New Release: Kohinoor: The Story of the World’s Most Infamous Diamond

By Nirupama Dutt


Instead of becoming a jewel in the crown, the diamond of destiny — Kohinoor — could well have been adorning the idol of Lord Jagannath at the Puri temple. It is said that it was the dying wish of mighty Maharaja Ranjit Singh that all his jewels, including the famous or now labelled the ‘most infamous diamond of history’, to the Puri temple. However, his wish conveyed by his head Brahmin, Bhai Gobind Ram, when the Maharaja was on his deathbed was opposed by his chief treasurer Misr Beli Ram and the diamond moved to the crown.

This episode is described at length in ‘Kohinoor: The story of the world’s most infamous diamond’, the will book authored by William Dalrymple and Anita Anand, which was launched here on Thursday. Speaking to HT, Dalrymple said: “Many myths and legends surrounded Kohinoor, but this last wish of the Maharaja is sourced from the Maharaja’s court journal ‘Umtad-ul-Tawarikh’.”

 The less-told story of Maharaja’s last wish finds prominent place in the fifth chapter ‘Ranjit Singh: The Kohinoor in Lahore’. It is said that when the Maharaja of the Punjab was nearing his end and suffered a major stroke in June 1839, he started giving away his most valuable possessions. During his last pilgrimage to the holy city of Amritsar, he donated much of his wealth before he assembled his officers and made them take the oath of allegiance to his eldest son Kharak Singh. Read more