Maharaja Ranjit Singh was the mighty leader of the Sikh Empire that lasted for nearly 40 years. Headquartered in Amritsar-Lahore, the Maharaja’s empire spanned from one end of Kashmir to Peshawar on another. Reckoned as one of the most powerful leaders of his time, Singh became the Maharaja of Punjab at the age of 21. He was also known as Sher-e-Punjab.
On this day in the year 1839, he breathed his last. Here are some facts about the legendary ruler as we remember him on his death anniversary:
Ranjit Singh was born on November 13, 1870 in Gujranwala in Punjab – now in Pakistan.
As an infant, he contracted the small pox infection which left him blind in his left eye.
He was a skilled martial artist and well-trained in Sikh tradition of fighting.
As a teenager, Singh fought military battles alongside his father.
He earned accolades for his exemplary display of strength and valour in the war against invading Afghans.
Singh was conferred the title of Maharaja after he had successfully united many fringe Sikh groups that were spread across the region of north-western region under one umbrella.
The Maharaja was an epitome of secularism as his Army included Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs and European Christians.
Even though his Army had manpower from various faiths, Singh was against beef-eating and smoking and the rule was sacrosanct.
Under his rule, several major townships emerged as the centres of trade, arts and commerce. Srinagar, Attock, Peshawar, Bannu, Rawalpindi, Jammu, Gujrat, Sialkot, Kangra, Amritsar, Lahore and Multan were some of the cities under the Maharaja’s Sikh Empire.
The mighty Sikh Empire under his leadership withstood the onslaught of British East India Company in the early 19th century. The Anglo-Sikh wars caused the downfall of the Sikh Empire which paved the way for the formation of British Province of Punjab in 1849.