May 7, 2021: From the first century to 11th century, India was known as “Sone Ki Chidiya” or Golden Bird.
India was a land full of treasure where many invaders came under the garb of trading. At that time ancient India was a global export hub, producing 43% of the world’s requirement and exporting to different parts of the world.
Why India was called the Golden Bird
In 300 BCE, when the Mauryas were ruling the majority of India, many traders from the West already started coming.
Borders were secured with guards and traders were only allowed after proper checking. Trading was done with exchange of gold coins.
By the time the Guptas started to rule India, the country had already become a global export hub where India was exporting 43% of world’s production. Indian spices were famous and exported to different parts of the world.
Apart from spices, India was also exporting cotton, rice, wheat, silk, glass, jewels, and many such things. Metal and minerals like gold, iron, copper, limestone, magnesium, diamonds were not just produced but also exported to different parts of the world.
Trading system in ancient India
For many centuries, the barter system was followed in India.
Later, at the time of Mahajanapada, gold and silver coins came into existence for better trade.
When we talk about ancient India’s GDP, it was estimated to be 32.9% of world share in the first century and later reduced to 28.9% in the 11th century making it one of the largest economies in the world.
Western people started to call India the Golden Bird but invaders used trade as an opportunity to loot treasure.
After the Islamic invasion in the 11th century, they started to loot goods and by the 15th century, Indian GDP reduced to 24.5% making it the second largest after China.
In ancient India, there was more gold and treasure in temples than houses.
And recently,1000 years old Padmanabhaswamy temple in Kerala opened five gates out of six where they found priceless gold and diamonds. The statue of Vishnu Padmanabhaswamy is estimated to cost Rs 1 lakh crore.
Even after looting, India’s economy in the Mughal period was £17.5 million, greater than the entire treasure of Great Britain. But when the East India Company entered India, British looted so much of India’s wealth that they brought down the GDP from 24.5% to 3% of world’s share in 1947 and today India’s GDP stands at 7% in global share.
Sir Osman Ali Khan: Richest man in the World in 1937
He was declared the world’s richest man in 1937. He ruled over Hyderabad which then comprised today’s Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Maharashtra.
He was often called His Exalted Highness or mockingly His Exhausted Highness. This was so because he had seven wives and 42 concubines, and had at least 149 children.
He gifted No. 110 Squadron RAF’s complement of DH.9A aircraft to British Empire during world war one and each aircraft had an inscription of Hyderabad Kingdom. The State Bank of Hyderabad belonged to him and handled the currency of Hyderabad.
In 1947, a tiara and necklace made of diamonds were gifted to princess Elizabeth by this last Nizam of Hyderabad on the occasion of princess’ marriage.
The gift is still kept by the Queen. He was a firm believer of education, thus donated a huge sum of money for institutions in India and abroad.
He was a man who bought 50 Rolls Royce and used them to dump his garbage just to show off the wealth Indians possessed when a British official who made fun of his capacity to buy one Royce!
Priceless Peacock Throne
This magnificent piece of ancient India’s artefact was made up of 1,150 kg of gold and 230 kg of precious stones.
In 1999, it was estimated that this throne would cost $804million dollars or roughly 4.5 billion. Its construction cost was twice as much as that Taj Mahal. Its construction was initiated by Shah Jahan in the early 17th century.
The idea was to give a God-like image of the emperor by building stairs which led to the throne giving an impression of a ruler floating above ground and closer to heaven. The throne was to be situated between two pillars each having two peacocks with a set of trees, laden with rubies and diamond, emeralds and pearls.
There were 10 jeweled recesses for cushions and in the middle a 105 carat Kohinoor, which was the seat of the Emperor. The back of the throne had a design of a peacock’s tail made up of sapphires, turquoise and pearls. The throne was taken away by Persian ruler, Nadir Shah, in 1739 as a war trophy.
Later a dummy version of the throne was built to take the unbeatable position of The Peacock Throne.
The Kohinoor is a 105 carat diamond and was once the largest diamond of the world. It is said that the diamond is 5,000-year-old, and also known as the Syamantaka jewel. But the earliest known reference to the Kohinoor diamond is in 1526 when Babur conquered Gwalior. The Raja of Gwalior owned this diamond in the 13th century.
It was mounted on the Peacock Throne at the command of Shah Jahan. Later Aurangazeb took it to Badshahi Mosque in Lahore. It got robbed by Nadir Shah who took it to Persia.
The diamond returned to India when Shuja Shah Durrani, a ruler of Afghanistan, made a deal in exchange of aid in winning back the Afghan Throne.
In 1851 Queen Victoria got her hands on this diamond, at that time 186 carats. The crown of Kohinoor is worn by female rulers as it is claimed that there is a curse on the diamond which poses a life threat to males who don it. The diamond is still in possession of the British Government.