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Maharaja Ranjit Singh was born
on 13th November 1780 at
Gujranwala in Punjab. His father
Sardar Mahan Singh was a
Chieftain and a Warrior. At a
young age, Maharaja Ranjit Singh
became a Champion Swimmer,
an Expert Horse-Rider and an
Able Swordsman. He was greatly
inspired by the fact that Guru
Gobind Singh ji's two elder sons
had fought the Mughals very
bravely at the tender age of 14
and 17. Maharaja Ranjit Singh led
his first war at the age of 11
years and defeated the army of
the ruler of Gujrat. Later he
fought two severe battles with
the Afghans, with a smaller army
and took over the city of Lahore.
After decades of misrule by
foreign invaders, the people of
Lahore heaved a sigh of relief
when the Maharaja assured the
citizens of safety and good
administration. Under Ranjit
Singh's leadership, the various
Sikh Chiefs were united and on
Baisakhi day of 1801, they
conferred the title of 'MAHARAJA
OF THE PUNJAB" on him. Maharaja
Ranjit Singh systematically
extended the frontiers of Punjab
and brought the regions around
Amritsar, Lahore, Multan, Kashmir
and Peshawar under his rule. He
never became proud or arrogant
despite all the victories won by
him. He was a liberal ruler and
did not bother about the colour,
creed, caste or nationalities of his
employees. He engaged a
number of English, Italian,
German, French and American
Officers. They trained the
Maharaja's Army and improved
its organisation & efficiency.
Maharaja Ranjit Singh's army was
full of men from different faiths
and nationalities, but there was
no jealousy or bickering between
them. His court was
cosmopolitan - consisting of
Hindus, Sikhs, and Muslims, all of
whom loved him dearly. He never
sat on a throne nor did he wear
a crown. He sat on a silver chair
and dressed in a simple and
sober manner. He ruled in a
Democratic manner and never
isolated himself from the masses.
He was a very kind and generous
ruler. He ruled in a truly Secular
and just manner. He allowed
equal rights for all communities
in Punjab. He also encouraged
development of educational
institutions and industries by the
different communities. The
British signed a peace-treaty
with Maharaja Ranjit Singh in
1809, which they broke as soon
as he died. Khalsa kingdom
under Maharaja Ranjit Singh was
the most peaceful time Punjabis
had ever seen. This period of 40
years was Golden era of Punjab.
Muslims, Hindus and Sikh
reaffirmed their Punjabi roots.
several schools were opened,
especially Khalsa schools at
Amritsar and Lahore run by Sikh
academicians, which were open
to all Punjabi population. Ranjit
Singh did not allowed any British
missionaries to open Christian
schools although they were
allowed to preach in Punjab.
Other Sikh kingdoms of Patiala,
Nabha, Jind, Kapurthala and
Faridkot, also accepted British
Christian missionaries. Sikhs
acted as a buffer between
Hindus and Muslims in Punjab.
Ranjit Singh through his
foresight had brought peace and
prosperity in Punjab. Punjabi
Muslims who from centuries had
looked westwards towards
Afghanis and Persians and had
been betrayed by them were
now leading Punjabi armies of
Sarkar Khalsa. Ranjit Singh's
legacy was such that he created
a secular kingdom with equality
for all. In his lifetime, there were
three groups of Individuals
whom he had given power to
pursue different matter of state.
One group of Dogra Hindus
converted to Sikhism, led by
Dhyan Singh Dogra but following
Hindu customs. Ranjit Singh did
not enforced Khalsa code of
conduct on anyone, often his
friends and peers did things to
please him which included
adding Singh to their names,
keeping five symbols of Sikhs,
etc. Dhyan Singh Dogra played a
very strange role in Sikh history.
He originally belonged to Jammu.
He came to Lahore in search of
job and with his hard work and
ability he rose to the top.
Maharaja Ranjit Singh made him
prime minister of Sarkar Khalsa.
Then he also got his brothers
inducted in different
departments in Sarkar Khalsa.
Soon Dogras had all the
administration of state, things
like treasury, finance, etc. Then
the other group was led by
noblemen of Lahore which were
both Muslims and Hindus, leaders
being Azizudin brothers. This
group led departments like
foreign affairs, medicine and
science under Sarkar Khalsa. It is
owed to diplomacy of Faqir
Azizudeen that Ranjit Singh got
Kohinoor diamond from Afghani
king. Third group was comprised
of Sikh noblemen from all over
Punjab, leaders like Dhanna Singh
Malwai, Majhithia brothers,
Sandhawalia brothers,
Ahluwalias, Ramgarhias, Virks of
Sheikhupura, Bajwas of Narowal,
etc. This group was mostly
involve in defense of state, it was
divided into foot soldiers, cavalry,
support troops and Artillery.
Cavalry was all Sikhs while foot
soldiers included mercenaries
hired from all over India. Artillery
was in command of capable
Punjabi leader named Mian
Ghaus Khan. Support troops
were soldiers in charge of
support lines, etc.
This efficient machinery worked
well under Ranjit Singh and
Punjab was on its way to
prosperity. Army was totally
separated from state affairs,
Ranjit Singh had designed and
implemented an ingenious
system for this purpose. Army
democratically elected five
members Panches, they decided
on all the matters vis-à-vis state,
etc. British did not dared
attacked Punjab as long as Ranjit
Singh lived. Ranjit Singh
counterchecked British by hiring
several Frenchmen for his
important defense portfolios.
Ranjit Singh's biggest oversight
was perhaps inability to have
fully prepared one of his sons to
take over his kingdom. When
Ranjit Singh died, Kharak Singh,
his eldest son became Maharaja.
Kharak Singh was 50 years old at
this time. He lacked the down to
earth personality of his father.
Kharak Singh was a heavy opium
eater. He totally neglected state
affairs and got himself immersed
in wine, opium, drinking and
womanizing. At this time Prime
minister was still Dhyan Singh.
His son Naunihal Singh though,
was a favorite with army. He
fought in several battles and was
posted as a governor of North
West Frontier province at this
time. Maharaja Ranjit Singh had
earlier married Naunihal Singh
with daughter of Sardar Sham
Singh Attariwala.
Dogra brothers, Dhyan Singh,
Suchet Singh and Gulab Singh
were in total control of
administration at this time.
Dhyan Singh's son Hira Singh
was also a favorite of Maharaja
Ranjit Singh just like Naunihal
Singh(his own grandson).
Maharaja Had given him a title
"Farzand-e-Khas", or "a special
son". It was rumored that Dhyan
Singh wanted Hira Singh, his son
to become Maharaja of Punjab
and thus he started his
manipulations. Kharak Singh, the
new maharaja did not trusted
Dogra brothers and started
neglecting them. His mentor was
one Chet Singh Bajwa who was
also his childhood teacher.
Kharak Singh started interfering
with affairs concerning state,
which were under the
jurisdiction of Dogra brothers.
Ranjit Singh had earlier looked
after all matters himself and had
only given some liberty to Dogra
brothers while keeping them in
check. Ranjit Singh's ability to not
trust anyone blindly played a
major role in day to day
administration of state affairs.
Most of his courtiers were scared
to do anything wrong.
But during the time of Kharak
Singh, everything was changed.
Dogra suspected that Chet Singh
was responsible for their
removal from state affairs.
Dogras brothers Gulab Singh and
Suchet Singh got together and
decided to remove Chet Singh
Bajwa and then subdue Kharak
Singh. One night when Chet
Singh was sleeping in same
palace where Maharaja Kharak
Singh lived, Suchet Singh Dogra
along with Gulab Singh entered
the palace and hacked Chet Singh
to pieces. Dogra brothers now
changed servants of palace and
administer a slow poison
(mercury) in food to Maharaja
Kharak Singh. His son Naunihal
Singh who suspected treachery
of Dogras did not returned to
Lahore until Maharaja Kharak
Singh died. All this time Dhyan
Singh Dogra was faithful to the
Maharaja Ranjit Singh's family.
Naunihal Singh came back to
Lahore to fulfill his obligation to
cremate the body of his father
Maharaja Kharak Singh and as
well as to become a new
maharaja. Dhyan Singh Dogra
declared Naunihal Singh a new
maharaja. On the same day when
the party was returning from
cremation ground, a large block
of concrete from Archway fell on
top of Naunihal Singh. It is said
that he was not hurt bad and
was able to walk himself but still
Gulab Singh Dogra insisted on
getting a palki. Two days later
Dhyan Singh Dogra declared that
Naunihal Singh had died due to
complications of his injury. Even
Naunihal Singh's mother and
wife were not allowed to meet
him after injury. English doctor
that operated on Naunihal Singh
testified to British author
Macauliffe that initially Naunihal
Singh did got some injury on
head and he applied bandages
but next day when he went to
see ...

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