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Book Review: Kohinoor by William Dalrymple & Anita Anand

Kohinoor by William Dalrymple is a non-fiction book based on the much highlighted and controversial diamond: Kohinoor.

As known worldwide, William Dalrymple is popular for his research and non-fiction genres. This time, once again digging the Indian history, he takes up a glittering, yet controversial, diamond to tell its stories that have been passed on from one era to another, and co-authoring him is Anita Anand. They have joined hands to help readers explore this diamond’s history.

The book takes the readers to a different world of past, starting from the Indian prehistory of the scintillating diamond Kohinoor to how the spiritual stories are associated with its origin. Where it is related to the Puranic Kathas and Hindu began to equate the diamond with the legend of Krishna. Author will take you through the different believes and stories mentioned in the Garuda Purana, Bhagavad Purana, Kautilya's Arthasastra.... to understand Kohinoor's origin and significance to the human race before finding its way to Delhi and then to many more rulers.

The authors have also discussed the Mughal’s era, where Kohinoor was the symbol of beauty and prestige, but still its origin remains unsolved though it tells how it goes into different hands.

Next era is of bloodshed, the era of Nader Shah, his lust for power and conquering brings him to a tragic end. Around the same time, the other stone started taking its place and popularity in the state treasury; like the Darya-i-Noor and Timur Ruby and meanwhile the Kohinoor takes its journey to Afghanistan.

After witnessing the lives lost of many, it becomes clear that none of its possessors lived happily. They keep losing something or other. In a nutshell, to whom it may suit was an arcane case. Despite that, it continued its journey from Persia to back in India into the hand of Shere Punjab Raja Ranjit Singh, his era too ended with bloodshed and lives of many. It is sad part of the history to see Punjab turning into the city of ashes. The chapter about Ranjit Singh looks very well researched and written. That’s why it is quite interesting one.

In the end, Kohinoor takes its position into the hands of East India company, but behind this there is  story of unfortunate boy and a mother, "Duleep Singh son and Maharani Jindan Kaur", seventeenth wife of Ranjit Singh. Their story ends with pain too.

The Kohinoor on its curse does not leave the lives of the British royal family untouched. The history speaks on its own; the story of Kohinoor, tale of greed, conquest, murder, pain, torture, separation through the south and central Asia and at the same time story of changing fashion in jewelery and precious stones. It takes its journey from the Peacock Throne of Mughals to the crown of Queen Victoria, but on stake of many lives and kingdoms.

At present many countries including India still fighting and trying to prove its origin and possession belongs to them. Is the Kohinoor again looking for to show its power of curse on its possessor or the mystery will remain unsolved?

The language, research and writing style of authors have left so much impact on readers that now they would be encouraged to read more of its history.

In the end it can be concluded that the Kohinoor diamond always remained a curse to its owner and for this reason it was never a stable a gem. Whether it is a symbol of pride or the symbol of curse to its possessor, the facts are hidden itself in the arcane sanguinary diamond 'Kohinoor. It is going to be an unsolved mystery of its origin and possession.

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