B.V.S. Bhaskar

Collection includes punch-marked silver coins of the 7th century B.C.


RAJAHMUNDRY: A veteran numismatist in this historic town is seeking a place in the Guinness Book or World Records for the vast treasure of coins in his possession.

His impressive collection of ancient Indian coins include punch-marked silver coins of the seventh century B.C. His efforts that began nearly six decades ago has helped him build a veritable treasure trove of more than 5,000 coins. He has preserved them by following the chronological order, dynasty-wise and country-wise, so much so that some museums may find it difficult to match his efforts.

Popularly known as ‘Nanela Raju’ (King of Coins), Pericharla Suryanarayana Raju, the 74-year old retired Deputy Forest Range Officer of Pitapuram in this East Godavari district, began collecting coins in 1949. “When I was studying in the fourth standard I came across an octagonal coin bearing King George V’s emblem. Since then, the passion has taken the shape of a crusade,” Raju said in an interview. He says that several coins in his collection have been purchased from the Moormarket in Chennai. Having travelled extensively his collection includes coins of the later Magadhan Empire and other empires such as Indo-Greek, Indo Bactrian, Indo-Scythian, Indo-Parthian, Roman, Kushana, Satavahana, Ikshvaku, Taxila, Yaudhya, Ujjain, Sunga of Vidisha, Gupta, Chalukya, Pallava, Pandya, Eastern Ganga, Chola, Hoyasala, Kakatiya, Gajapatis of Orissa, Vijayanagara and Nayakas of Madhura.

He has coins issued by the Turks, Khiljis, Tughlaqs, Lodis and Afghan rulers. There are some rare gold coins of Shivaji weighing 2.2728 grams, Rajahs of Mysore and Asaf Jahis and Nizams of Hyderabad. Mr. Raju claims that he possesses the world’s lightest coin, belonging to Hindu rulers of Nepal who issued it in 1220 A.D.

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