A throne is the dignified seat of a ruler, who is unconstrained by law. The medieval Indian Kings and Sultans of India were known for their pomp and splendour and their thrones were ornately designed with precious materials to exhibit their power and grandeur. However, those exquisite thrones, which once represented the magnificence and glory of the ruler, have become antiques and valuable showpieces today.
The royal throne of the Dogra rulers is made of pure gold and is embedded with golden lions at the corners. The throne, weighing 120 kg, is currently housed in a hexagonal room in the Amar Mahal Palace Museum in Jammu, which can be viewed only through glass covered window panes as the main door is kept locked for obvious reasons.
The golden throne of Maharaja Ranjit Singh of Punjab was crafted by a goldsmith Hafez Muhammad Multani, between 1805 and 1810. The richly ornamented throne is covered in thick sheet gold and the distinctive cusped base is composed of two tiers of lotus petals. In Hindu mythology, the lotus is a sacred symbol of creation and the seat of the Hindu god Lord Brahma. It is also a metaphor of purity in the Sikh scriptures. It is said that, the Maharaja was a very simple man and he rarely sat on this throne, preferring to sit on carpets. After the end of the Second Anglo-Sikh War, Punjab was annexed by the British East India Company in 1849 and the contents of the Sikh treasury, including the throne and the other valuable items were taken by the British. While the other items were auctioned in Lahore, the throne was sent to London to be displayed in the museum of the East India Company in Leadenhall Street. Today, it is exhibited at the Victoria and Albert Museum, formerly known as the South Kensington Museum.
The royal throne of the Kingdom of Mysore is one of the main attractions of the Mysore Palace. The throne, carved out of figwood and decorated with ivory plaques, consists of the steps leading to the seat, the royal seat and a golden umbrella over the seat. The banisters of the steps leading to the royal seat are embellished with female figures. The horses in jumping postures support the royal seat. All the sides of the throne are decorated with creepers. The thorn is adorned with elephants on the east, horses on the south, soldiers on the west and chariots on the north. The covers of the cushions and pillows of the royal seat are studded with precious stones. The Royal seat is adorned by Lord Brahma on the south, Lord Shiva to the north and Lord Vishnu at the centre.
Goddess Chamundeshwari is also present, along with Goddess Lakshmi and Goddess Saraswati on either side, surrounded by ‘asta dikpalakas’, the gods of the eight directions. The Royal umbrella, studded with gems and inscribed with the blessings to the Mysore king, gives shadow to whole royal seat. The top of the royal umbrella contains a celestial bird called Huma, a swan with an emerald gem on its beak. The throne was used by the Vijayanagar kings for more than a century and a half. During the early part of the 17th century the Governor of Vijayanagar rulers at Srirangapatna obtained the throne and in 1609, the governor Srirangaraya gave the throne to Raja Wodeyar, who ascended the throne in 1610. The throne is kept for public viewing only during the Dasara Festival and for the rest of the year the throne is placed in a high security room.
When Chhatrapati Shivaji was crowned as the king of the Marathas in a lavish ceremony at Raigad on 6 June 1674, everybody was amazed by the brilliance of the throne on which he took his seat after the rituals. Elaborately studded with precious stones, his golden throne is said to weigh 1280 tons. Shivaji Maharaj died in 1680, six years after his coronation and was first succeeded by his eldest son Sambhaji. After the tragic death of Sambhaji, his younger brother Rajaram ascended the throne in 1689.During that time, the fort of Raigad was attacked and captured by the Mughal army and Rajaram escaped to south India. Emperor Aurangzeb was quite aware about the wonderful throne and he must have instructed his commander to take possession of the throne as a trophy of war. But, the Mughal army could not find it anywhere. It was not possible for Rajaram to carry the heavy throne, while he was trying to save his life. The golden throne of Shivaji just vanished miraculously.
Commissioned in the early 17th century by Emperor Shah Jahan and located in the majestic Diwan-i-Khas in the Red Fort of Delhi, the Peacock Throne was the famous jeweled throne of the Mughal emperors of India. Large amounts of solid gold, precious stones and pearls were used for the creation of the masterful piece of Mughal workmanship. Even by Golden Age Mughal standards, the throne was supremely extravagant, costing twice as much as the construction of the Taj Mahal. As described by the foreign travelers Tavernier and Francois Bernier, the magnificent throne was supported by six massive feet, said to be of solid gold, sprinkled over with rubies, emeralds, and diamonds. Four bars were fixed upon the four feet, which supported the base of the throne and upon those bars were ranged twelve columns, which sustained the canopy on three sides. The inner side of the canopy was covered with diamonds and pearls, with a fringe of pearls all round, and above the quadrangular-shaped canopy, there was a peacock with elevated tail made of blue sapphires and other coloured precious stones, the body being of gold inlaid with precious stones, having a large ruby in front of the breast.
The original throne was taken away as a war trophy to Persia by Nadir Shah in 1739 and has since been considered as lost.