10 Priceless  Indian Artefacts In British Museums

By Raza Mehdi

Nov 17, 2022

A beautifully carved statue of Lord Harihara in sandstone was taken from Khajuraho, Madhya Pradesh and displayed at the British Museum, London. The four-armed god is shown holding Shiva’s trident on the left and Vishnu’s conch and discus on the right.

Lord Harihara Idol

Image: Wikipedia Commons

In 1862, a 2.3 metres high and 500kg copper sculpture of Buddha was discovered in Sultanganj, Bihar. It was estimated to be built 1500 years ago and complements the sculpting of the Gupta Empire. The priceless statue is currently kept in the Birmingham museum.

Sultanganj Buddha

Image: Wikipedia Commons

Britain possesses the Indian ruler Tipu Sultan’s swords, ring, perfume and a wooden tiger in different museums. This life-size mechanical toy is a famous wooden carved statue of a tiger attacking a European soldier. Mechanisms inside the tiger emit sounds of grunts from the tiger and wails from the man’s body.

Tipu Sultan’s personal possessions

Image: Wikipedia Commons

The paisley-shaped wine cup was created in 1657 CE and made of white nephrite jade. It belonged to the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan with his title, Sahib-Qiran-e Sani, ‘Second Lord of the Conjunction’ inscribed on it. Victoria and Albert Museum later acquired the cup in London in 1962.

Wine cup of Shah Jahan

Image: Wikipedia Commons

Maharaja Ranjit Singh, the first Maharaja of the Sikh Empire, had a magnificent throne built by goldsmith Hafez Muhammad Multani with gold sheets in 1820. During the Anglo-Sikh war, the throne was moved to London and later transferred to the Victoria and Albert Museum.

Maharaja Ranjit Singh’s Throne

Image: Wikipedia Commons

A carved granite figure of Nandi, the humped bull mount of Shiva, garlanded and decorated with bells, can be found at the British Museum. It originates from the Deccan region of India and dates to the 14th century.


Image: Wikipedia Commons

The Amaravati marbles consist of carved relief panels depicting the life of Buddha and  Buddhist symbols. The Great Shrine was founded around 200 BC and was an important Buddhist site in India. The British excavated it almost 140 years ago and shipped 70 pieces to the UK in 1859 that now sits in the British Museum.

Amaravati Marbles

Image: Wikipedia Commons

This fragmentary relief, found in Amravati, depicts the departure of Prince Siddhartha from his palace at Kapilavastu to start on a spiritual quest that leads him to Buddhahood.

Departure of Prince Siddhartha

The steel blade of this sword is inlaid in gold with a Persian inscription, 'Alamgir padshah 24', meaning it belonged to the Mughal emperor Alamgir or known as Aurangzeb. The number 24 indicates the reign year, 1680. This sword was added to the Victoria and Albert Museum collection in 1964.

Sword of Aurangzeb

This marble statue of the goddess Ambika dates back to around 1034 AD and is famous for its long inscription in Nāgarī script on the base. A British Major found it amid the ruins of the city palace in Dhar in 1875. The statue became part of the British Museum's collection five years after its discovery.

Ambika Statue from Dhar

Image: Wikipedia Commons

During Punjab’s annexation in 1849, the Koh-i-Noor was taken by the British from India and placed among the crown jewels of Queen Victoria. It was the central stone in Queen Elizabeth’s crown in 1937. Today, the diamond is on public display in the Jewel House at the Tower of London.