UPSC PRELIMS 2019 : Maharaja Ranjit Singh

Maharaja Ranjit Singh

Topic : Maharaja Ranjit Singh

Topic in Syllabus: Indian History

 

Context:

Maharaja Ranjit Singh

A statue of Ranjit Singh, who ruled Punjab for almost four decades (1801-39), was inaugurated in Lahore

 

Maharaja Ranjit Singh:

  • 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.
  • Maharaja Ranjit Singh is remembered for the possession of the Koh-i-Noor diamond which he left to Jagannath Temple in Odisha and was given to him by Shuja Shah Durrani of Afghanistan.
  • At the time of his death, he was the only sovereign leader left in India, all others having come under the control of the East India Company in some way or the other.

 

Administration Details:

  • The maharaja was known for his just and secular rule; both Hindus and Muslims were given powerful positions in his darbar.
  • 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.
  • He is also credited with funding Hazoor Sahib gurudwara at the final resting place of Guru Gobind Singh in Nanded, Maharashtra.
  • 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 His Honour:

  • In 2016, the town of St Tropez unveiled the maharaja’s bronze statue as a mark of respect.
  • His throne is displayed prominently at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London
  • . Exhibitions on his rule are frequent in western countries home to the Punjabi diaspora.
  • Last year, London hosted an exhibition that focused on the history of the Sikh Empire and the international relations forged by the maharaja

 

Sample Question:

Which river separated the territories of Ranjit Singh and the British?
a) Beas
b) Chenab
c) Ravi
d) Sutlej