RESOURCES OF INDIA

Diamonds have been known longer in this country than in any other, and the most beautiful, famous and many of the largest stones were found here. Ptolemy refers to the diamond river in India; and the fact that diamonds were known to, and highly prized by, the ancient inhabitants of the country is proved by the rich adornment of the oldest temples of religion with this and other precious stones. The sacred shrines and idols show, moreover, that the art of diamond cutting has been long understood. Until the discovery of the Brazilian deposits in 1728, the supply of the whole world was derived almost entirely from the Indian sources, Borneo being at that time the only other known locality.

The occurrences of diamond in India are distributed over an extensive area of the country. C. Ritter in his Erdkunde von Asien (vol. iv, part 2, p. 343, 1836) collected together the various scattered reports concerning the diamond localities, and was the first to give a detailed and connected account. Later (1881), Professor V. Ball has given an exhaustive account, in which he has incorporated all the latest information, in the official Manual of the Geology of India (Prt III. pp.1-50).

That the occurrence of diamonds in India is almost entirely confined to the eastern side of the Deccan plateau is to be gathered from the finds of the present day and from the reports of earlier times. The southern boundary of the region in which diamonds have been found is the river Penner in latitude 14º N.; from this river the diamond localities form a frequently interrupted line running northwards on the east side of the Deccan plateau, crossing the Kistna, Godavari and Mahanadi rivers, and reaching the southern tributaries of the Lower Ganges in Bengal, between the rivers Son and Khan, in latitude 25º N. Any other diamond localities outside the area just marked out are unimportant, and the reports concerning them are often uncertain. In general, many of the reported localities for diamond are doubtful, they’re being no exact and reliable information respecting them, or they are simply based on the existence of old mines.

It is often supposed that all Indian diamond mines are of the greatest antiquity. In many cases the date at which the workings were commenced is not known; but the working of the most important deposits known at the present day does not date back to very remote periods, probably in all cases subsequent to the year 1000 A.D. and sometimes much later. Of a few mines it is known exactly when work began, as will be mentioned below.

Diamonds are found in India in compact sandstones and conglomerates, in the loose, incoherent weathered products of these rocks at places where they lie on the surface, and in the sands and gravels of those rivers and streams which have flowed over the diamantiferous strata or their weathered debris and have washed out the stones from their former situations.

The diamantiferous sandstone of India is of very wide distribution. It belongs to the oldest division of the sedimentary formations of the country, which usually rest directly upon the still older crystalline rocks, such as granite, gneiss, mica-schist, homblende-schist, chlorite-schist, talc-schist, and similar rocks. Fossils have not been found in these sandstones, so that it is not possible to determine exactly to which of the European formations they correspond in age; they may however be safely stated to belong to the Paleozoic period, and possibly to the Silurian division of this period.

The oldest bedded rocks known to Indian geologists are included in the Vindhyan formation. Only the lower division of this formation is represented in the Madras Presidency in southern India, and is there known as the Karnul series. In northern India, for instance in Bundelkhand, these lower beds are overlain by the later beds of the Upper Vindhyan formation. As far as is yet known, the diamantiferous sandstones of the whole of India belong to this Vindhvan formation; but while in the southern diamond districts, and probably also in the districts of the Godavari and Mahanadi rivers, they belong to the lower division, namely, the Karnul series, in northern India, for example in Bundelkhand, they belong to the upper part of the Vindhyan formation.

The Lower Vindhyan formation (namely the Karnul series) consists mainly of limestones with interbedded clay-slates, sandstones, conglomerates, and quartzites. In southern India at the base of this series of beds are beds of sandstone and conglomerates that are known as the Banaganapalli group and here constitute the diamantiferous strata. The whole of the Banaganapalli sandstones are on an average ten to twenty feet thick; they are usually coarse grained, sometimes argillaceous, at other times very compact and siliceous, and in places felspathic and ferruginous; they are dark in colour, being red, grey or brown. The pebbles of the interbedded conglomerates have been derived from the denudation of older rocks, and consist for the most part of quartzite, variously coloured hornstones and jasper, as well as compact clay-slates.

The diamonds are found in an earthy bed containing abundant pebbles; this bed is clearly and definitely marked off from other beds and is not repeated at any other horizon. The diamonds, which may themselves be regarded as pebbles since they also show signs of rounding, lie scattered singly among the other pebbles which are of the same materials as those just mentioned. This earthy bed, in which alone the diamonds are found, is of little thickness; in exceptional cases its thickness is stated to be two and a half feet, but it often measures less than a foot, and rarely exceeds this amount.

In Bundelkhand the diamond-bearing stratum belongs to the middle division of the Upper Vindhvan formation, namely the Rewah group, and is situated at the base of this group in the Panna beds. It is usually a red, ferruginous conglomerate, the pebbles of which consist, as in southern India, of quartz, variously coloured jasper, quartz-schists, sandstone, nodules of limonite, &c. The diamonds appear to bear a close relation to certain sandstone pebbles in this bed.

It is often stated, although perhaps further confirmation of the fact is needed, that in Bundelkhand diamond is sometimes found in fragments of a compact, grayish, siliceous sandstone with a peculiar glassy appearance, embedded in the stone in the same way as are the sand grains of which it is composed. These sandstone pebbles in the conglomerates of the Rewah group have been most probably derived from beds of the Lower Vindhyan formation, which, by their denudation, supplied material for the deposition of the later beds of the Upper Vindhyan formation. Thus the diamonds now found in the Upper Vindhyan formation originally belonged to the Lower Vindhyan, where, in southern India, they are still found. With the denudation of these older rocks the diamonds were set free and again deposited with the material of the younger beds, some remaining embedded in fragments of the original rock, while others became isolated and are now found among the pebbles of the conglomerate.

The diamantiferous sandstones and conglomerates are now elevated, and crop out at the surface of the ground, or are covered by younger strata. Where these strata are not so protected, as when a valley cuts across them, they will be exposed to the action of denuding agents, and will be reduced to soft incoherent sands in which the diamonds lie loosely, the whole constituting a diamantiferous sand.

The diamond-bearing strata, together with the sands derived from them by weathering, are everywhere exposed to the action of streams and rivers, which transport the material to lower levels. The next resting-place of the diamond is therefore the sands and gravels of the riverbed or its alluvial deposits. The most recent of these alluvial deposits lies at the present level of the river; others are found at higher levels on the sides of the valley, having been formed before the valley had been cut down to its present depth. These diamond-bearing alluvial deposits have a close connection with the diamond-bearing beds from which they have been derived. In any district where diamonds occur in the strata they will also be found in the beds of the streams and rivers, although not always in numbers sufficiently great to repay work on a large scale.

The mining of diamonds is at the present day, just as in former times almost entirely in the hands of natives of the lower castes. Attempts on the part of British to work the diamond-bearing deposits on a large scale, and according to modern methods, have never been attended with success. The work in many cases is tedious and difficult, and, moreover, the methods used must be altered to suit the conditions in different localities, which vary considerably. The same methods are for the most part now employed as were in use in the oldest times of which records exist; at any rate, they are identical with those seen and described by Tavernier, the French traveler and dealer in precious stones, in 1665.

The working of the surface layer of sands, that is the loose, weathered product of the sandstone beds, and of the river alluvium, is easy. It consists essentially in removing the larger masses of rock and in washing away the finer earthy material with water. From the sandy residue thus obtained the diamonds are picked out, usually by the women and children of the workers who dig out the gravels.

The working of the sandstone beds is more arduous, and is only attempted where they lie on the surface or at a very small depth beneath it. Where they are overlain by younger beds of any thickness, they are inaccessible to the natives, whose appliances for the sinking of shafts and other ruining operations are few and primitive moreover, in such eases the cost of working would be prohibitive, and the mining of the diamonds can only be effected where the strata crop out on the surface of hill-sides, the workings penetrating to only a very small depth even in these more favorable situations. Where the diamond bearing bed lies at a small depth below the surface, a pit or shaft of a few square feet or yards in section is sunk to meet the desired bed, the shaft being usually about 20 feet, rarely 30 feet, and in a few cases 50 feet in depth. The workings at the bottom of the pit extend only to such distances, as the stability of the material overhead will permit. The diamantiferous rock so obtained is, when necessary, carefully broken up, and the diamonds obtained from it by washing and sorting in the same manner as from the loose sands and gravels.

The excavation of the hard, solid beds of sandstone, which often overlie the diamantiferous stratum, is a matter of no small difficulty to the worker whose tools are inadequate for the purpose. In a few districts the difficulty is somewhat lessened by the employment of a device often made use of by the old German miners. A large fire is kindled on the spot at which it is desired to sink a shaft, and when the rock below is strongly heated, it is suddenly cooled by the application of cold water. This causes the rock to crack in many places, and thus the work of excavation is rendered less arduous. Diamantiferous sandstone, which has been removed from its natural bed, and from which diamonds have been extricated, is often allowed to be exposed to the various atmospheric weathering agencies for sonic time, and is then again worked over, when a further yield of diamonds may be given, this being sometimes repeated several times. This fact has given rise to a belief among the natives that this second crop of diamonds has originated iii the waste rock, or that it is the result of a fusion together of the smaller diamonds originally left behind; similar beliefs are also met with in South Africa. The actual explanation, of course, lies in the fact that during the interval in which the waste rock is exposed to the air, weathering takes place, and any stones which may have been embedded in the larger fragments of rock are thus set free and easily picked out by the searchers. A mass of rock, which has once been worked over, will naturally be the poorer both in the number and the size of the diamonds it contains. In spite of this, however, the refuse heaps from old diamond mines are in many places at the present time being continually turned over and diamonds as continually found.

C. Ritter arranged the Indian diamond mines known to him in five groups, according to their geographical distribution, and described them in order from south to north. In what follow, this grouping will be adopted, the smaller mining districts not mentioned by Ritter being introduced in appropriate places, and information derived from later reports, especially those of V. Ball, incorporated with the matter given by Ritter. Ball gives a rather different grouping of the mines. The map shows the distribution of the diamond-fields in India.

 

1. The Cuddapah Group on the Penner River.

This group includes the most southerly mines; those furthest to the east are in the neighborhood of Cuddapah on the river Penner, where numerous mines have been worked for several centuries with varying success. At the present time the majority of the mines in this group – perhaps, at times, the whole of them – are abandoned, but this by no means indicates that the supply of diamonds has been completely exhausted. The spot at which diamonds have been most abundantly found is Chennur (Chinon), near Cuddapah, on the right or southern bank of the Penner River. Westward of this, that is, up the river and on the same bank, mines are situated at Woblapully (Obalumpally). On the other bank of the river are the mines of Condapetta, referred to by the travellers who formerly visited and described this district, and which probably corresponds to Cunnapurty of the present day. West of Chennur, diamonds have also been found at Lamdur and Pinchetgapadu, and at a few other places, of which Hussanapur (Dupand) may be mentioned as having at the beginning of the nineteenth century yielded many stones. Still higher up the valley of the Penner diamonds were formerly sought at Gandicotta, but with little success.

All these mines are referred to as the Chennur mines. At Chennur itself the abandoned mines are in the Banaganapalli sandstone or in the weathered products of this rock. Many stories, some of very fine quality, have been found here. In two particular cases £5,000 and £3,000 ($556,000 and $334,000) were obtained for single specimens. After a long period of idleness, mining operations were, in 1869, again commenced, but without success. Under the surface soil of this neighborhood is a stratum1 1/2 feet thick of sand and gravel with clay, beneath this a tenacious blue or black clay, 4 feet thick, and underlying all, the diamantiferous layer 2 to 2 1/2 feet in thickness, and differing from the clay above only in that it contains many large pebbles and boulders. The pebbles thus included in the diamantiferous clay consist of various minerals; among others there are yellowish transparent quartz, epidote, red, blue and brown jaspery quartz, round nodules of limonite the size of a hazel-nut, and corundum. The boulders are often the size of a man’s head, and consist of sandstone, basalt, often of hornstone, as well as fragments of felsite (?), a rock of which the hills standing 1000 feet above Cuddapah are constituted.

At Condapetta the mines are from 4 to 12 feet deep. Here there is a bed of earthy sand, 3 to 10 feet thick, resting on a bed of pebbles, which vary in size between that of a nut and that of a cobble, and among which the diamonds are found, usually loose, but sometimes cemented to the pebbles. The latter usually consist of ferruginous sandstone or conglomerate, among these being others of quartz, chert, and jasper, the latter being sometimes blue with red veins; also porphyry containing crystals of feldspar. The greater number of these pebbles have been derived from the surrounding mountains, but some for example, those of porphyry-have been transported by water from greater distances. The mines here, as at Chennur, are only worked in the dry season, since in the rainy season they become filled with water, the removal of which would entail too much labor.

The mines at Woblapully were opened somewhere about the year 1750. The diamonds found here are flat and much worn and rounded, so that they show no definite crystalline form. They are especially hard and have a high luster. In color they are clear white or clear honey-yellow, also cream-colored and grayish-white. They are found in alluvial deposits of varying widths which follow the course of the river, and consist chiefly of much rounded nodules of limonite of about the size of a nut. This district has not been systematically explored, the mines, of which the average depth is 16 feet, are very irregularly scattered about, and have apparently never been of any great importance. Following up the Penner valley and then turning to the north we reach Munimadagu and Wajra Karur, two important diamond localities in the Bellary district.

The first of these, Munimadagu, is sixteen miles west of Banaganapalli and forty-one miles east of Wajra Karur. Here, in a circular area some twenty miles in circumference are a number of mines, which in former times especially during the period between the beginning of last century and the year 1833, supplied the important market, and cutting works of Bellary with the bulk of their material. The systematic working of the mines on the particular diamantiferous bed has, however, now been given up, although a few stones are occasionally still found in the neighborhood. The diamond-bearing stratum is of small thickness and rests upon granite, gneiss and similar rocks.

Wajra Karur is another locality from which a more abundant yield of diamonds was obtained in former times than is the case at the present day. To emphasize the fact that diamonds are still to be found here, we may mention the stone of 67 3/8 carats discovered in 1881, from which was cut a beautiful brilliant of 24 5/8 carats, valued at £12,000 ($1,335,000). Some of the largest and most famous of Indian diamonds are said to have been found here. The occurrence of diamonds at this place is peculiar: they lie loosely scattered about on the surface of the ground, and there is no definite diamond-bearing bed. The rocks at the surface are granite and gneiss, and the diamantiferous Banaganapalli sandstone has not been detected in the district. The diamonds are often washed out of the soil by heavy rains, and are then picked up casually, or the people of the district may make an organized search for them.

In order to explain the peculiar mode of occurrence of diamond at this locality, it has been supposed that in earlier geological times a diamantiferous bed covered a large area in the neighborhood of Wajra Karur, and that this has since been entirely removed by denudation, leaving the diamonds behind as an unalterable residue. Although there is nothing impossible about this view, it is supported by no definite facts.

Later investigators have attempted to explain the mode of occurrence of diamond in this district in other ways. To the west of the town of Wajra Karur a pipe of blue rock, similar in character to volcanic tuff, was found in the granite or gneiss. This closely resembles the richly diamantiferous rock of Kimberley, in South Africa, and was therefore supposed to be the original mother-rock of the Wajra Karur diamonds. An English company with absolutely no success worked this bluish-green, tuffaceous rock, with interspersed blocks of granite and gneiss, on a large scale, not a single diamond having been found.

More recently the French traveler, M. Chaper, who searched the district for diamonds in 1882, has offered another solution of the problem. This explorer found that numerous veins of various igneous rocks penetrate the surface rock lying just beneath the soil, which in the neighborhood of Wajra Karur is gneiss. These veins very frequently consist of a coarse-grained, rose-red or salmon-colored pegmatite containing epidote (pegmatite being a special variety of granite). In the upper, much-weathered portion of such pegmatite veins M. Chaper himself collected two small diamonds, which were accompanied by irregularly bounded grains of blue and red corundum (sapphire and ruby) as well as by other minerals. The two diamond crystals were octahedral in form with perfectly sharp edges, and showed no signs of having been water-worn. Numerous diamonds are said to have been found under the same conditions by the natives. Chaper was convinced that the diamonds he collected had been originally formed in the pegmatite, and had been loosened from it only by the weathering of the matrix. This theory would of course apply equally well to all the other regularly developed crystals of diamond found at the same place.

The Indian geologist, Mr. R. B. Foote, has raised a doubt as to the correctness of Chaper’s observation, and especially of the deduction he drew there from, suggesting that his native attendant deceived the French traveler. A confirmation of Chaper’s statement is much to be desired, since it would be of considerable help in elucidating the general problem connected with the identity of the original mother-rock of Indian diamonds. The original matrix of all Indian diamonds may possibly have been similar in character to the rock in the neighborhood of Wajra Karur, the weathering and breaking down of which has given rise to the sandstones and conglomerates in which the diamonds are now found, but which cannot under any circumstances be regarded as their place of origin. In support of Chaper’s view may be mentioned the fact that diamonds in the lower Penner district are sometimes associated with the minerals which Chaper observed at Wajra Karur – namely, ruby, sapphire, and epidote. Foote meets this argument with the statement that ruby and sapphire have never been found at Wajra Karur except with the two specimens found by Chaper, and these, moreover, he considers show signs of workmanship. Were it further confirmed, the reported occurrence of diamond in pegmatitic rocks, both in Lapland and in Brazil (Serra da Chapada, in the State of Bahia), would afford support to Chaper’s views.

2. The Nandial Group between the Penner and Kistna Rivers.

This group lies near the town of Banaganapalli, and only about seventeen miles north of the last group. It is situated on the northern margin of the plain, which extends from the western slopes of the Nallamalais as far as the town of Nandial (lat. 15º 30′ N., long. 78º 30′ E.). The mines of this group, which are sometimes referred to, for example, by V. Ball, as the Karnul diamond mines, lie to the east, southeast, and west of Nandial, and are partly in the diamantiferous bed itself and partly in the sands. This group, of which a few only of the more important workings can here be mentioned, includes some of the most famous mines ever worked in India, the majority of which, however, are now abandoned.

The mines at Banaganapalli, the village that gives its name to the group of strata containing the diamantiferous sandstone, lie to the northwest of Condapetta and to the southwest of Nandial. According to the observations of Dr. W. King, the sandstones together with the diamond-bearing bed rest unconformably upon the older sedimentary rocks beneath – that is, the lines of bedding of the two series differ in inclination. These older sedimentary beds comprise shales and limestones with interbedded trap-rocks. The diamond-bearing bed and its associated sandstones are from 20 to 30 feet thick. They are penetrated on the hill slopes by pits never exceeding fifteen feet in depth, at the bottom of which the diamond-bearing bed has been removed as far in all directions as the stability of the overlying rock will permit. This bed, which is only from six to eight inches in thickness, is constituted of a coarse sandy or clayey conglomerate or breccia, consisting largely of variously colored fragments of shales and hornstone. Large diamonds have apparently never been found here. The crystalline forms of most common occurrence are those of the octahedron and the rhombic dodecahedron. Workers of the present day confine themselves for the most part to turning over the refuse-heaps of abandoned mines in search of small stones.

The mines of Ramulkota are situated to the northwest of Banaganapalli and about nineteen miles south south west of Karnul. They are in the Banaganapalli sandstone and are worked more deeply and extensively than are those of Chennur, near Cuddapah in the Penner valley. The stones found here are small and not very regular in form; they may be white (colorless), gray, yellow or green in color. The exact output is not known. The mines in the sandstone are not now worked, but the washing of the neighboring diamond-bearing sands is carried on to a small extent. Captain Newbold, who visited this district in 1840, saw only twenty men at work here, but in the dry season the number was said to be increased to 500. The rich and famous mines mentioned by Tavernier under the name Raolconda are probably identical with the mines of Ramulkota; at the time of his visit (1665) these mines had been worked for 200 years and were a source of much wealth. After the working of these mines had ceased, their very situation became completely forgotten; they were at one time supposed to lie five days’ journey west of Golconda, near the junction of the Bhima and Kistna rivers, and eight or nine days’ journey from Visapur (now Bijapur); the researches of V. Ball have now, however, practically established the identity of these mines with the Ramulkota mines of the present day.

 

3. The Ellore (or Golconda) Group on the Kistna River.

The mines of this group are situated on the lower portion of the Kistna River and include some of the oldest and most famous of Indian diamond mines, the largest and most beautiful of Indian stones having been derived from these so-called Golconda mines. They derive their name, not from their situation, but from the fact that the diamonds from these mines were sent to the market held near the old fortress of Golconda, not far from Haidarabad, this being also the market for stones from Chennur. At the time of Tavernier’s visit to these mines, more than twenty were being worked, most of them being extraordinarily rich. With two or three exceptions, the whole were later deserted, and the situations of many of them, including some, which Tavernier described as being most famous, are now forgotten.

The richest of the mines to the east of Golconda were those of Kollur, which lies on the right bank of the Kistna, west of Chintapilly and in latitude 16º 42-1/2′ N. and longitude 80º 5′ E. of Greenwich. This place was referred to by Tavernier under the name Gani Coulour, and now sometimes figures as Gani. This latter is a native word said to signify “mine”, while the word Coulour, from which is derived the now common place-name Kollur, is of Persian origin. These mines are not identical, as has often been supposed, with the also far-famed mines of Partial; the latter, which will be described below, are situated somewhat further east and on the left bank of the Kistna.

The discovery of the diamantiferous deposit at Kollur was made about 100 years before Tavernier’s visit, namely, about 1560. A 25-carat stone was first accidentally found, and numerous others soon followed, many weighing from 10 to 40 carats, and some still more. The quality of the stones, however, was not always as satisfactory as their size, cloudy and impure specimens being frequent. Such famous diamonds as the “Koh-i-noor,” now in the English crown jewels, and the “Great Mogul,” the whereabouts of which, unless it is identical with the ” Koh-i-noor,” is now unknown, were very probably found in these mines, in addition to some beautiful blue stones, including the Hope blue diamond.

Tavernier stated that 60,000 people were engaged in these mines at the time of his visit; today, however, they are completely deserted, as are also numerous other workings situated in the valley of the Kistna, between Kollur and Chintapilly, and between the latter place and Partial. The diamonds here lie in a loose alluvium, which is thus a diamond-sand.

In following the course of the Kistna river, a little beyond where it is joined by the Munyeru river, to the east of Chintapilly, we reach the Partial mines, standing on the left bank of the river. These mines also were formerly very rich and probably yielded the “Pitt” or “Regent” diamond, now in the French crown jewels. The workings, which are here in the loose decomposed mass of the diamantiferous bed and in the river alluvium, have been abandoned for a long period, although the diamantiferous bed is probably not exhausted; in 1850, according to Dr. Walker, only two mines of this group were being worked. Near to Partial, and belonging to the same group, are the old mines of Wustapilly, Codavetty-KalIu, &c.; the latter is said to have been especially rich, there being a legend to the effect that cart-loads of diamonds had been taken away. Here again the diamonds occur in sands, which are now no longer worked.

Still further east, on the left (north) bank of the Kistna, but at some distance from the river, are the Mu1e1i or Malavilly mines, situated between the village of the same name and that of Golapilly, to the north-east of Condapilly, and about six or seven hours’ journey west of Ellore. Here pits fifteen to twenty feet deep are excavated in conglomeratic sandstone or in the surface debris derived from its disintegration. These sandstones rest on gneiss and belong to a somewhat later series of beds than does the Karnul series. The diamantiferous stratum, which according to many observers is overlain by a bed of calcareous travertine, consists mainly of pebbles of sandstone, quartz, jasper, chert, granite, &c., as well as of large fragments of a limestone conglomerate, which show no traces of having been water-worn. All the minerals, which accompany diamond at Cuddapah are also present here, with chalcedony and carnelian in addition. These mines have been worked at least as recently as the year 1830, but the yield has since fallen off and they are now abandoned. In the district in which this group is situated, which lies partly in Haidarabad, the “Hyderabad Company” of English capitalists has acquired working rights. The Company’s total output of diamonds in the year 1891 was 862 3/4 carats, valued at 15,530 rupees ($2,736,100). The annual output of the whole group of mines is at the present time little greater than this, being perhaps about 1000 carats.

To the north of the district just mentioned, diamonds are said to have been found at Bhadrachalam on the Godavari River. Their occurrence here is, however, doubtful, if not mythical, few if any stones having been found; the whole district is little known, and rendered extremely inaccessible by the thickness of the surrounding forests. Much richer and more important, at least in former times, is the fourth group of diamond mines now to be described.

 

4. The Sambalpur Group on the Mahanadi River.

This group is situated a good distance to the northwest of the previous group, and lies between latitude 21º and 22º north, in the Central Provinces. The diamonds known to the ancients may have been those of the Mahanadi River, the diamond river mentioned by Ptolemy being supposed to be in this district, and being, in fact, identified by many authors with the Mahanadi River itself. The occurrence of diamond is limited to the neighborhood of Sambalpur, no other part of the river having given any yield. The mining district extends over a fertile plain, which at the town of Sambalpur stands 451 feet above sea level, and forms the stretch of land between the Mahanadi and Brahmani Rivers. The date of the first discovery of stones here is unknown, but Sambalpur has been a familiar diamond locality since very remote times.

The diamonds are found for the most part in the neighborhood of the confluences of the Mahanadi with some of the tributaries on its left bank. These tributaries, which flow into the river from the north, rise in the Barapahar hills; one of these, which joins the Mahanadi a little above Sambalpur, is the Ebe, and is sometimes considered to be the diamond river of the ancients, but whereas the occurrence of diamonds here has not been proved, there is no doubt as to their occurrence in the Mahanadi valley. In former times the stones were collected in the riverbeds after the rainy season. They were found in the Mahanadi River only on the left bank, never on the right, and not higher up than where the Manda tributary enters the main river at Chandapur; according to some accounts, which however are probably incorrect, the mouth of the Ebe is the furthest up-stream limit to the occurrence of diamonds, and this river is therefore often considered to be the one down which the diamonds were transported into the Mahanadi. The whole diamond-bearing stretch of the Mahanadi is about twenty-eight miles long, being limited eastwards by a bend in the river at Sonpur. One of the most important points on the Mahanadi appears to have been Hira Khund, a name which signifies diamond mine; this is an island about four miles long, which lies near the village of Jhunan and divides the river into two branches. Every year, about the end of March or later, that is, in the dry season when the river is very low, people flocked in thousands to this place to search for diamonds. The branch of the river on the north side of the island was dammed up, and the diamond-bearing sands and gravels of the riverbed dug out and washed for diamonds by the women. The southern branch of the river was never worked for diamonds, although in the opinion of s6me experienced persons, they were there to be found, possibly in greater numbers than in the north branch. The damming-up of the south branch would, however, present greater difficulty since the volume of water here is greater and the current stronger than in the north branch.

Diamonds are found near Sambalpur in a tough, reddish mud containing sand and gravel. This material is probably the weathered product of the rocks of the Barapahar hills brought down by the rivers, which rise there. The solid rock of this region is not, as far as is known, worked for diamonds although it is very similar to the rocks, which in all parts of southern India yield the precious stone. A certain number of diamonds are found in the small streams, which rise in this neighborhood, near Raigrh, Jushpur, and Gangpur.

Large stones are said to have been found in the Mahanadi with some frequency. The largest was found at the island of Hira Khund in 1809 it weighed 210.6 carats, but ranked only as a stone of the third water, and its subsequent history is unknown. Generally speaking the stones found here were very good in quality, the diamonds of the Mahanadi and of Chutia Nagpur ranking amongst the finest and purest of Indian stones. In the Mahanadi, diamonds are associated with pebbles of beryl, topaz, garnet, carnelian, amethyst, and quartz these minerals, however, have probably been derived from the granite and gneiss through which the river flows and not from the mother-rock of the diamond. The Mahanadi yields also a fair amount of good, which is separated from the river sands and gravels by washing at the same time, as are the diamonds.

At the present day, diamonds are found in this district only occasionally systematic work was carried on down to about the year 1850, when, owing to the poorness of the yield, it was discontinued.

The mines of Wairagarh, in the Chanda district of the Central Provinces, may be conveniently described with this group. They are about eighty miles southeast of Nagpur, very ancient, and identical with those mentioned by Tavernier under the name Beiragarh; their identity with those of Vena (Wainganga) is uncertain. The remains of these mines are still to be seen on the Sath River, a tributary of the Kophraguri, itself a tributary of the Wainganga. The mines were formerly rich, but have been abandoned since 1821. The stones lie in a red or yellow, sandy, laterite-like earth, but the rock from which this alluvial material was originally derived is unknown. According to Professor V. Ball, this diamond-bearing stratum has a far wider distribution than is generally supposed, and will perhaps at some future time become of importance.

To the north of the Sambalpur district, in the Chutia Nagpur (the ancient Kokrah) division of Bengal, diamond mines were formerly worked. These mines are said to have yielded in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries many large and fine stones, which are stated to have been obtained from one of the rivers of the district. The identity of this river is not exactly known, but it is supposed to be the Sankh, a tributary on the left side of the Brahmani, also a river in which diamonds have been found but at a later date; even such occasional finds are not now, however, to be made.

In Tavernier’s time some famous mines, which were described by him, existed at Sumelpur, but their exact situation is now not known. According to the account of this traveler, the diamonds were here washed from the sands and gravels of the River Gouel. This river is supposed to be identical with the North Koel River, a tributary of the Son, which in its turn flows into the Ganges, and on the banks of which are the ruins of the ancient town of Semah or Semul, supposed to be identical with Tavernier’s Sumelpur (Semelpur). This town must not be confused with Sambalpur, a town on the Mahanadi River, which has been mentioned above. The stones found in this district were originally derived from the hills forming the watershed of the rivers North Koel and Sankh. Tavernier states that 8000 people were at work in these mines at the time of his visit, in the dry season at the beginning of February. Many other statements respecting the early finds of diamonds in Chutia Nagpur are now regarded as false, having nothing more substantial than fable as their foundation.

5. The Panna Group in Bundelkhand.

This, the most northerly group of Indian diamond mines, is situated between the Khan and Son rivers in latitude 25º N., and lies on the northern margin of the Bundelkhand plateau where this borders the plain of the Ganges and Jumna. Some of the mines lie in the immediate neighborhood of Panna (Punnah), to the south-west of Allahabad on the Ganges, others are further away to the west, south and east of this town; all are classed together as the Panna mines. Large stones are not known to occur in this district nor do any appear to have been found in former times, though the number of smaller diamonds of good quality found now as well as formerly is considerable. The form of the crystals is that of the octahedron or of the rhombic dodecahedron. They occur in the special diamantiferous stratum and in the loose surface material derived from the weathering of the same, and have also been transported with river-gravels. The diamond stratum here belongs, as previously remarked, not to the Lower, but to the Upper Vindhyan formation.

In the neighborhood of Panna, especially to the north and northeast, there are numerous mines; the most important lie close to the town and occupy altogether an area of less than twenty acres. The diamond-bearing stratum is sometimes not more than a span in thickness, and it lies deeper here than at other places where such a stratum is worked, being overlain by a bed of clay of considerable thickness containing pebbles and rock-fragments; these consist usually of sandstone, but at the base of the bed there are numerous fragments of ferruginous laterite. The absence of solid rock above the diamond-bearing stratum makes it impracticable to work the latter for any considerable distance underground; in order to reach this it is therefore necessary to excavate wide and deep pits, measuring about 20 yards across and 10 to 15 yards in depth, a proceeding which involves much labor and time. The diamantiferous stratum consists of a ferruginous clay which contains besides diamonds, fragments of sandstone, quartz, hornstone, red jasper, &c., and deserving of special mention, a green quartz (prase), the abundant occurrence of which is considered a good sign by the diamond seekers. The interior of a diamond mine in this district is illustrated. The soldiers of the native ruler watch the miners at work in the wide pit. On the left of the drawing are seen the baskets in which the excavated material is hauled up to the surface for subsequent treatment; towards the right is represented a series of earthen bowls, arranged as a chain-pump, for removing water from the pit. In the mines of Kainariga, north-east of Panna, the diamond-bearing stratum consists of loose, ferruginous earth; it is overlain by a bed 20 feet thick of the firm and coherent Rewah sandstone interbedded with bands of shale. The solidity of the superimposed rock allows the diamond-bearing stratum to be worked underground from the bottom of the pits for some distance, so that the work is here much lighter than at Panna. There are also several mines at Babalpur, all of which are now abandoned.

At Birjpur, to the east of Kamariga and near to Babalpur, there are mines standing on the right bank of the upper course of the river Baghin. The diamond-bearing stratum differs from that at Kamariga, being firm conglomeratic sandstone, which- crops out at the surface and overlies other sandstones; the mining of diamonds is here, therefore, comparatively easy. At all the mines mentioned above the diamond-bearing stratum it is worked; the workings in the remaining mines of this group are, however, in the various sands and gravels derived from this stratum.

At Majgoha (Maigama), southwest of Panna and the most westerly point of the district occupied by this group of mines, the mode’ of occurrence of the diamonds is peculiar. They lie in a green mud, which is penetrated by veins of calcite and is covered by a thick deposit of calcareous travertine or tufa. This mud is found in a conical depression in the sandstone, about two-thirds of which it fills. This depression is 100 feet deep and 100 yards wide and being cone-shaped diminishes in diameter as its depth below the surface increases; it may possibly be an old diamond mine filled up by the green mud. The miners work to a depth of 50 feet and assert that the mud increases in richness as greater depths are reached. The mine is now apparently abandoned; it is not, however, considered to be exhausted but is reserved for future working.

The mines at Udesna and Sakeriya are of some importance; at the latter place, the diamantiferous gravel is overlain by yellow clay and in part also by laterite. These mines have been worked until recent times, and possibly may not be altogether abandoned even now. At Saya Lachmanpur, fourteen miles from Panna, diamonds are found on the top of Bindachul hill. Finally, we must notice the l6ng stretch of sands iii the valley of the Baghin River below Birjpur. The principal mines are at the lower end of the upper part of the valley, where the pebbly diamantiferous stratum is overlain by about 12 feet of dark brown clayey sand.-At the upper end of the valley are two waterfalls, each with a fall of 100 feet, and at the foot of each diamonds are collected at levels which are respectively 700 and 900 feet below that at which the diamond-bearing stratum occurs in situ.

The Panna mines are at present the most productive diamond mines in India. The profits of the workers are, however, greatly diminished by the heavy tribute exacted by the native princes, to whom the land on which the mines are situated (with the exception of Saya Lachmanpur) belongs. All stones exceeding 6 ratis in weight are appropriated, together with one-fourth of the value of all other stones found. In spite of this exaction, more than three-fourths of the inhabitants of Panna and the surrounding villages obtain their livelihood by searching for diamonds. Owing to the oppressive taxation, dishonesty is rife among the workers, stones being concealed whenever opportunity occurs.

Another place at which diamonds -are said to have been found is Simla, on the lower ranges of the Himalayas and to the north of Delhi, this locality being thus quite removed -from the districts described above~. Here, about 1870, a few diamonds are reported to have been found after a great storm; this occurrence is by no means an established fact, but it agrees with an old Indian tradition that diamonds have been found in the Himalayas.

From the mines of these various diamantiferous districts have been derived the enormous number of diamonds, often of large size and great beauty, which, in the course of centuries, have slowly accumulated in the treasuries of Indian princes or have been used in the gorgeous adornments of idols, sacred shrines, and temples. Up to the tenth century almost all the diamonds discovered remained in the country, and it was not till the invasion and plunder of India by other nations that any portion of these treasures was carried away, first into other eastern countries and subsequently into Europe. The first of these occasions was the invasion by the Persians under Mahmud of Ghazni, at the end of the tenth and the beginning of the eleventh century. The magnificence and number of the diamonds amassed in India at that time is related by Ferishtah, the Persian historian of the rise of the Mohammedan power in India. We learn from his account, which was published in 1609, that Mohammed the first, of the Ghuridem dynasty in Persia, who in 1186 founded the Mohammedan rule in India, left at his death 500 muns (=400 lbs.) of diamonds; all this enormous treasure he had amassed during the thirty-two years of his Indian sway. Europeans became acquainted with the riches of India mainly through the writings of the Italian traveler Marco Polo, who at the end of the thirteenth century spent many years in Central Asia, China, etc. According to C. W. King, the Portuguese writer Garcias ab Horto was the first to publish, in 1565, any authentic account of Indian diamonds. Towards the end of the seventeenth century the French traveler Tavernier made himself intimately acquainted with the occurrence and mining of diamonds in India, and succeeded in actually viewing the wealth of precious stones amassed by the Great Mogul, Aurungzebe. Tavernier, who in the capacity of a merchant in precious stones spent the years between 1665 and 1669 in India, wrote a detailed description of his journeying about the country, which is at the present time of the greatest value.

As commercial relations between Europe and the Orient gradually arose and developed, an increasing number of Indian stones found their way into Europe. The principal Indian market for diamonds, and indeed for all precious stones, was, and still is, Madras. At the time of the annexation of India by Britain, a considerable number of Indian stones found their way into English hands; this was the fate of the most famous and beautiful of Indian diamonds, the “Koh-i-noor” Originally the property of the ruler of Lahore, this diamond passed on the dethronement of this prince into the possession of the East India Company, by whom if was presented in 1850 to Queen Victoria.

DIAMOND IN INDIA

India has now lost all its former fame as a country rich in diamonds; the most productive mines have long ago been exhausted, and only the poorer deposits still remain. During the devastating wars and native struggles for supremacy, many only partially exhausted mines were abandoned and their very sites forgotten, while from the same cause the demand for diamonds fell off. Moreover, the oppressive and unreasonable tribute demanded by native rulers in former times, so crippled the industry that many diamond seekers forsook the mines for more lucrative employments, to return perhaps under more favorable conditions.

The chief blow, however, to the diamond mining industry of India was the discovery of the precious stone in Brazil, a country from which diamonds have been sent to the market since 1728. There could be no competition between these new rich deposits and the Indian mines, whose age can be counted in centuries or even tens of centuries. More recently; the rich yields of the South African diamond-fields have made a profitable mining of the Indian deposits still more impossible. Since in India no new and rich deposits have been discovered to take the place of the old, worked out mines, as has been the case in Brazil, the time cannot be far distant when India must be excluded from the list of diamond-producing countries. It has been thought that the diamond-mining industry of India might revive were mining operations to be in the hands of Europeans instead of in those of the natives. Several attempts have been made in this direction, but up to the present have been attended with but little success. Though the economic, social, and legislative conditions even here are none too favorable for the undertaking and carrying out of systematic work, they are less adverse than in districts under the sway of native rulers, such, for example, as those in which the Golconda and the Panna groups of mines were situated, and which were very inaccessible to Europeans. As the geological structure of the country is worked out and becomes better known, it is possible that new occurrences of the diamantiferous beds may be discovered, though it must be said that at present there is no immediate prospect of such discoveries.

The insignificance of the annual output of Indian diamond-mines has already been commented upon; the proportion of these stones which reaches the European markets is still more insignificant; indeed, it is doubtful whether any appreciable number leave the country at all. This state of affair finds it’s parallel in the times preceding the eleventh century; now, just as then, the stones are kept in the country to satisfy the passion for gems of the great Indian princes and magnates. Another inducement to dealers to keep the stones in the country is the fact that they will frequently make a higher price there than in the European markets, where they must undergo comparison with the treasures of the whole world and where the price is regulated by the inexorable laws of supply and demand. So brisk is the demand for diamonds in the Indian markets that the native supply is barely sufficient, and many foreign stones are imported, especially from the Cape.
There are not many detailed statements of the mineralogical characters of Indian diamonds; a few, however, have been collected and are given below.

It is often stated that the usual crystalline form of Indian diamonds is that of the octahedron, while that of Brazilian crystals is more often the rhombic dodecahedron, the two being often distinguished as the Indian and Brazilian types respectively. This view, however, is not in complete agreement with some recent scientific investigations of stones, which are certainly known to have been found in India. It appears on the contrary that the octahedral form is seldom seen in India, the more characteristic forms being the tetrakis-hexahedron and the hexakis-octahedron. Of fourteen crystals of diamond in the Museum of the Geological Survey of India at Calcutta, which were examined by Mr. F. R. Mallet, nine show a tetrakis-hexahedron alone, two show this form with subordinate faces of the octahedron, two are octahedra in combination with a tetrakis-hexahedron, and one is an octahedron in combination with the rhombic dodecahedron. A tetrakis-hexahedral form is thus present in thirteen of these fourteen crystals and on eleven of them it occurs singly or predominates over other forms; on the other hand, the octahedron is present on five crystals only; and on only three of these does it predominate. Of the fourteen crystals examined, five were from the Karnul district (four tetrakis-hexahedra and one octahedron with tetrakis-hexahedron), one from Sambalpur (tetrakis-hexahedron with octahedron), four from Panna (much distorted tetrakis-hexahedra), the remaining four being said to have come from Simla.

Also of thirty-one Indian diamonds in the mineralogical collection at Dresden only six were octahedra, while octahedral faces are present on only two or three more; the majority show the form of a hexakis-octahedron, and a few also that of the rhombic dodecahedron. The crystalline form of the stones found in different districts, when known, has been mentioned above under the special description of each district. That large diamonds in considerable numbers were formerly found in India has already been stated; a detailed description of the largest and most beautiful is given in a separate pages devoted to the consideration of famous diamonds. The stones found at the present day are usually of small size, so that in this respect also the finds of the present day do not compare favorably with those of earlier times; large stones are, however, occasionally met with, as is shown, for example, by the discovery of a stone weighing 67 3/8 carats at Wajra Karur in 1881.

With respect to the quality of Indian diamonds not many detailed accounts are available. Though reports dealing with single mines may mention the existence of stones of poor quality, yet, as a general rule, Indian stones rank high in the possession of the most desirable qualities. An Indian stone often shows a combination of luster, purity of water, strength of fire, and perfect “blue-whiteness” of color, such as is absent from Brazilian and South African stones. Moreover, India can claim for its own all the finely colored stones of blue, green, and red, not however yellow diamonds, which come mainly from South Africa.

India has now lost all its former fame as a country rich in diamonds; the most productive mines have long ago been exhausted, and only the poorer deposits still remain. During the devastating wars and native struggles for supremacy, many only partially exhausted mines were abandoned and their very sites forgotten, while from the same cause the demand for diamonds fell off. Moreover, the oppressive and unreasonable tribute demanded by native rulers in former times, so crippled the industry that many diamond seekers forsook the mines for more lucrative employments, to return perhaps under more favorable conditions.

The chief blow, however, to the diamond mining industry of India was the discovery of the precious stone in Brazil, a country from which diamonds have been sent to the market since 1728. There could be no competition between these new rich deposits and the Indian mines, whose age can be counted in centuries or even tens of centuries. More recently; the rich yields of the South African diamond-fields have made a profitable mining of the Indian deposits still more impossible. Since in India no new and rich deposits have been discovered to take the place of the old, worked out mines, as has been the case in Brazil, the time cannot be far distant when India must be excluded from the list of diamond-producing countries. It has been thought that the diamond-mining industry of India might revive were mining operations to be in the hands of Europeans instead of in those of the natives. Several attempts have been made in this direction, but up to the present have been attended with but little success. Though the economic, social, and legislative conditions even here are none too favorable for the undertaking and carrying out of systematic work, they are less adverse than in districts under the sway of native rulers, such, for example, as those in which the Golconda and the Panna groups of mines were situated, and which were very inaccessible to Europeans. As the geological structure of the country is worked out and becomes better known, it is possible that new occurrences of the diamantiferous beds may be discovered, though it must be said that at present there is no immediate prospect of such discoveries.

The insignificance of the annual output of Indian diamond-mines has already been commented upon; the proportion of these stones which reaches the European markets is still more insignificant; indeed, it is doubtful whether any appreciable number leave the country at all. This state of affair finds it’s parallel in the times preceding the eleventh century; now, just as then, the stones are kept in the country to satisfy the passion for gems of the great Indian princes and magnates. Another inducement to dealers to keep the stones in the country is the fact that they will frequently make a higher price there than in the European markets, where they must undergo comparison with the treasures of the whole world and where the price is regulated by the inexorable laws of supply and demand. So brisk is the demand for diamonds in the Indian markets that the native supply is barely sufficient, and many foreign stones are imported, especially from the Cape.
There are not many detailed statements of the mineralogical characters of Indian diamonds; a few, however, have been collected and are given below.

It is often stated that the usual crystalline form of Indian diamonds is that of the octahedron, while that of Brazilian crystals is more often the rhombic dodecahedron, the two being often distinguished as the Indian and Brazilian types respectively. This view, however, is not in complete agreement with some recent scientific investigations of stones, which are certainly known to have been found in India. It appears on the contrary that the octahedral form is seldom seen in India, the more characteristic forms being the tetrakis-hexahedron and the hexakis-octahedron. Of fourteen crystals of diamond in the Museum of the Geological Survey of India at Calcutta, which were examined by Mr. F. R. Mallet, nine show a tetrakis-hexahedron alone, two show this form with subordinate faces of the octahedron, two are octahedra in combination with a tetrakis-hexahedron, and one is an octahedron in combination with the rhombic dodecahedron. A tetrakis-hexahedral form is thus present in thirteen of these fourteen crystals and on eleven of them it occurs singly or predominates over other forms; on the other hand, the octahedron is present on five crystals only; and on only three of these does it predominate. Of the fourteen crystals examined, five were from the Karnul district (four tetrakis-hexahedra and one octahedron with tetrakis-hexahedron), one from Sambalpur (tetrakis-hexahedron with octahedron), four from Panna (much distorted tetrakis-hexahedra), the remaining four being said to have come from Simla.

Also of thirty-one Indian diamonds in the mineralogical collection at Dresden only six were octahedra, while octahedral faces are present on only two or three more; the majority show the form of a hexakis-octahedron, and a few also that of the rhombic dodecahedron. The crystalline form of the stones found in different districts, when known, has been mentioned above under the special description of each district. That large diamonds in considerable numbers were formerly found in India has already been stated; a detailed description of the largest and most beautiful is given in a separate pages devoted to the consideration of famous diamonds. The stones found at the present day are usually of small size, so that in this respect also the finds of the present day do not compare favorably with those of earlier times; large stones are, however, occasionally met with, as is shown, for example, by the discovery of a stone weighing 67 3/8 carats at Wajra Karur in 1881.

With respect to the quality of Indian diamonds not many detailed accounts are available. Though reports dealing with single mines may mention the existence of stones of poor quality, yet, as a general rule, Indian stones rank high in the possession of the most desirable qualities. An Indian stone often shows a combination of luster, purity of water, strength of fire, and perfect “blue-whiteness” of color, such as is absent from Brazilian and South African stones. Moreover, India can claim for its own all the finely colored stones of blue, green, and red, not however yellow diamonds, which come mainly from South Africa.

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