Ranjit Singh's Samadhi

Ranjit Singh, the one-eyed Sikh ruler of the Punjab (ruled 1801-1839), considered himself the heir to the Mughal Empire. Among the people, he was known as Sher-e-Punjab (lion of Punjab). He not only followed many of the customs of the Mughal court, he built buildings utilizing elements pilfered from Mughal monuments, and other buildings influenced by Mughal architectural tradition. In all fairness to him, even though he had conquered the citadel of the Mughals, he is said to have never seated himself on the throne in the Fort.

Ranjit Singh's Samadhi (tomb) is located adjacent to the southeastern wall of the Badshahi Mosque. The death of Ranjit Singh heralded a period of intense warfare among his successors and paved the way for the annexation of the Punjab by the British. According to custom, Ranjit Singh's body was placed on a pyre and along with him were burnt alive his 'very handsome' four wives—the four ranees (queens)—seven slave girls, one of whom was a beautiful Kashmiri girl called 'Lotus' or Kanwal. The consuming of the pile took two full days after which the task of separating ashes and bones for storing in separate urns was carried out.

The mausoleum was begun by his son Kharak Singh on the spot where he was cremated, and was completed by Dalip Singh in 1848. The tomb is a splendid example of Sikh architecture, with gilded fluted domes and cupolas and an ornate balustrade round the top. The interior is well detailed, much of the marble elements, it is said, having been appropriated from Mughal monuments—the beautiful marble doorway entrance perhaps belonging to the citadel's Shah Burj. The central marble urn in the form of a lotus on the grave carries the remains of the Maharaja, while marble knobs hold the ashes of 11 women who immolated themselves. Also seen in the chamber are portraits of the Maharaja and the last Sikh ruler, the infant Dulip Singh.

At the same floor level, on the south of Ranjit Singh's Samadhi are located the samadhis of his son Kharrak Singh and his grandson Nau Nehal Singh and their wives. These structures are treated simply and although the architectural style is similar, the grand treatment of the earlier samadhi is no longer in evidence.

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