The Last Sunset: The Rise and Fall of the Lahore Durbar


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The Last Sunset

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Submit Review Submit Review. Sabar, eds. The most severe punishments were the amputations of noses or ears. With all his rapacity, the Maharaja was not cruel or bloodthirsty; after the capture of a fortress, he treated the vanquished with leniency and kindness, however stout their resistance might have been.

These merit some discussion since they greatly influenced how his court was perceived by foreign eyes and invariably influenced the British stance towards the Sikh Empire after his death. Without exaggeration I must call him the most ugly and unprepossessing man I saw throughout the Punjab. His left eye which is quite closed, disfigures him less than the other, which is always rolling about wide open and is much distorted by disease. The scars of his face form many dark pits on his greyish-brown skin His costume always contributes to increase his ugliness In spite of the paralysis affecting one side, he manages his horse with the utmost ease.

In , the British, desiring to obtain intelligence on the navigability of the Indus as a 54 Henry M. Bailiere , [Page ]. After fighting in the last wars against Napoleon Bonaparte, he travelled widely and was intrigued most by Kashmir and the Punjab where he met Ranjit Singh and wrote extensively on the history, society and geography of Kashmir. The other great love of Ranjit Singh was women and he had a large harem, marrying women of Sikh, Hindu and Muslim faith, despite the opposition of the conservative Akali Takht, the Sikh religious establishment who opposed Sikhs marrying Muslims.

In , he suffered more strokes that paralyzed the right side of his body, confining him to his bed until his death a year later. Weak-willed, he was a hopeless opium addict and beholden to his court favourite, the knavish Chet Singh. Chet Singh foolishly tried to use his influence over the Maharaja to dislodge the Dogras63 whose connections at court were as strong as ever. The deposed Maharaja later poisoned to forestall his return to power. Just a few months into his reign however, the Maharaja was injured by falling masonry from an archway and subsequently died from his wounds.

When Sher Singh, appeared at Lahore to claim his throne, Chand Kaur panicked and shut the city gates to his forces. Finally, conceding her position as hopeless, Chand Kaur69 surrendered the throne to Sher Singh. Nonetheless, the citizens of Lahore took his death as divine punishment for his treatment of his father. They controlled the army and could remove Dogra influence at court if they wished.

However, Ranjit Singh had still employed his talents as a general in numerous campaigns so he had remained a visible, if inconsequential figure in court politics. They crushed her head with a rock as they groomed her.

The Last Sunset: The Rise and Fall of the Lahore Durbar (Roli Books)

Sher Singh, as former general under Ranjit Singh should have halted this development but as Amarinder Singh points out, due to swirling allegations of him being a bastard and hence illegitimate, he constantly felt insecure. He was also partial to indolence and pleasure, and left matters of government in the hands of the Wazir. The Sandhanwalias now decided to strike back; in September , they assassinated both the Maharaja and Wazir Dhyan Singh.

Facing a complete loss of control over the Khalsa, the Durbar decided on a radical course of action. It came to later refer to the army of the Punjab. They did this to exploit the increased pay, but were nothing more than brigands, according to Gardner. When Hira Singh tried to dictate to the Khalsa, it dispensed of him. He wrote his memoirs, detailing the fall of the Sikh kingdom and discussed the various persons concerned.

The Maharani hypothesized that if, as expected, the army was defeated, the British would restore the court to dominance with Dalip Singh under its protection. On the other hand, if the army somehow triumphed, then her kingdom could potentially be aggrandized by vast new territory up to the gates of Delhi. Broader geopolitical events also played a role.

(PDF) Fall of the Sikh Empire | Navin Kumar - fanifige.tk

The utility of the Punjab as a bulwark against the French had diminished since the defeat of Napoleon in The threat from Persia also faded after their failed siege of Herat in And though British efforts to prop up Shah Shuja as their puppet in Kabul faltered,79 the Afghans were too preoccupied by domestic troubles to foment trouble beyond the Khyber Pass. Ellenborough thus sanctioned an invasion of Afghanistan.

Though Shah Shuja was reinstalled, opposition to the British presence saw the expulsion and massacre of the British troops and their families. Shah Shuja was overthrown and killed in , and Dost Mohammad, who had been exiled to India was permitted to return. London: Duckworth Press, , [Page ]. A veteran of the Peninsula Wars against Napoleon, Hardinge was known to be steady and courageous. His early writings indicate some hesitation on going to war with the Sikhs. The treasury has in it, we hear, not more than two months pay When these means are at an end most of the army will become plunderers and robbers and if we are to arrive at this result I confess I would prefer an abatement of the nuisance at one blow whilst it is an army, rather than be compelled at a later period to have to put it down in the shape of a Pindaree warfare.

Now, he served as the primary turncoat for the British even as he continuously assured the Durbar of his genuine intentions. Gulab Singh realized by now the mutinous Khalsa was beyond redemption and saw working with the British as an opportunity to extract some concessions. He had begun entertaining delusions of creating a viable successor state in the mountains of Kashmir,87 even displaying appetite for expansion when he authorized an invasion of Tibet in The Pindaris were marauding war-bands that proliferated in central India after the British defeat of the Marathas in the 2nd Anglo-Maratha War The suppression of these bandits led to the third and final Anglo-Maratha War that saw the dissolution of the Maratha state for good.

The battle revealed that despite the reputed degeneration of the Khalsa, once in battle, they were still formidable. This trend did not improve at Ferozeshah December , but now British inveigling at the Durbar bore fruit. Fleeing his camp, he destroyed the bridge over the Sutlej, leaving his men trapped between the British and the river.

In the ensuing battle, 10, Sikhs were cut to pieces; Britain and the Company had won the war. The Khalsa was also reduced to a third of its Chinese army in Ladakh. The incident was concluded amicably by the Treaty of Chushul which confirmed the status quo ante bellum. His first act upon taking Lahore was to make an offering at the samadh memorial of Ranjit Singh. Now finally independent of the Sikhs, the Dogra dynasty governed Kashmir till The British also later imposed via the Treaty of Bhyrowal, the right to post a British Resident in Lahore with complete authority to oversee the running of the state.

Dressed as a maid, she escaped British custody for Nepal where the Rana rulers granted her asylum. Nepal was also increasingly under British influence and she was prohibited from travelling from her home. She was finally granted the chance to see her son, Dalip Singh again in and she travelled with him to Britain, dying there in The Government of India has without hesitation resolved that the Punjab can no longer be allowed to exist as a power and must be destroyed. Unwarned by precedents, uninfluenced by example, the Sikh nation has called for war, and on my word they shall have it and with a vengeance!

A fervent imperialist, Dalhousie had been strident in his criticism of the treaty arrangements after the first war. He had little respect for the Sikhs and the Durbar, and he desired nothing more than to finish them off as a political entity for good. He did not see why a person who he had earlier referred to as a child notoriously surreptitious, a brat begotten of a Bhisti, and no more a son of old Runjit Singh than Queen Victoria, should be treated with more than cursory justice.

Guy, R. Thomas, and Gerard J. DeGroot, eds. Lawrence-Archer, Capt. However, this association does not fully capture the complexity of his personality. Ranjit Singh was cautious more often than reckless and avoided antagonizing enemies he was not sure he could defeat. Yet, even as he was ruthless in battle, he governed his multi-ethnic, multi- religious subjects equitably and effectively.


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His successors lacked his foresight and his bravery; pandering to noisome forces, they resorting to scheming to entrench their positions, all failing miserably. Britain saw in Ranjit Singh a reasonable interlocutor, who bore the costs of taming the Afghans; by reducing them to impotency, he served British interests. When these interests were replaced by an uncompromising imperialist ambition in the s however, the Sikh Empire was doomed.

The Last Sunset - The Rise and Fall of the Lahore Durbar

His speeches and writings constantly mention his desire to rectify this. Maharaja Ranjit Singh. New Delhi: Sanjay Printers, Ahmad, Syed Sami. The End of Muslim Rule in India. Karachi, Pakistan: Tru-Prints, Barfield, Thomas. Afghanistan - A Cultural and Political History. Oxford: Princeton University Press, Bhatia, H.

Caroe, Olaf. The Pathans - B. London: St Martin's Press, Cheema, G.

Foreign General of Maharaja Ranjit Singh: Part III

Cook, Hugh. London: Leo Cooper, Dodwell, H. British India. New Delhi: S. Duff, James Grant, Esq.

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A History of the Mahrattas. Guy, Alan J. London: Sutton Publishing Limited, Hallissey, Robert C. London: University of Missouri Press, Research Institute Book Agency, Hernon, Ian. London: Sutton Publishing, Honigberger, J. Thirty Five Years in the East. London: H. Bailiere, Hopkirk, Peter. Tokyo: Kodansha International, Hunter, William Wilson, Sir, ed. Ranjit Singh. Rulers of India. New York: Oxford University Press, James, Lawrence. New York: St Martin's Griffin, Joshi, V. Allahabad: Kitabistan, Keay, John. India: A History. New York: Grove Press, Lawrence, Henry M. Adventures of An Officer in Punjab, Vol.

Lawrence-Archer, J. Commentaries on the Punjab Campaign London: Wm.


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Moon, Penderel, Sir. The British Conquest and Dominion of India. London: Duckworth Press, Panikkar, K. Pearse, Hugh, Major, ed. Soldier and Traveller - Memoirs of Alexander Gardner. Edinburgh: William Blackwood and Sons, Prinsep, Henry T. Calcutta: Military Orphan Press, History of British India under the Company and the Crown.

Oxford: Oxford University Press, Runion, Meredith L. The History of Afghanistan.

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