(Last Updated on : 02/12/2010)
Among the earliest Western travellers, Marco Polo was the one to relate stories about the extraordinary wealth of India. He wrote mesmerizing accounts of how large diamonds were revealed in riverbeds and on mountainsides that were watered by copious rains while journeyed through the country in 1292. His stories were rampant with myths of sinister snakes and vicious eagles, as he had not actually seen the diamond mines, which were supposed to be the guardians of these gems.
Myths to one side, at that time India was beginning to be known as the treasury of diamonds. Over a vast area on the eastern side of the Deccan Plateau, gems of great size and value had been found. This province set in the territory of Golconda, which today covers the area that forms the state of Andhra Pradesh
. In the mines of Golconda India's most legendary and largest diamonds were unearthed. In contrary to popular conviction, the Golconda
mines were not restrained to a small area around Golconda Fort. In fact, as the entire region was rich with diamonds, a bazaar trading in them boomed in the lanes around the fort. This ancient fort town between the Godavari and Krishna rivers lay five miles east of Hyderabad. The large-diamonds were found predominantly in the alluvial deposits of the river Krishna
A Portuguese physician, Garcia da Horta, who visited this region in 1565, left one of the records about diamond mining in Golconda. According to his accounts it is supposed to be revealed that diamonds were extracted from rocks that were then allowed to 'rest' so as to smooth the progress of new diamonds to form within them. This was observably before people discovered that diamonds exist deep within the earth and that there are no diamond-producing rocks.