Maharaja Ranjit Singh was the leader of the Sikh Empire – his reign lasted from 1801 to 1839. He was born on 13th November 1780 in Gujranwala, Pakistan and became the “Maharaja of Punjab” at the age of 21.
Maharaja Ranjit Singh is known for uniting the various Sikh factions into one prosperous empire. The empire was protected by a well-trained self-sufficient army which also expanded the Sikh empire considerably.
Maharaja Ranjit Singh’s most lasting legacy was the restoration and expansion of the Harmandir Sahib, the most revered Gurudwara of the Sikhs, which is now known popularly as the “Golden Temple”.
Much of the present decoration at the Harmandir Sahib, in the form of gilding and marblework, was introduced under the patronage of Ranjit Singh, who also sponsored protective walls and water supply systems to strengthen security and operations related to the temple.
He also directed the construction of two of the most sacred Sikh temples, being the birthplace and place of assassination of Guru Gobind Singh – Takht Sri Patna Sahib and Takht Sri Hazur Sahib, respectively – whom he much admired.
Ranjit Singh, always the astute military campaigner, knew his army needed European-style tactics to keep the British threat at bay. The French officers supplied the perfect solution. Jean-Francois Allard and Jean-Baptiste Ventura became the first of a number of trusted Napoleonic generals in Ranjit Singh’s service.