Treasure plundered by Nadir Shah (1739) from the Mogul Empire

Painting of Nadir Shah.

Mogul period. peacock throne embedded with diamonds. Pinterest

Among the looters of Indian treasures, the invasion of Nadir Shah (1739) dealt a serious blow to the entire edifice of the Mogul Empire which had begun to crumple and later was razed to the ground with the arrival of the East India company in the 1600s.   Delhi  centuries ago had suffered lots of depredations  over the centuries at the hands of invaders, and the worst one was that of  plunder by Nadir Shah in 1739. The raid had a severe impact on the morale of the Mogul dynasty  and after this ignominious defeat  the empire  started to become dissolute and decrepit after the death of Aurangzeb in 1707.

Nadir Shah Tahmāsp Qoli Khan ; 6 August 1698  -19 June 1747), son of a Shepard, was one of the most talented and highly effective Iranian rulers and his reign lasted from 1736 to 1747. Belonging  to the Turcoman Afshar tribe of Khorasan in north-eastern Iran,  he rose to  prominence and power through his military genius and his ability to tackle enemies without losing his fighting spirits. He freed Iran when parts of it were taken over by the Russians, Ottoman and others. Because of his successful exploits in Afghanistan, Shah became a close friend of the young Iranian king. When the boy king died he became the emperor of Iran in late 1730s

The wealth looted by Nadir Shah from the Moguls treasury is as follows:

01. Sixty lakhs of rupees and some thousand gold coins, nearly one crore worth of gold-ware, nearly fifty crores worth of jewels, most of them unrivaled in the world.

02. The entire (70-80 million pounds worth) gem treasure at Delhi, including the celebrated piece Kohinur diamond ( taken away from Kakatia ruler Pratap Rudra II of Warangal, now in Andhra in 1303 by Ala-ud-din Khiliji's general Malik Kafur, huge collections of gems and jewelry, looted from India, now adorn the museums of London and Tehran. 

03.The chests 'filled with gold, silver, diamonds, pearls and emeralds from the Mogul treasury' are now in the Tehran Museum. This has been characterized by a Curator of the Smithsonian Institution as 'perhaps the greatest jewel treasury of all times'.

04. The Persian conqueror invaded Northern India, in 1739, with the sole intention of plundering it's wealth. He defeated the Moghul army at Karnal in February 1739, and took Emperor Muhammad Shah prisoner, and later marched into Delhi on 9th March,1739. The Emperor had nothing in his government treasury; 

05. The  Mogul  coffers were empty and ruler Shah threw open his personal safe of jewels, and Nadir availed himself of all dazzling treasures that he could lay his hands on. 

06. His plunder consisted of all the crown jewels of the Mogul Emperors, which included the Koh-i-Nur, the Taj-e-mah, Akbar Shah diamond, the Shah diamond, the Jehangir diamond etc., and perhaps also the Great Table Diamond, as well as, the renowned peacock throne of  Mogul ruler Shah Jahan, the builder of the Taj. He sacked Delhi and Agra.

07. When Nadir Shaw and his army left Delhi in the first week of May, 1739, this army carried with them a booty estimated at 70 crores (700 million rupees), and this helped him to exempt all Iranians from taxes for the next three years; besides a few thousand Indian girls (both Hindu and Muslim), a large number of boys camels, lots of slaves, thousands of elephants, and horses.

08. All along the route followed by Nadir  from : Kandahar to Ghazni to Kabul to Jalalabad to Jamrud to Peshawar to Attock to Wazirabad to Lahore to Sirhind to Ambala to Azimabad to Karnal and then to Delhi (see map), the merciless invader  committed  massacres, looting and sacking of towns and of the regions in between.

09. The mogul army was literally pulverized. there was nothing but carnage in and around Delhi.   Roughly 20,000 people perished in this massacre. “The streets of Delhi lay littered with corpses for several days. … Timber from the wrecked houses provided fuel for funeral pyres, on which the bodies of Muhammadans and Hindus were burnt…. Many thousands of corpses were collected and thrown into the Jamuna.”

                       Kohinoor diamond.

 Highly embellished peacock throne of Delhi. Internet Stones

 Nadir  left Delhi and its neighboring places to bleed. His invasion was well timed, particularly at a time when the Mogul army became week because of frequent costly wars waged by the early rulers against the  mighty  Marathas of the Deccan and others. The ruler Mohamed Shah was no match for Nadir's army.

In the words of the Tazkira:

"Here and there some opposition was offered, but in most places people were butchered without resistance. The Persians laid violent hands on everything and everybody. For a long time, streets remained strewn with corpses, as the walks of a garden with dead leaves and flowers. The town was reduced to ashes."