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Indian History

Maharaja Ranjit Singh

  • 29 Jun 2019
  • 3 min read

A statue of Maharaja Ranjit Singh, who ruled Punjab for almost four decades (1801-39), was inaugurated in Lahore on the occasion of 180th death anniversary of the legendary Sikh ruler.

Maharaja Ranjit Singh

  • He was born on November 13, 1780 in Gujranwala, now in Pakistan.
  • At that time, Punjab was ruled by powerful chieftains who had divided the territory into Misls (refers to the sovereign states of the Sikh Confederacy, that rose during the 18th century in the Punjab region in the northern part of the Indian subcontinent after the collapse of the Mughal Empire).
    • Ranjit Singh overthrew the warring Misls and established a unified Sikh empire.
  • He was given the title Lion of Punjab (Sher-e-Punjab) for his success in freeing Lahore (his capital) from the Afghan invaders.

Modernization of Army

  • He combined the strong points of the traditional Khalsa army with western advances in warfare to raise Asia’s most powerful indigenous army of that time.
  • He also employed a large number of European officers, especially French, to train his troops.
  • He appointed French General Jean Franquis Allard to modernize his army.

Wide Empire

  • Ranjit Singh’s trans-regional empire (spread over several states) included the former Mughal provinces of Lahore and Multan besides part of Kabul and the entire Peshawar.
  • The boundaries of his state went up to Ladakh — in the northeast, Khyber pass (route the foreign rulers took to invade India) in the northwest, and up to Panjnad in the south where the five rivers of Punjab fell into the Indus.

Legacy

  • The Maharaja was known for his just and secular rule.
    • Both Hindus and Muslims were given powerful positions in his darbar.
  • He turned Harimandir Sahib at Amritsar into the Golden Temple by covering it with gold.
  • He is also credited with funding Hazoor Sahib gurudwara at the final resting place of Guru Gobind Singh in Nanded, Maharashtra.

International Recognition

  • In 2016, the town of St Tropez in France unveiled the maharaja’s bronze statue as a mark of respect.
  • His throne is displayed prominently at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.
  • Last year, London hosted an exhibition that focused on the history of the Sikh Empire and the international relations forged by the Maharaja.
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