Empire crumbled, and the city of Ujjain was ruled by the Sungas, the Satavahanas, and then the Rors. The whereabouts of the gemstone during this time remain a mystery.

320 AD
The Gupta Dynasty began, and Ujjain became a prominent port city of that dynasty. The whereabouts of the gemstone during this time continue to remain a mystery.

375 AD
Vikramaditya (Chandragupta II), emperor of the Gupta dynasty (a Hindu dynasty), adopted the city of Ujjain as the capital city of his empire. It is at this time that some believe he acquired the Syamantaka mani.

415 AD to 1293 AD
Vikramditya died in 415 AD, leaving the country in turmoil. In this season, the diamond was held in custody by the Parmar dynasty of Malwa, which remained in power until 1305 AD.

1294 AD
It is recorded in the Baburnama that the last Rajah of Malwa (unnamed in the text) handed the diamond over to Ala-ud-din Khilji, the first ruler of the Khilji Dynasty. Babur, who wrote the Babrunama in 1526 AD, did not document his sources as to the lineage of the diamond, so he may have been recording oral legends surrounding the stone. Also, there is some discrepancy among my sources. Some say that Khilji did not attain the stone until 1306 AD.

Ala-ud-din Khilji
Photo Credit: Wikipedia

1294 AD
If Babur’s account is correct, this would be the diamond’s first trip away from Malwa in many centuries. Khilji ruled his dynasty from Delhi. The history of the diamond remains fuzzy up until Babur acquired it in 1526.

1517 AD
Ibrahim Lodi ascended the throne of Delhi. At this time rebellion was incited by his younger brother, Jalal Khan, who attempted to claim the throne. Meeting with failure, he sought refuge from the Raja of Gwalior, at which time Lodi captured Gwalior. Jalal escaped and fled to Malwa, where he was murdered by the Gonds. Lodi’s reign became a reign of suspicion and terror, as he turned every friend into a foe and brought about the end of the Delhi Sultanate.

1526 AD
Babur invades India and defeats Ibrahim Lodi at the Battle of Panipat. One source explains that both Lodi and Raja Vikramaditya of Gwalior were killed on the battlefield of Panipat. Captured by the Mughal army after an attempt to escape, the Raja’s family members were permitted by Prince Humayan to take their leave without punishment. In an expression of gratitude, it is said that the royal family of Gwalior gave a mass of jewels, including the Koh-i-Nur diamond, to the Prince.


1. Mughal History. "First Battle of Panipat from Baburnama." Accessed July 23, 2012.
2. Tripod. "Kohinoor Heera." Accessed July 23, 2012.
3. Chaurasia, R. S. History of Medieval India From 1000 A.D. to 1707 A.D. New Delhi: Atlantic Publishers and Distributors, 2002.
4. Sikh Institute. Maharaja Duleep Singh: The King in Exile. Appendix: Koh-I-Noor Diamond--Its History. ;Accessed July 23, 2012.
5. Kaur, Harpreet. "Koh-i-noor, a Mountain of Light." Dance with Shadows. Accessed July 23, 2012.
6. Tripod. "The Koh-I-Noor." Accessed July 23, 2012.
7. Tweedie, Neil. "The Koh-i-Noor: diamond robbery?" The Telegraph Online. July 29, 2010. Accessed July 23, 2012.
8. Royal Exhibitions. "Crowns." Accessed July 23, 2012.
9. Kent, J. J. "The Crown Jewels of England: The Koh-i-noor." Accessed July 23, 2012.
10. Forevermark. "A Notorious Diamond." Accessed July 23, 2012.
11.Rushby, Kevin. “Chasing the Mountain of Light: Across India on the Trail of the Koh-i-Noor Diamond.” Great Britain: Constable and Company Limited, 1999.
12.Harlow, George E., editor. “The Nature of Diamonds.” Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1998.
13. ReoCities. "The Memoirs of Babur." Accessed July 23, 2012.

*Clip art courtesy of The Graphics Fairy

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