Tag Archives: Lahore darbar

The rise and fall of courtesans

By Majid Sheikh

THE 50 years of Sikh rule in Punjab (1799-1849), with Lahore as its capital was basically confined to the areas, minus Amritsar, that came to be known as Pakistani Punjab.The seat of power was called the ‘Lahore Darbar’.

During this time, like never before in the history of this land, the role of courtesans rivalled those of Florence and Venice in the Renaissance period. Men in power loved beautiful women. It is a universal, natural and timeless happening just as beautiful women know how to exploit men in power. In Elizabeth the First’s England, handsome men weaved their charm around the queen, giving rise to the best of Shakespeare’s works. It has always worked both ways, for “mutual benefit” as a bankerfriend of mine so aptly puts it.

The all-powerful Maharaja Ranjit Singh loved beautiful women, and soon after he came to power in 1799, he loved to spend his time among such beauties. But he was a man with a sensible head on his shoulders, for he was to describe to a British visitor. Continue reading