When the Sikh sun was at peak noon, the empire was bound by Peshawar (North-West), Srinagar (North-East), Amritsar (central), and Multan (south).
When the downfall came it was at the hands of the perfidious Albion. The Sikhs did not dwell much on this humiliation and became (along with the Gurkhas) a pillar of the British Indian Army. Then came Jalian Wala Bag, the hanging of Bhagat Singh, the brutalities of Partition,...… OTOH during the dark days of 1984, it was the BBC Foreign Service (and Mark Tully) which kept the Sikhs within India and outside informed about the true extent of crimes against God and men (and women).
As we understand the (mainly expat) Sikhs still dream of restoring the lost kingdom. The only problem is a corridor to the sea. During the peak revolution days of the 1980s there was a proposal to grab Karachi unbeknownst to patron-in-chief General Zia. Another proposal was to annex Gujarat and establish a corridor via Rajasthan.
The SGPC observed his anniversary at Dewan Manji Sahib hall in the
Golden Temple complex. A religious function was held and prayers were
offered in the memory of Maharaja Ranjit Singh, often described as the
greatest Sikh ruler, whose kingdom stretched from the Sutlej river in
the east to Kabul in Afghanistan.
Besides ‘bhog’ of the ‘Akhand Path’ , ‘hazoori ragis’ of the Golden
Temple performed ‘kirtan’. The religious function was well attended by
devotees and SGPC officials. Giani Balwinder Singh, a ‘granthi’ (priest) of Harminder Sahib
threw light on the mighty Sikh ruler. He recalled the Maharaja’s secular
vision and the respect he accorded to all religions during his reign.
He also recalled the Maharaja’s contributions to the Sikh community
and his role in gold plating and beautification of the Harmandir Sahib
and building several others historic Sikh shrines dedicated to the Sikh
While Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) and Pakistan Sikh
Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (PSGPC) will observe death anniversary of
Maharaja Ranjit Singh on Sunday, monuments related to him in Amritsar –
Burj Vaniake, where the ruler used to stay and even hold his durbar, and
Pul Kanjari…, largely
remain neglected by the government. Pul Kanjari has been preserved with
private efforts, but Burj Vaniake’s little fort-like structure is in
dilapidated condition and could cave in any day.
Once a lively
township, Pul Kanjri, about 35km from Amritsar, was built by Maharaja
Ranjit Singh and has a “baradari”, a “baoli” (bathing pool), a temple, a
gurdwara and a mosque. It also houses a tomb called Shah Sikandar ka
Legend has it that Moran….from Makhanpur,
would entertain Maharaja Ranjit Singh with her dances whenever the Sikh
ruler would stay at the “baradari”. Once on her way from Lahore, she
lost her shoe in the canal, which used to provide irrigation water to
the king’s orchards in Shalimar Bagh, Lahore. When Maharaja Ranjit Singh
came to know that his favourite….. was upset after losing her
footwear, he ordered construction of a bridge (pul) across the canal.
Since then, the place is known as Pul Kanjari.