Tag Archives: Ranjit Singh

Where the land changes its nationality

Killa Jevan Singh, the last village on the Pakistan side of the border

By Haroon Khalid

Having treaded the long stretch of the canal, now acting as the artillery of the city, the BRB, the mother canal comes. Crossing the bridge over it, after a few kilometers, one would come across the village of Manhiala. The next and the last village on the Pakistan side of the border is known as Killa Jevan Singh. As can be inferred from its name, this settlement derives its name from a small fort, perching on the top of a mound, within the village, which also happens to be the highest point around. Easily the top of the edifice stands 15-17 meters above the ground.
I happened to reach the village accidentally, while I was researching for Kos Minars in the surrounding areas. I was of the impression that there were two such minarets in the neighbouring regions but what I did not know was that one of them was in India. Manhiala is the destination of the other one. The distance between these two structures is 1 Continue reading

Temple wrought with stories

by Haroon Khalid

Lahore is ever expanding, mercilessly eating away any village or town that comes in its way. Many towns and villages like Niaz Beg, Hanjarwal, etc, which were historically well outside the city are now deemed as part of Lahore. However, even after being incorporated by the phenomenon that is Lahore, such places have managed to retain their past, culture and identity as something that is different from the city itself, and that is what makes this new city of Lahore so interesting and endearing. Whereas most of these settlements do not predate Lahore and were never historically as significant as Lahore, there was nonetheless one such locality, which is believed to have existed even before Lahore did. Its significance chronologically exceeds that of Lahore. This town is Ichhra.

In the popular culture Lahore’s origin is tied to the Hindu mythologies. There are historians who argue that before the walled city of Lahore became Lahore, Lahore actually was the locality of Ichhra. A very interesting observation is presented to substantiate the thesis. Mostly what we find in the appellations of the doors of a walled city is that the gates are named after the city which they face. The Delhi darwaza of Lahore is named so because it faces Delhi, so is the case with the Kashmiri darwaza. There has been some controversy regarding the name of the Lohari darwaza. It is argued that the Lohari darwaza points towards Ichhra. Lohari could be a primeval name of Lahore in this case, and Ichhra would be that historical city of Lahore. Continue reading

Unexplored heritage

by Haroon Khalid

Many historians believe that original city of Lahore is not the walled city of today but in fact the locality of Ichhra a few kilometres from the area. Various evidences are shown to prove this thesis, one of which is that the oldest Hindu temples exist in the locality.

Right now we would not delve upon the already established evidences but would try to look at new traces that can shed some light on the history of the city. In popular myths and legends it is believed that the city of Lahore originates in antiquity. A popular myth is that this city was founded by one of the twin sons of Sri Ram and Sita, Lahu whereas the other son established the twin city of Kasur. Continue reading

WHEN THE ‘WILD’ PROVED MORE EDUCATED

By Majid Sheikh
Dawn, Sunday, 24 January 2010

When the British conquered Lahore in 1849, Lord Dalhousie, the Governor
General, declared that he would educate the “wild illiterate Punjabis” in a
new system of Anglo-Vernacular education. When they started the East India
Company Board was shocked by what already existed.

The board was amazed to find that the literacy rate in Lahore and its
suburbs was over 80 per cent, and this was qualified by the description that
this 80 per cent comprised of people who could write a letter. Today, in
2010, less than nine per cent can do this, while 38 per cent can sign their
name, and, thus, are officially ‘literate’. If you happen to read Arnold
Woolner’s book ‘History of Indigenous Education in the Punjab ’ you will come
across some amazing facts we today just do not know. To understand the
situation it would interest scholars to go through the ‘A.C. Woolner
Collection in the Punjab University Library. My review is a scant one. But
studying other similar pieces provides a picture of the educational system
as it existed in Lahore in 1849 when the British took over. Continue reading

Merchant collection nets £653,000, necklace at £55,200

Oct. 8: Indian-born producer-director Ismail Merchant’s personal art collection sold for £653,000 at an auction by Christie’s in London.

The highest price was paid for the painting by Hungarian artist August Theodor Schoefft, entitled The Thugs of India halt at the shrine of Ganesh, which was sold for £91,250 to a private British collector. The unusually large painting was estimated to sell for £70,000-100,000. Continue reading

NECKLACE OWNED BY WIFE OF THE LAST SIKH RULER, THE LION OF THE PUNJAB, FOR SALE AT BONHAMS

An important 19TH Century emerald and seed-pearl Necklace from the Lahore Treasury, reputedly worn by Maharani Jindan Kaur wife of Ranjit Singh, the Lion of the Punjab (1780–1839), is for sale in Bonhams next Indian and Islamic sale on 8th October 2009 in New Bond Street.

The necklace has six polished emerald beads, one later converted to a pendant, each bead gold-mounted and fringed with seed-pearl drop tassels, fastened with a gold clasp. It comes with a fitted cloth covered case, the inside of the lid inscribed: “From the Collection of the Court of Lahore formed by HH The Maharajah Runjeet Singh & lastly worn by Her Highness The Late Maharanee Jeddan Kower” It is estimated to sell for £25,000-35,000. Continue reading

Ranjit Singh’s 169th death anniversary

Around 300 Indian Sikh pilgrims will arrive at Wagah Border on a special train today (Saturday) to attend the 169th death anniversary of Maharaja Ranjit Singh.

Maharaja Ranjit Singh belonged to a Jat family and was born in 1780 in Gujranwala. Ranjit Singh succeeded his father at the age of 12. After several war campaigns, his rivals accepted him as their leader and he united the Sikh factions into one large state.

Ranjit Singh took the title of maharaja on April 12, 1801 (coincided with Baisakhi Day). Lahore had been the capital of his empire since 1799.

Ranjit Singh’s samadhi is in Lahore at the Gurdwara Dera Sahib and Sikhs visit Pakistan every year to attend his death anniversary. He fought the Afghans and drove them out of western Punjab, capturing Pakhtoon territory including Peshawar. In 1802, he conquered Amritsar. He was also given the title of Sher-e-Punjab (Lion of the Punjab). He donated wealth and materials to shrines and is remembered with affection by the Punjabis.

Ranjit Singh abolished capital punishment during his rule. He died in 1839 after ruling Punjab for nearly 40 years. He left seven sons, none of whom proved to be a worthy successor.

Courtesy Daily Times

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