Indian woman continues fight to repatriate blue diamond

Lalita Shinde, a member of the trust that is in charge of managing operations at the Trimbakeshwar temple in northwestern India, approached her country’s National Archives this week and presented a memorandum demanding the repatriation of the blue Nassak diamond, which reportedly once graced the crown of Lord Shiva idol.

The trustee has been in this quest for a few years now. According to local media, she says that the gem was looted by several rulers some 200 years ago and ended up at a private museum in Lebanon.

Germany's Reich der Kristalle museum replica of the 1820s Rundell and Bridge recut of the Nassak Diamond. Photo from Wikimedia Commons.

Shinde says she has written letters to former President Pranab Mukherjee, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Union minister Sushma Swaraj and the Archaeological Survey of India asking them to do something about the lost jewel. Last year, officials from the latter told her that only diplomatic efforts could return the stone to the temple.

The blue Nassak, also called ‘Eye of Lord Shiva,’ is a 43.38-carat diamond that, in the rough, weighed 89 carats. It was supposedly found in the Amaragiri mine located in the Telangana state and originally cut in India. Different sources of information indicate that the diamond was the adornment in the Trimbakeshwar Shiva Temple from 1500 to 1817. The British East India Company allegedly took the gem during the Third Anglo-Maratha War and sold it to British jewellers Rundell and Bridge in 1818. From that moment on, the rare stone has had different owners but has never returned to its birthplace.

“My demand is that the government should get back the diamond from the Lebanon museum as soon as possible,” Shinde told local journalists.