A statue of Maharaja Ranjit Singh, who ruled Punjab for almost four decades (1801-39), was inaugurated in Lahore. June 27 is his death anniversary. His legacy endures for Punjabis around the world.
On the departure of Alexander the Great from India in 323 B.C., repeated conflicts on the Indian soil continued to weaken the country. From the Mauryas to the Muslim invaders & to the British, it was the people of the Punjab, who bore the brunt of centuries of invasions, & their rugged character was honed in the increasing clash of arms over the years. Into this bloodied landscape of Punjab, Ranjit Singh, the only son of Mahan Singh Sukerchakia & Raj Kaur, was born on 13 November 1780.
Life and times
Ranjit Singh 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. Ranjit Singh overthrew the warring Misls and established a unified Sikh empire after he conquered Lahore in 1799.
He was given the title Lion of Punjab (Sher-e-Punjab) because he stemmed the tide of Afghan invaders in Lahore, which remained his capital until his death. His general Hari Singh Nalwa built the Fort of Jamrud at the mouth of the Khyber Pass, the route the foreign rulers took to invade India.
1.The maharaja was known for his just and secular rule; both Hindus and Muslims were given powerful positions in his darbar.
2.The Sikhs take pride in him for he turned Harimandir Sahib at Amritsar into the Golden Temple by covering it with gold. Right at the doorstep of the sanctum sanctorum of the temple is a plaque that details how in 1830 AD, the maharaja did sewa over 10 years.
3.He is also credited with funding Hazoor Sahib gurudwara at the final resting place of Guru Gobind Singh in Nanded, Maharashtra.
4.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.
5.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 modernise his army. In 2016, the town of St Tropez unveiled the maharaja’s bronze statue as a mark of respect.
6.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.
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.