The Golconda Diamond Mines
The Golkonda fort was first built by Kakatiyas as part of their western defenses. The fort Plan was designed after the Kondapalli Fort near Vijayawada, Krishna Dt. It was built in 945 CE-970 CE. The fort was strengthened by Musunuri Nayaks who overthrew the Tughlak army occupying Warangal. In the 16th century, Golkonda was the capital city of the Qutb Shahikingdom, near Hyderabad. The city was home to one of the most powerful Muslim sultanates of the region and was the flourishing center of diamond trade.
The city and fortress are built on a granite hill that is 120 meters (400 ft) high and is surrounded by massive crenelatedramparts. The beginnings of the fort date to 1143, when the Hindu Kakatiya dynasty ruled the area. The Kakatiya dynasty were followed by the state of Warangal, which was later conquered by the Islamic Bahmani Sultanat. The fort became the capital of a major province in the Sultanate and after its collapse the capital of the Qutb Shahi kings. The fort finally fell into ruins after a siege and its fall to Mughal emperor Aurangazeb.
After the collapse of the Bahmani Sultanat, Golkonda rose to prominence as the seat of the Qutb Shahi dynasty around 1507. Over a period of 62 years the mud fort was expanded by the first three Qutb Shahi kings into a massive fort of granite, extending around 5 km in circumference. It remained the capital of the Qutb Shahi dynasty until 1590 when the capital was shifted to Hyderabad. The Qutb Shahis expanded the fort, whose 7 km outer wall enclosed the city. The state became a focal point for Shia Islam in India, for instance, in the 17th century, Bahraini clerics, Sheikh Ja`far bin Kamal al-Din and SheikhSalih Al-Karzakani both emigrated to Golkonda.
Golkonda is renowned for the diamonds found on the south-east at Kollur Mine near Kollur Guntur district), Paritala Krishna district) and cut in the city during the Kakatiya reign. At that time, India had the only known diamond mines in the world.
Golkonda’s mines yielded many diamonds. Golkonda was the market city of the diamond trade, and gems sold there came from a number of mines. The fortress city within the walls was famous for diamond trade. However, Europeans believed that diamonds were found only in the fabled Golkonda mines.
Magnificent diamonds were taken from the mines in the region surrounding Golkonda, including Darya-e Nur, meaning sea of light, at 185 carats (37.0 g), the largest and finest diamond of the crown jewels of Iran.
Its name has taken a generic meaning and has come to be associated with great wealth. Gemologists use this classification to denote a diamond with a complete (or almost-complete) lack of nitrogen; “Golkonda” material is also referred to as “2A”.
Many famed diamonds are believed to have been excavated from the mines of Golkonda, such as:
- Darya-e Nur
- Nur-Ul-Ain Diamond
- The Koh-i-noor
- The Hope Diamond
- Princie Diamond
- The Regent Diamond
- Wittelsbach Diamond
By the 1880s, Golkonda was being used generically by English speakers to refer to any particularly rich mine, and later to any source of great wealth.
During the Renaissance and the early modern eras, the name “Golkonda” acquired a legendary aura and became synonymous for vast wealth. The mines brought riches to the ruling Qutb Shahis of Hyderabad State, who ruled Golkonda up to 1687, then to ruling Asaf Jah of Hyderabad State, who ruled after the independence from the Mughals in 1724, until 1948, when Hyderabad was annexed, to become an Indian state.