You must have probably heard that the Vijayanagara kingdom was such a prosperous kingdom that diamonds and rubies were sold on the street and that they were large in size unlike the ones that we find today. The travelers that arrived from parts of the world have been enchanted by the riches of the kingdom. But where did the diamonds come from? Where did the Vijaynagara Empire hit its jackpot? Where the answer brings us back to Andhra Pradesh, from where the diamond trade flourished during the era of Vijayanagara.
Diamonds have been playing a very important role in the trade relations that several kings kept with Andhra Pradesh. According to the British records parts of Kadapa districts have been key players in mining and trading of the diamonds. The exact location of mining diamonds is in the neighborhood of Chennur, on the bank of river Penner seven or eight miles north of Kadapa. No one has a clear idea on the extent of these diamond finding strata beneath the ground.
The deposit lies about six feet below the surface and these mines are generally in a square shape about four to twelve feet deep. So how will they mine these diamonds? The biggest challenge of mining them is that they are found mixed in lot of other substances and soils found in the earth. The technique developed for mining consists of simply in digging out the rolled pebbles and gravel, and washing them carefully in small square reservoirs rose on top of the mounds. The base of these mounds would be paved with stones. At the foot of the mound there is some space where they collect all the discarded material in heaps. They wash this gravel again and spread them out for further inspection. The inspection usually happens in presence of diamond contractors. The diamonds are found in very wet or moist state but because of their luster which is so unusual, it is easy to identify them.
When India was under the British rule, there were still the native diamond contractors who were mining in this region. So the British government formally lent out these diamonds mines to the native contractors. Previous to the British rule in India these diamonds were carried out for sale in Vijayanagara and Golconda. During those times very large diamonds were found. In area around west of Tadipatri some of the earlier mining of diamonds was done.
Eventually the mines were leased out to the British contractors who use to mine in Kadapa living in Madras. Diamonds were sold, the large ones for the sum of rupees fifty thousand. There were 38 diamond mines in the region of Rayalaseema during the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries and diamonds from which had traveled across the world and were sung of in great accounts of travelers. Other than Kadapa, the diamonds from Guntur and Krishna valley has also played a crucial role. Great wars were fought to gain control of these diamond mines and sadly by 1830, these mines declined. Even now during the rainy season farmers still hunt in the marshes hoping to find a diamond.
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