Maharaja Ranjit Singh was the leader of the Sikh Empire – his reign lasted from 1801 to 1839. He was born on 13th November 1780 in Gujranwala, Pakistan and became the “Maharaja of Punjab” at the age of 21.
Here are fifteen facts about him.
- Ranjit Singh lost sight in his left eye after, as an infant, he contracted smallpox.
- Loss of eyesight and a lack of education, however, didn’t stop him from becoming one of the greatest strategists of his times.
- He was adept in martial arts and was well groomed in the Sikh tradition of fighting.
- He fought his first battle at the age of 10, alongside his father and went on to fight many battles against the Afghans.
- On 12 April 1801 – which was Baisakhi day – Ranjit Singh won the title of ‘Maharaja’ after uniting many fringe Sikh groups into one state.
- Ranjit Singh was a secular leader. His army included talented Hindus, Muslim and European warriors and generals.
- He hired European mercenaries to train his army. His first modern Indian Army was called the Sikh Khalsa Army, which helped prevent the British from colonizing Punjab during his lifetime.
- Ranjit Singh never wore a crown when he sat on his throne since everyone is considered equal before God in Sikhism.
- Ranjit Singh had many wives of Sikh, Muslim, and Hindu faith. Maharani Jindan (Jind Kaur) was his favorite wife who played an important role after his passing.
- He set up historic gurudwaras – Takht Sri Patna Sahib, where the 10th Sikh guru was born, and Takht Sri Hazur Zahib, the place where he died.
- The gold and marble work of the iconic Golden Temple in Amritsar was also done under his patronage.
- The Kohinoor diamond, which is currently in the possession of the Queen of England, was once a part of Ranjit Singh’s treasure.
- Till date, he is known as ‘Sher-e-Punjab’ (‘Lion of Punjab’) for his liberal patronage.
- Ranjit Singh also built ‘Pul Moran’ – Punjab’s own ‘Taj Mahal’ – a memorial that he dedicated to his favourite dancer Moran.
- It was only after his death that the British were able to invade Punjab. Ranjit Singh was a ‘thorn’ that they couldn’t pluck while he was alive.
holiday plans via flickr