The Rise and Fall of the Mighty Kingdom of Ranjit Singh

Stories of Maharaja Ranjit Singh’s heroics continue to mesmerize generations, even after 178 years of his death.

Khushwant Singh in his two books The Fall of the Kingdom of Punjab and Ranjit Singh: Maharaja of the Punjab draws a fascinating portrait of one of the most powerful ruler of India, the brilliance of his kingdom, and the unfortunate downfall of the Kohinoor that was Punjab.

Here are six instances which capture the rise and fall of the kingdom of Punjab.

After his accession in 1801, Maharajah Ranjit Singh invited talented Muslims and Hindus to join his service and paid assiduous respect to their religious institutions by participating in their festivities.


Besides its riches, Amritsar had sanctity in the eyes of the Sikhs. It was founded by the fourth Guru, Ram Das, and it was here that the fifth Guru, Arjun, had compiled their scripture, the ‘Adi Granth’, and built the temple in the centre of the sacred pool.


Ranjit Singh built his kingdom like a fortress that could not ever be breached.


The English made no secret of their intentions to annex Punjab. Even in his old age, Ranjit Singh tried with all his might to foil the English’s plans.


Ranjit Singh’s choice of successor, Kharak Singh was the least suited of the brothers, having inherited nothing from his illustrious father except his plain looks and bad habits—particularly the love for laudanum and hard liquor.


After the accession of Punjab by the British empire and the subsequent surrender, a veteran soldier remarked ‘Aj Ranjit Singh mar gaya (Today Ranjit Singh has died).’


For more amazing facts of the remarkable Maharajah Ranjit Singh and his empire, read Khushwant Singh’s The Fall of the Kingdom of Punjab and Ranjit Singh: Maharaja of the Punjab. 

The Penguin India Blog

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