''Orlov'' famous cursed diamond stolen from Srirangam Ranganathar temple, TN

Orlov diamond stolen from the Srirangam Hindu temple,India. imgarcade.com

Orlov diamond stolen from the Vishnu  temple, Srirangam, India. imgarcade.com

  In  India  it  has  been  part  of the Hindu temple tradition and custom to  adorn  the  idols  of  Gods and  Goddesses  with valuable  gold jewelry  with high  quality  precious stones. Most of the highly valued  old  jewels  were  donated  by kings and Rajas  in the olden days. In  modern times affluent people  do donate  gold, silver, precious stones, coins, jewelry, etc.,  to  the  temple  as  part of  their  prayer and wish.  India  was,  several centuries ago, a world leader in diamond production and  now a few diamond mines are  active  and  their  production  is not  what it used  to be in the past.

The  famous  Orlov Diamond,  one of  the  few most valuable  diamonds  in the world,  once the adorned   the  eyes  of  the  deity  in  the  famous  Hindu temple dedicated to God Vishnu at  Srirangam, Tamil Nadu, India.  The diamond  was stolen  in 1747  by a  French man and an  army  deserter  from the  Angelo-Carnatic  war  that was fought  between  the French  forces  led by  Dupleix and  Nawob Chanda Sahib on one side,  and the British force  on the other side, for the first time led by Robert Clive  of East  India  company. Robert Clive emerged victorious  and got a good name and along with it promotion.


Above image: The Imperial Sceptre of Russia, viewed from straight-on. The Orlov is surrounded  by a row of small Old Mine cut diamonds. The setting around the diamond  is relatively simple and could very likely be replicated, but despite it, it is  sadly unlikely the GIA will ever be able to fully examine the great diamond.  Count Grigorievich Orlov (1723-83), a Russian nobleman and an army officer of great distinction was  wounded  a few times during the various campaigns of the Seven Years War. A man with upright character, he caught the fancy of the Grand Duchess and became her lover.   After  certain palace intrigues and coups, Catherine became the Empress.. .........

Having become a Hindu convert,  the French ex- soldier  regularly  worshipped  Lord Renganathar (Vishnu), the presiding deity of  Srirangam temple, for some time  to gain  the  trust  of  temple priests or Bhattacharyas. Normally,  in all Hindu  temples, non - Hindus are  allowed  up to a certain limit and the Hindus are  allowed up to the entrance  of  the sanctum. Strictly  only  priests - mostly Brahmin priests  are  allowed  into  the sanctum/ Srikovil  (Garbhagriham in Sanskrit) to  perform regular Puja (prayer) which is  a time-consuming  temple ritual. This  custom  has been  in practice  for more than 1500 years. That, how the French man had removed the stone from  God's eye  in a high-security inner shrine,  is still a mystery. 

Orlov diamond sri Renganathar temple, Srirangam. panoramio.com.

After  scheming for some time and  at the  same time gaining the complete  trust  of  the priests at the temple, one day the French man  entered the sanctum  and  stole  only one  stone from  the eye of the deity - Vishnu leaving behind  the other diamond that adorned God's other  eye because  he  was shaken-up  and  afraid  of  retribution. With great difficulty he took  the  stone  to Madras (now Chennai), where he sold it to  the captain of a British  ship for 2000.00 pounds. The priests were answerable  to  the  temple  administrators

Grief stricken  over  the stolen diamond, the temple  priests  cursed....''Whoever owns and wears this God's diamond will  experience untold  misery  and pain  till the world lasts.''  At London, the captain sold it to a trader for 12,000.00 pounds. Time passed and after  a few owners,  the Lord's diamond  reached  the hand  of  a  Russian Count  Gregory Orlov (also Orloff),  an ex-lover of Empress Catherine the Great (previously princess Sophie Augusta).

Idols of God and his consorts. Srirangam temple,India.en.wikipedia.org

The  Count paid 400,000.00 rubles in 1772 (four years before  American  independence) through an Iranian trader. Count Orlov, presented  it to Catherine the Great who had it set in  the imperial Sceptre  where  it remains now. The stone was renamed  as ''Orlov Diamond.'' Count Orlov could not  win  the heart  of the  empress  despite  his romantic  overtures toward her. Disappointed  and terribly depressed, he died in 1783. During the invasion of  Russia by Napoleon, this valuable diamond was hidden  in a  priest's  tomb. It is believed that when a soldier was about to lay his hand on  the diamond, the priest's spirit appeared and scared him of. The French army later abandoned the war and went back. 
Orlov diamond, is  a large  diamond  and  is  part  of  the  collection of  the Diamond  Fund  of  the Moscow Kremlin. It was mined at now defunct  Kollur  mines  near  Guntur in  present day Andhra state (once part of Golconda kingdom). It  weighs 189.62  carats  and is a  bluish  white  stone, one  of  the  impressive Russian

Empress Catherine the great. famousdiamonds.tripod.com

imperial jewel collections, described as having the shape and  proportions of  half a hen's egg. It's past history  and  curse  are not some  one's  figment of imagination.  Nor is it a matter of somebody's conjecture. Empress Catherine too did not lead a peaceful life  in  her later years. 

There  is  also  another  famous  diamond  called 'Black' Orlov diamond  or the  'Eye  Of  Brahma' apparently  stolen  from  a Hindu  temple  in Pondicherry, S. India. Its past history is different from that of  Orlov (Orloff) diamond  stolen  from Srirangam temple. 


This  famous  Sri Ranganathar  temple, dedicated to Lord  Vishnu, is  the largest  one in  India covering  vast  area of 156  acres  and is  also the  largest religious  complexes  in  the  world. Further,  this temple is  listed  as  the  largest  functioning  Hindu temple  in the world. This ancient temple  has been in  existence  since 6th century. The main inner Vimana (tower)  right above  the shrine, where the presiding deity is being worshipped, is  covered with gold  plates  weighing  several kilos.  Almost 100,000 people visit this temple  a month  from all  over India, Asia  and the world. Everyday free food is served  to  a large  number  of  people  on  the temple premises. This temple is a photographer's paradise.