Ranjit Singh

Orfeas Katsoulis | Apr 3, 2023

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Ranjit Singh (November 13, 1780 (1780-11-13), Gujranwala - June 27, 1839, Lahore) was the first Sikh Maharaja of Punjab (1801-1839) and creator of the independent Sikh state.

Popularly known as Sher-e-Penjab or "The Lion of the Punjab," Ranjit Singh was the founder of the Sikh Empire in northeastern India in the early 19th century. He survived smallpox as an infant and lost the sight in his left eye. He fought his first battle alongside his father at the age of 10. After his father's death, he fought in several wars to expel the Afghans as a teenager and was proclaimed "Maharaja of the Punjab" at age 21. His empire grew in the Punjab region under his leadership until 1839.

Before his ascendancy, the Punjab region had many warring misals (clans), twelve of which were under Sikh rule and one under Muslim rule. Ranjit Singh successfully absorbed and unified the Sikh mishlas and took over other local principalities to create a Sikh empire. He repeatedly defeated invasions by outside armies, especially those coming from Afghanistan, and established friendly relations with the British.

Ranjit Singh's rule led to reforms, modernization, investment in infrastructure and general prosperity. His army and Khalsa government included Sikhs, Hindus, Muslims and Europeans. his legacy includes a period of Sikh cultural and artistic revival, including the restoration of Harmandir Sahib in Amritsar and other major gurdwaras including Takht Sri Patna Sahib, Bihar and Hazur Sahib Nanded, Maharashtra under his patronage.

Maharaja Ranjit Singh was succeeded by his son Maharaja Kharak Singh.

At the end of the 18th century, after the collapse of the Mughal Empire, Punjab was divided and ruled by Sikhs and Afghans. Rajit Singh's father was the head of the Sikh clan (misal) of Sukerchakia. After his death in 1792, Ranjit became the head of the clan. After several military campaigns, all the Sikh Misals recognized him as the Sikh leader, and as a result Punjab became a united Sikh state. On April 12, 1801, Ranjit Singh was crowned Maharaja. His reign is considered a "golden age" in the history of Punjab. Singh's empire was secular; people were appointed to high positions regardless of creed or background (including Europeans, but excluding the British). From 1822, his army was commanded by the Frenchman Jean François Allard.

Early Life

Ranjit Singh was born on November 13, 1780 to Mahi Singh of the Sukerchakia clan and Raj Kaur, daughter of Raja Gajpat Singh of Jind, in Gujranwala, in the Majha Punjab (present-day Pakistan). Several different clans claimed Ranjit Singh as their own. His granddaughters, the daughters of his son Dalip Singh, believed that their true ancestors belonged to the Sandhawal Rajasansi family. Ranjit Singh has been described as "Sansi" in some records, leading some scholars to claim that he belonged to the so-called low caste Sansi tribe. According to other claims, he may have belonged to the Jatam-gothra named Sansi.

Ranjit Singh's name at birth was Buddh Singh, after his ancestor, who was a disciple of Guru Gobind Singh, and whose descendants created the missal of Sukerchakia before Ranjit Singh was born, which became the most powerful of many small Sikh principalities in Northwest India after the collapse of the Mughal Empire. The child's name was changed to Ranjit (literally "victor in battle") by his father to commemorate his army's victory over the Muslim leader Chata Pir Muhammad.

Ranjit Singh contracted smallpox as an infant, which resulted in loss of vision in his left eye and his face was covered with ripples. He was short, never went to school, could not read or write except the Gurmukhi alphabet, but he was taught horseback riding, musketry and other martial arts at home.

At the age of twelve his father died. He then inherited his father's Sukrechakiya clan estates and was raised by his mother, Raj Kaur, who along with Lakhpat Rai also managed the estates . The first attempt on his life was made when he was 13 years old by Hashmat Khan, but Ranjit Singh defeated and killed his assailant. At the age of 18 his mother died and Lakhpat Rai was killed, aided by his mother-in-law from his first marriage.

As a teenager, Ranjit Singh became addicted to alcohol, a habit that intensified in the last decades of his life, according to the chronicles of his court historians and the Europeans who visited him. He did not smoke or eat beef, however, and required all officials in his government, regardless of their religion, to observe these restrictions as part of their employment contract.

Ranjit Singh married many times, in various ceremonies, and had twenty wives . Some scholars note that the record of Ranjit Singh's marriages is unclear, and there is evidence that he had many mistresses. According to Khushwant Singh in an interview with the French magazine Le Voltaire in 1889, his son Dalip (Dulip) Singh remarked, "I am the son of one of my father's forty-six wives.

At the age of 15, Ranjit Singh married his first wife, Mehtab Kaur (c. 1782-1813), the only daughter of Gurbaksh Singh Kanhaiya (1759-1785) and his wife Sada Kaur, granddaughter of Jai Mohan Singh (1712-1793), founder of Misal Kanhaiya . This marriage was preordained in an attempt to reconcile the warring Sikh misals, in which Mahtab Kaur was betrothed to Ranjit Singh. The marriage failed, however, and Mehtab Kaur never forgave the fact that her father had been murdered by Ranjit Singh's father, and she basically lived with her mother after her marriage. The separation became complete when Ranjit Singh married Datar Kaur (? - 1838) in 1798.

His second wife was Datar Kaur (née Raj Kaur), the younger daughter of Sardar Ran Singh Nakai, the third ruler of Misal Nakai, and sister of Sardar Gyan Singh Nakai. Their engagement was arranged by Datar Kaur's older brother, Sardar Bhagwan Singh, in 1784 to gain a political ally. Ranjit Singh, to further strengthen his position, proposed to Nakai chief Sardar Gyan Singh, and the couple married in 1798. In 1801 she became the mother of Ranjit Singh's son and apparent heir, Kharak Singh. Since Raj Kaur was also the name of Ranjit Singh's mother, she took the name Datar Kaur because, according to Punjabi tradition, no one can have the same name as the elders of the family. Datar Kaur was interested in political affairs and is said to have advised her husband in important matters of state. She even accompanied her son Kharak Singh when he was sent on an expedition to Multan in 1818. Throughout her life she remained Ranjit Singh's favorite, and he affectionately called her Mai Nakain. Like his first marriage, his second marriage brought him a strategic military alliance. His second wife died on June 20, 1838.

Ratan Kaur and Daya Kaur were the wives of Sahibaah Singh Bhangi of Gujrat (mishla north of Lahore, not to be confused with Gujarat state). After Sahib Singh's death, Ranjit Singh took them under his patronage in 1811, marrying them in a chadar andazi rite in which a cloth sheet was thrown over each of their heads. In 1819 Ratan Kaur had a son Multana Singh and in 1821 Daya Kaur had two sons, Kashmira Singh and Pashaura Singh.

His other wives included Moran Sarkar in 1802, Chand Kaur in 1815, Lakshmi in 1820, Mehatab Kaur in 1822, Saman Kaur in 1832, and Guddan, Banso, Gulbahar, Gulab, Ram Devi, Rani, Bannat, Har and Danno until his last marriage to Jind Kaur.

Jin Kaur was the last wife of Ranjit Singh. Her father, Manna Singh Aulakh, extolled her virtues to Ranjit Singh, who was worried about the frail health of his only heir, Kharak Singh. The Maharaja married her in 1835, "sending his arrow and sword to her village. On September 6, 1838, she gave birth to Dalip Singh, who became the last Maharaja of the Sikh Empire (1843-1849).

The Punishment of Akal Takhtom

In 1802 Ranjit Singh married Moran Sarkar, a Muslim dancer. This action of his, and other non-Sikh actions of the Maharaja, upset the orthodox Sikhs, including the Nihang order, whose leader Akali Phula Singh was a jathedar in Akal Takht. When Ranjit Singh visited Amritsar, he was summoned to Akal Takht to apologize for his mistakes. Akali Phula Singh took Ranjit Singh to the tamarind tree in front of the Akal Takht and prepared to punish him by flogging. Akali Phula Singh then asked the nearby Sikh pilgrims if they approved of Ranjit Singh's apology. The pilgrims replied Sat Sri Akal, and Ranjit Singh was released and forgiven.


Ranjit Singh had eight sons. His eldest and most beloved was Maharaja Kharak Singh (1801-1840), the eldest by his second wife Datar Kaur.

His first wife Mehtab Kaur gave birth to Ishar Singh (1802-1834) and after her separation from Ranjit Singh gave birth to twin sons Tara Singh (1807-1859) and Sher Singh (1807-1843). Although it was rumored that the children were actually servants in the house of Sad Kaur. Henry Edward Fain, nephew and adjutant-in-chief, India, Gen. Sir Henry Fain, who spent several days in the company of Ranjit Singh, reported: "Although he was reportedly the son of the Maharaja, Sher Singh, his father never fully acknowledged him, although his mother always insisted that he was. Sher's brother, from the same mother, was treated even worse than he was, not allowed to appear in court, and was given no position of benefit or honor." Five Years in India, Volume 1 Henry Edward Fain, London, 1842.

The two widows he took under his patronage and married - gave birth to sons: Multana Singh (1819-1846), Kashmira Singh (1821-1844) and Pashaura Singh (1821-1845). These sons are also said to have been biologically born servants, but purchased by queens and introduced and adopted by Ranjit Singh.

Dalip Singh (1838-1893) was by his last wife, Jind Kaur. Ranjit Singh himself recognized only Kharak Singh and Dalip Singh as his biological sons.


In the 1830s, Ranjit Singh suffered from health complications like a stroke, which some historical chroniclers attribute to alcoholism and liver failure. He died in his sleep on June 27, 1839. Four of his Hindu wives and concubines committed Sati, a voluntary self-immolation at the stake in devotion to Ranjit Singh.

Historical context

After Aurangzeb's death in 1707, the Mughal Empire disintegrated and lost the ability to levy taxes or govern much of the Indian subcontinent. In the northwestern region, especially the Punjab, Guru Gobind Singh's creation of the Sikh Khalsa community accelerated the disintegration and fragmentation of Mughal power in the region. Afghan raids ravaged the Indus River valleys, but met resistance from both the organized armies of the Sikh Khalsa and the irregular Khalsa militias based in the villages. The Sikhs appointed their own zamindars, replacing the former Muslim tax collectors who provided the resources to feed and strengthen the warriors who matched Sikh interests. Meanwhile, colonial traders and the East India Company began operations in India on its east and west coasts.

By the second half of the 18th century the northwestern parts of the Indian subcontinent (now Pakistan and parts of Northern India) were a collection of fourteen small feuding regions. Of the fourteen, twelve were clans (misals) controlled by Sikhs, one named Kasur (near Lahore) was under Muslim control, and one in the southeast was led by an Englishman named George Thomas . This region represented the fertile and productive valleys of five rivers - Jhelum, Chenab, Ravi, Bias, and Sutlej. All the Sikh Missals were under the control of the Khalsa brotherhood of Sikh warriors, but they were not united and constantly feuded with each other over revenue collection, disagreements, and local priorities; however, in case of external invasion, such as by the Muslim armies of Ahmed Shah Abdali from Afghanistan, they usually united to repel aggression.

By the end of the 18th century the five most powerful Misals were the Sikhs of Sukkarchakkiya, Kanhaiya, Nakkais, Ahluwaliaz and Bhangi. Ranjit Singh belonged to the former and through marriage had a secure alliance with the Misals of Kanhaiya and Nakkais . Among the smaller Misals some, such as Misal Phulkias, changed loyalties in the late 18th century and supported the invasion of the Afghan army against their fellow Khalsa. The Muslim-ruled Kasur region had always supported the Afghan invasion forces and joined them in plundering the Sikh Misles during the war.

The Rise to Glory, Early Conquests

Ranjit Singh's fame began in 1797, at the age of 17, when the Afghan Muslim ruler, Zeman Shah of the Abdali dynasty, attempted to annex the Punjab region to his control by sending in a 12,000-strong army under the command of his general Shahanchi Khan . The battle was fought in territory that was part of Misal Ranjit Singh, whose regional knowledge and warrior experience helped him to resist the invading army. This victory brought him recognition. In 1798 the Afghan ruler sent another army, which Ranjit Singh did not resist. He allowed the Afghans to enter Lahore and then blocked all food and supplies and burned all crops and food sources that could support the Afghan army. Most of the Afghan army retreated back into Afghanistan.

In 1799 Ranjit Singh's army of 25,000 Khalsa men, supported by another 25,000 Khalsa, led by his mother-in-law Rani Sada Kaur of Misal Kanhaiya, in a joint operation attacked an area controlled by Bhangi Sikhs, certain around Lahore. The local leaders fled and Lahore became Ranjit Singh's first major conquest . Lahore's Muslim and Hindu population welcomed Ranjit Singh's rule. In 1800, power in the city of Jammu also came under the control of Ranjit Singh.

In 1801 Ranjit Singh proclaimed himself "Maharaja of Punjab" and consented to a formal initiation ceremony conducted by Baba Sahib Singh Bedi, a descendant of Guru Nanak. On the day of his coronation, prayers were offered in mosques, temples and gurudwaras in his territory for his long life. Ranjit Singh called his reign "Sarkar Khalsa" and his court "Darbar Khalsa. He ordered new coins to be issued in the name of Guru Nanak, called "Nanakshahi" ("Emperor Nanak").

Expansion of possessions

In 1802, 22-year-old Ranjit Singh took Amritsar in the Bhangi Misal, paid tribute to the Harmandir Sahib temple, previously attacked and desecrated by the invading Afghan army, and announced that he would repair and rebuild it in marble and gold.

On January 1, 1806, Ranjit Singh signed a treaty with British officials of the East India Company in which he agreed that his Sikh forces would not attack lands south of the Sutlej River, and the Company agreed that it would not attempt a military crossing of the Sutlej River into Sikh territory.

In 1807 Ranjit Singh's forces attacked the Muslim Missal of Kasur and after a month of fierce fighting at the Battle of Kasur defeated the Afghan chief Qutb-ud-Din, thus expanding his empire northwestward into Afghanistan. He took Multan in 1818, and after this conquest the whole of Bari Doab came under his rule. In 1819 he successfully defeated the Afghan Sunni Muslim rulers and annexed Srinagar and Kashmir, extending his rule to the north and the Jhelum Valley beyond the foothills of the Himalayas.

The most significant clashes between the Sikhs under the command of the Maharaja and the Afghans occurred in 1813, 1823, 1834, and 1837. In 1813 General Ranjit Singh Dewan Mokham Chand led the Sikh forces against the Afghan forces of Shah Mahmud led by Dost Mohammad Khan. In this battle the Afghans lost their fortress at Attock.

In 1813-1814, Ranjit Singh's first attempt to enter Kashmir was thwarted by Afghan troops led by General Azim Khan because of heavy rain, the spread of cholera, and a poor supply of food for his troops.

In 1818, Darbar forces led by Misr Devan Chand occupied Multan, killing Muzaffar Khan and defeating his troops, resulting in the end of Afghan influence in the Punjab.

In July 1818 an army from Punjab defeated Jabbar Khan, the younger brother of Kashmir's governor Azim Khan, and acquired Kashmir along with an annual revenue of 70 lakhs. Dewan Moti Ram was appointed governor of Kashmir.

In November 1819, Dost-Mohammed recognized the supreme authority of the Sikh Maharaja over Peshawar, together with the payment of an income of one lakh per annum. The Maharaja specifically ordered his troops not to harass or plunder the civilian population. In 1820 and 1821 Dera Ghazi Khan, Hazara and Mankera with vast tracts of land between Jhelum and Indus, Singh Sagar Daob were also annexed. The victories in Kashmir, Peshawar and Multan were marked by the names of three newborns, Prince Kashmir Singh, Peshaur Singh and Multan Singh, sons of Daya Kaur and Ratan Kaur, wives of Ranjit Singh.

In 1823, the Yusufzai Pashtuns fought Ranjit Singh's army north of the Kabul River.

In 1834 Mohammad Azim Khan again moved toward Peshawar with an army of 25,000 men from the Khattak and Yasufzai tribes in the name of jihad to fight the infidels. Maharaja defeated the enemy. Yar Mohammad was pardoned and re-invested as governor of Peshawar with an annual income of one lakh ten thousand rupees for Lahore Darbar.

In 1837 the Battle of Jamrud was the last confrontation between the Sikhs and the Afghans led by him, which demonstrated the extent of the western borders of the Sikh empire.

On November 25, 1838, two of the most powerful armies in the Indian subcontinent assembled in a grand review at Ferozepore as Ranjit Singh, the Maharajah of Punjab, for a joint campaign with the Sipai troops of the East India Company and the British troops in India on Afghanistan. In 1838 he signed a treaty with the British viceroy, Lord Oakland, to restore Shah Shoja to the Afghan throne in Kabul. In fulfillment of this agreement, the British army from the Indus entered Afghanistan from the south, and Ranjit Singh's troops marched through the Khyber Passage and took part in the victory parade in Kabul.

Geography of the Sikh Empire

The Sikh empire, also known as the Sikh Raj and Sarkar a Khalsa, was located in the Punjab region, the name of which means "land of five rivers. The five rivers are Beas, Ravi, Sutlej, Chenab and Jhelum, all of which are tributaries of the Indus River.

The geographical scope of the Sikh empire under Singh included all lands north of the Sutlej River and south of the high valleys of the northwestern Himalayas. Major cities at that time included Srinagar, Attock, Peshawar, Bannu, Rawalpindi, Jammu, Gujrat, Sialkot, Kangra, Amritsar, Lahore and Multan.


Maharaja Ranjit Singh allowed men of different religions and races to serve in his army and government in various leadership positions. His army included several Europeans, such as Jean-François Allard, but he did not employ the British, who were trying to establish a colony in the Indian subcontinent. Although he did not use them, he maintained a diplomatic channel with the British. In 1828 the Maharaja sent gifts to King George IV of Great Britain, and in 1831 he sent a mission to Simla to meet with British Governor General William Bentinck, and in 1838 he cooperated with them in removing a hostile sultan in Afghanistan.

Religious Policy

Like many Punjabis of his time, Ranjit Singh was a secular ruler. His policies were based on respect for all communities, Hindus, Sikhs and Muslims. A devoted Sikh, Ranjit Singh restored and built historic Sikh gurdwaras - most famously, the Harmandir Sahib - and used it to celebrate his victories by giving thanks in Harmandar. He also joined the Hindus in their temples, forbade the slaughter of cows out of respect for Hindu sentiments, and visited Sufi mosques and holy places. He ordered his soldiers not to rob or harass civilians.

He built several gurdwaras, Hindu temples and even mosques, particularly the Mai Moran Masjid which he built for his beloved Muslim wife Moran Sarkar . The Sikhs, led by Ranjit Singh, never razed enemy-owned places of worship to the ground. However, he converted Muslim mosques for other purposes. For example, Ranjit Singh's army desecrated the Badshahi Mosque in Lahore and turned it into an ammunition depot. The Moti Masjid (Pearl Mosque) in Lahore was converted by the Sikh army into the Moti Mandir (Pearl Temple), and the Sonehri Mosque was converted into the Sikh Gurdwara, but at the request of Sufi Faqir (Satar Shah Bukhari), Ranjit Singh restored the latter back into a mosque. The Begum Shahi Mosque in Lahore was also used as a gunpowder factory, for which it was nicknamed the Baroudhana Wali Masjid, or "Gunpowder Mosque."

Ranjit Singh's sovereignty was recognized by Afghan and Punjabi Muslims who fought under his banner against the Afghan forces of Nadir Shah and later Azim Khan. His court was ecumenical in composition: his prime minister, Dian Singh, was a Dogra; his foreign minister, Fakir Azizuddin, was a Muslim; and his finance minister, Dina Nath, was a Brahmin. Artillery commanders such as Mian Gausa were also Muslims. There were no forced conversions in his time. His wives Bibi Mohran, Gilbahar Begum kept their faith, as did his Hindu wives.

Halsa's Army

The army under Ranjit Singh's command was not limited to the Sikh community. The soldiers and officers included Sikhs, but there were also Hindus, Muslims, and Europeans. Hindu Brahmins and people of all faiths and castes served in his army, while the composition of his government also reflected religious diversity. His army included Polish, Russian, Spanish, Prussian, and French officers . In 1835, when his relations with the British improved, he hired a British officer named Foulkes.

However, Khalsa Ranjit Singh's army mirrored the population of the region, and as he increased his army, he dramatically increased the number of Rajputs and Jat Sikhs, who became the predominant members of his army. In the Doab area his army consisted of Jat Sikhs, in Jammu and in the hills of northern India it was Hindu Rajputs, while relatively more Muslims served his army in the Jhelum River area, closer to Afghanistan, than in other major rivers of the Punjab.


Ranjit Singh changed and improved the training and organization of his army. He reorganized responsibility and set standards of logistics efficiency in troop deployment, maneuvering, and marksmanship. He reformed the staff, emphasizing sustained fire rather than cavalry and guerrilla warfare, and improved equipment and methods of warfare. Ranjit Singh's military system combined the best of old and new ideas. He strengthened the infantry and artillery. He paid members of the standing army from the treasury instead of paying the army by the Mughal method with local feudal dues.

While Ranjit Singh reformed in terms of training and equipping his armed forces, he failed to reform the old Mughal feudal system, the jagir. The jagir system of collecting state revenue involved certain individuals with political connections or inheritance who promised tribute (nazarana) to the ruler and thus gained administrative control over certain villages with the right to enforce collection of customs duties, excise taxes and land taxes at inconsistent and subjective rates. from peasants and merchants; they would retain some of the revenue collected and provide the state with the promised tribute. These jagiras maintained an independent armed militia to extort taxes from peasants and merchants, as well as a militia prone to violence. This system of inconsistent taxation with arbitrary extortion by the militia continued the Mughal tradition of mistreatment of peasants and traders throughout the Sikh empire, as evidenced by complaints made to Ranjit Singh by East India Company officials attempting to trade in various parts of the Sikh empire.

According to Sunit Singh's historical records, Ranjit Singh's reforms focused on the military, which would allow new conquests, but not on the tax system to end abuses, or on introducing uniform laws in his state or improving internal trade and empowering peasants and traders. This failure to reform the tax system and the Jagirah-based economy led in part to power struggles and a series of threats, internal divisions among Sikhs, and major assassinations and coups in the Sikh empire in the years immediately following Ranjit Singh's death. A mild annexation of the remnants of the Sikh empire in British India followed, when the colonial authorities offered the Jagirdars better terms and the right to keep the system intact.

Investment in infrastructure

Ranjit Singh made sure that Punjab produced all the weapons, equipment and ammunition his army needed and was self-sufficient. His government invested in infrastructure in the 1800s and then established raw mines, cannon factories, gunpowder and gun factories. Some of these enterprises were state-owned, others were run by private Sikh agents.

However, Ranjit Singh did not make major investments in other infrastructure, such as irrigation canals, to improve land productivity and roads. The prosperity of his Empire, unlike during the Mughal and Sikh wars, was largely due to improved security, reduced violence, open trade routes and greater freedom of commerce.

Relationship with Muslims

Muslim historians of the mid-19th century, such as Shahamat Ali, who personally experienced the Sikh empire, presented a different view of Ranjit Singh's empire and rule. According to Ali, Ranjit Singh's government was oppressive and he was a mean monarch unlike the Mughals. The initial impetus for building the Empire in these accounts claims that Ranjit Singh led to the "insatiable appetite of the Khalsa army for plunder," their desire to "plunder new cities," and to completely eliminate "the Mughal-era revenue intermediaries between peasant farmers and the treasury."

According to Ishtiaq Ahmed, Ranjit Singh's rule led to further persecution of Muslims in Kashmir, extending the earlier selective persecution of Shia and Hindu Muslims by Afghan Sunni Muslim rulers from 1752 to 1819 before Kashmir became part of his Sikh empire. Bikramjit Hasrat describes Ranjit Singh as a "benevolent despot.

Muslim accounts of Ranjit Singh's rule were questioned by Sikh historians of the same era. For example, Ratan Singh Bangu in 1841 wrote that these accounts were not accurate and, according to Ann Murphy, he remarked, "when would a Muslim praise the Sikhs?" In contrast, the colonial-era British military officer Hugh Pierce in 1898 criticized Ranjit Singh's rule as one based on "violence, treachery, and blood." Sohan Setal disagrees with this statement and states that Ranjit Singh urged his army to answer "eye for eye" against the enemy, violence for violence, blood for blood, plunder for plunder.

Reducing the impact

Ranjit Singh made his empire and the Sikhs a strong political force, for which he is deeply admired and revered in Sikhism. After his death the empire failed to establish a solid structure for Sikh government or a stable succession, and the Sikh empire began to decline. The British and Sikh empires fought two Anglo-Sikh wars, the second of which ended Sikh rule.

Clive Dewey argued that the decline of the empire after Singh's death owed much to the economic and tax system based on the jagir that he had inherited from the Mughals and maintained. After his death a struggle for control of the tax spoils began, leading to power struggles between nobles and his family from different wives. This struggle ended in a rapid series of palace coups and assassinations of his descendants and eventually the annexation of the Sikh empire by the British.

Ranjit Singh is remembered for uniting the Sikhs and establishing a flourishing Sikh empire. He is also remembered for his conquests and the creation of a well-trained, self-sufficient Khalsa army to defend the empire. He accumulated a considerable fortune, including the possession of the Koh-i-Noor diamond from Shuja Shah Durrani of Afghanistan, which he left to the Jagannath temple at Puri, Odisha, in 1839.


Perhaps Singh's most enduring legacy was the restoration and expansion of the Harmandir Sahib, the most revered Sikh Gurudwara, now widely known as the Golden Temple. Much of the current decoration of the Harmandir Sahib, in the form of gilding and marble, was introduced under the patronage of Singh, who also sponsored protective walls and a water system to enhance the security and operations associated with the temple. He also supervised the construction of the two most sacred Sikh temples, which are the birthplace and murder site of Guru Gobind Singh - Takhta Sri Patna Sahib and Takhta Sri Hazura Sahib respectively - which he greatly admired.

Memorials and museums

In 1783, Ranjit Singh founded the craft colony of Tatheeras near Amritsar and encouraged skilled metalworkers from Kashmir to settle in Jandiala Guru. In 2014, this traditional craft of brass and copper craftsmanship was inscribed on UNESCO's Intangible Cultural Heritage List. The Punjab government is now working under the Virasat project to revive this craft.

In 2010, a television series called "Maharaja Ranjit Singh" aired on DD National, based on his life, which was produced by Raj Babbar's, Babbar Films Private Limited. He was portrayed by Ajlal Ali Khan. The teenage Ranjit was portrayed by Damanpreet Singh in the series Sher-e-Penjab: Maharaja Ranjit Singh, produced by Contiloe Entertainment in 2017.


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