The Untold Story of India’s Richest Industrialist, Virji Vora, Who Financed the East India Company

One of the richest businessmen in India, Virji Vora was a well-known personality in the economic world of that nation. His significance goes beyond his enormous riches since he is recognized for giving the British vital bailout money at a key juncture in Indian history. Vora’s financial prowess eclipsed even the fortunes of the Mughal rulers, who ruled India at the time and were renowned for their splendor and wealth. Even the great Mughals requested loans from him due to his influence.

From Surat, Gujarat, trader Virji Vora made his mark as one of the richest businesspeople in Indian history. His enormous fortune was so great that he was known to lend money to wealthy people of the day, including the powerful Mughal emperors. Due to his superior financial standing over the Mughals, Vora stood out among the Indian elite. He was among the wealthiest businesspeople of the 16th century, according to historical documents from the British East India Company, with an estimated net worth of $8 million. The British saw Vora as a merchant prince and gave him the title. Vora rose to fame by giving the British important loans, including Rs 25,000 in Mahmudi and an extra Rs 50,000 in Agra.

The East India Company is said to have borrowed Virji Vora a sizeable sum of Rs 2,00,000 from him. Notably, Vora’s influence even extended to the Mughal courts, where he provided financial support to Aurangzeb during his conflict with the Deccan. Instances of Vora’s kindness are mentioned in the reports, such as when he gave Shah Jahan, the Mughal king, four Arab horses. Virji Vora engaged in wholesale business, specialized in the nationwide distribution of diverse goods such spices, ivory, coral, bullion, and opium. He was positioned as a powerful and influential man due to his monopoly in the spice trade and keen market insight. Vora preserved friendly ties with foreign merchants, notably the Mughals, furthering his reputation as a successful businessman.




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