Sikh Empire




Sikhs ruled mostly areas of Punjab on both sides (India and Pakistan). They were able to establish a independent Empire under Ranjit Singh in 1799.

               28 Jan 1757 Punjab annexed by Afghanistan.
               07 Apr 1799 The Sikh military organization occupies Lahaur (Lahore).
                      1805 Pañjab (Punjab) state established.
        1816 - 17 Jun 1822 Jammu annexed to the Punjab.
 05 Jul 1819 - 15 Mar 1846 Kashmir annexed to the Punjab.
               09 Mar 1846 British protectorate.
               22 Feb 1849 Sikh ruler deposed.
               08 Apr 1849 Punjab incorporated into British India.
               15 Aug 1947 Partitioned between India (Amritsar) and Pakistan (Lahore).

  • SIKH
  • Ranjit Singh S/o Sardar Mahan Singh......................1799 - 27 Jun 1839
  • Maharaja Ranjit Singh was a Jat from the Punjabi people born in 1780 in the Panjabi town of Gujranwala (now in Pakistan), into the Sandhawalia family. He became the Baron of the Sukerchakia army from 1790 to 1801 after his father, controlling a territory in west Punjab based around his headquarters at Gujranwala. From 1799 to 1801, is considered as transitional period neither Confederacy or Empire, in a state of revolution or anarchy. Sardar Charhat Singh Sukerchakia (died: 1778), Sardar Naudh Singh (died: 1752) and Sardar Bhai Buddh Singh (died: 1716) was grandfather, great-grandfather and great-great-grandfather respectively of Maharaja Ranjit Singh. Ranjit Singh's father Mahan Singh died in 1792. The Sikh Empire was formed on the foundations of Sikh Confederacy by Maharaja Ranjit Singh. Coronation took place at Lahore on 12th Apr 1801 (to coincide with Baisakhi day). For forty years, he dominated Sikh affairs. In 1802 he seized Amrister and followed this by capturing Ludhiana (1806), Multan (1818), Kashmir (1819), Ladakh (1833) and Peshawar (1834). He married (amongst others) firstly, 1796, Rani Mahtab Kaur, born 1780, died 1840, married secondly, 1798, Rani Datar Kaur [Raj Kaur], daughter of Nakai Sardar Khazan Singh, died 1818, married thirdly, 1813, Rani Ratan Kaur, married fourthly, 1835, Maharani Jind Kaur, died 1st August 1863 in London. Ranjit Singh had the following sons.
    • Kunwar Ishwar Singh (by 1st wife), died young.
    • Maharaja Sher Singh (twin son of first wife).
    • Kunwar Tara Singh, born December 1807 (twin son of first wife), died in 1859.
    • Maharaja Kharak Singh (by second wife).
    • Kunwar Multana Singh (by third wife), born in 1819 and died in 1848.
    • Kunwar Kashmira Singh (by Daya Kaur), born in 1821, he was granted the jagir of Sialkot, Got married and had children. He died on 07th May 1844.
    • Kunwar Peshaura Singh (by third wife), born in 1823 and died on 30th August 1845.
    • Maharaja Dhuleep Singh (by fourth wife).
  • Ranjit Singh had By the time of his death in 1839, Ranjit was the only leader in India capable of offering a serious challenge to the East India Company. A treaty concluded in 1809 with the British, confirmed Ranjit Singh as a ruler south of Sutlej, but restricted him from seeking any further expansion to the north or west. British remained suspicious of Ranjit's ultimate intentions. After the death of Ranjit the Sikh empire began to disintegrate as power passed from chief to chief in murderous rivalry. At the same time relationship with the British began to deteriorate. He also called "Sher-e-Punjab" ("The Lion of the Punjab"). He died on 27 Jun 1839 and his samadhi is located in Lahore, Pakistan.
  • Kharak Singh S/o Ranjit Singh.....................27 Jun 1839 - 05 Nov 1840
  • Born on 31 Jan 1802, was a Sikh ruler of the sovereign country of Punjab and the Sikh Empire. He was the eldest legitimate son of Ranjit Singh from his second wife Maharani Datar Kaur. He succeeded his father on 27 June 1839. He married firstly, February 1812, Maharani Chand Kaur, married secondly in 1815, Rani Ishar Kaur (daughter of Lal Singh Sandhu of Sirarivali, in Sialkot district of the Punjab, committed sati 5th November 1840), married thirdly in 1816, Maharani Bibi Khem Kaur Dhillon. It is believed that he was removed from power on 08 October 1839 and replaced by his son Prince Nau Nihal Singh. Kharak Singh became a prisoner and died from a slow poisoning on 05 November 1840.
  • Nau Nihal Singh S/o Kharak Singh..................05 Nov 1840 - 06 Nov 1840
  • Nau Nihal Singh, born on 09 March 1821, was a Sikh ruler of the sovereign country of Punjab and the Sikh Empire for one day. He was the son of Maharaja Kharak Singh. After the death of Ranjit Singh, Kharak Singh became king but was unable to keep control of the various factions within the kingdom. Prince Nau Nihal took control of the state himself. Upon Kharak Singh's death, Nau Nihal Singh was in line to become king. However, whilst returning from his father's funeral, he was injured when a building collapsed upon him. His body was taken to a tent away from the courtiers, who were not allowed into the presence of the prince. Eyewitnesses described his initial injuries as being small blows to the head which knocked him unconscious. Later when the tent was opened Nau Nihal Singh was dead, his head having been smashed in, possibly with a rock. It is unclear whether the building's collapse was accidental or deliberate and who was responsible. The most likely culprits were the Kashmiri Dogra brothers, Gulab Singh and Dhian Singh. Nau Nihal Singh was married to Maharani Sahib Kaur [Bibi Nanaki] and had a son in July 1841.
  • Chand Kaur Kunwar (female, Regent)................17 Nov 1840 - 17 Jan 1841
  • Born in 1802 at Fatehpur, daughter of Sardar Jaimal Singh of the Kanhaiya misl. Proclaimed the Maharani of the Punjab, styled Mai to 02 Dec 1840, then Maharani Malika Maqaddasa (empress immaculate). Chand Kaur was briefly a Regent of the sovereign country of Punjab and the Sikh Empire. She was the wife of Kharak Singh and thus daughter-in-law of Ranjit Singh. She was the mother of Nau Nihal Singh. She remained regent for ~2 & half months, from 17th November 1840 to 18th January 1841, in preparation for Sher Singh's coronation and becoming Maharaja and relinquished her claim to the throne on 17th January 1841. She was pensioned off with a jagir worth 900,000 rupees annually, married in February 1812 with Maharaja Kharak Singh and died on 11th June 1842 and was cremated the next day.
  • Sher Singh S/o Ranjit Singh.......................18 Jan 1841 - 16 Sep 1843
  • Sher Singh, (Born: December 1807 - Died: September 16th 1843) was a Sikh ruler of the sovereign country of Punjab and the Sikh Empire. He was the son of Maharaja Ranjit Singh and Queen Rani Mehtab Kaur who was also the mother of Prince Tara Singh. He became Maharaja in 1841 after the sudden death of Nau Nihal Singh whose death was set in motion, some say purposely, while returning from his father's cremation. He was the half brother of Nau Nihal's father, Kartar Singh. Proclaimed Maharaja by his vazir (pronounced wazir, his prime minister). He won the throne after a protracted siege of the Lahore Fort which was held by the Royal family. Thousands died in the siege. Historians record that he was not very smart politically and let the Dogra brothers (they were responsible for the death of Maharaja Nau Nihal Singh and his father) take charge of all functions of state. The Dogra brothers, like puppet masters, pulled the strings of others to bring about the death of Sher Singh. Sher Singh was killed as he reached for a new shotgun held by Ajit Singh Sandhawalia his cousin, who pulled the trigger. Sher Singh only had time to utter, "what treachery." The Sandhawalias believed he was complicit in the death of the two previous Maharajas. The Dogra plans went awry as Dhian Singh Dogra was out foxed and killed as well. The Sandhawalias were thought to have also had designs on the kingdom.
    Prince Peshaura Singh (son of Ranjit Singh), had rebelled and had taken Attock under the instructions of the Dogra brothers. Prime minister Jawahar Singh (Jind Kaur's brother) rushed forces to Attock to stop the rebellion and in the process Prince Peshaura Singh was killed. The Sikh Khalsa army in revenge for the killing of the rebelling prince killed Duleep Singh's maternal uncle Prime minister Jawahar Singh in front of Jind Kaur (or Rani Jindan, Messalina of Punjab. She was the youngest wife of Maharaja Ranjit Singh and the mother of the last Sikh Emperor, Maharaja Duleep Singh. She died on 01 Aug 1863 in London) and Duleep Singh, as punishment at Lahore on September 21, 1845.
  • Dhuleep Singh S/o Ranjit Singh....................17 Sep 1843 - 22 Feb 1849
  • Maharajadhiraja Sir Dhuleep Singh, GCSI (Born: Lahore, 06 September 1838 - Died: Paris, 22 October 1893) was a Sikh ruler of the sovereign state of Punjab, and the Sikh Empire. He was the last Maharaja of Lahore during the Sikh Raj of Punjab. He was the youngest son of the legendary Lion of the Punjab (Maharaja Ranjit Singh) and the Messalina of the Punjab (Maharani Jind Kaur). He was also known as the Black Prince of Perthshire.
    The treaty of 1809 no longer proved able to hold the peace, and the Sikh army attached the British (1845-1846) only to be badly beaten in a series of confrontations. The treaty of Lahore, which followed this first Anglo-Sikh war reduced the Sikh army. It obliged the Sikhs to cede the Jallandar Doab and Kashmir to the British, and required them to pay an indemnity of fifty thousand pounds and accept a British resident at their court. In 1848 the Sikhs again revolted, and were again crushed. In 1849 the Punjab was annexed an from that time onwards they came under British rule. After the close of the Second Anglo-Sikh War and the subsequent annexation of the Punjab in 1849, he was deposed at the age of eleven by the East India Company and was separated from his mother, who was imprisoned. He was put into the care of Dr John Login and sent from Lahore to Fatehgarh on December 21, 1849. A young Maharaja Dhuleep Singh.The British took, in controversial circumstances, the Koh-i-Noor diamond along with other items of his family's personal estate, state and religious property (most items were sold by public auction) to Queen Victoria as reportedly part of the terms of the conclusion of the war and the 250th anniversary of the East India Company on July 3, 1850. His health was reportedly poor, and he was mostly in quasi-exile in Fatehgarh and Lucknow after 1849, with tight restrictions on who he was allowed to meet. No Indians, except trusted servants, could meet him in private. As a matter of British policy, he was to be Anglicized in every possible respect. While no specific information was released about his health, he was often sent to the hill station of Landour near Mussoorie in the Lower Himalaya for convalescence, at the time about 4 days journey. He would remain for weeks at a time in Landour at a grand hilltop building called The Castle, which had been lavishly furnished to accommodate him.
    In 1853, under the tutelage of his long-time retainer Bhajan Lal (himself a Christian convert) he converted to Christianity at Fatehgarh with the approval of the Governor-General Lord Dalhousie. His conversion remains controversial, having been effected in unclear circumstances when a child, before he turned 15. He was also heavily and continuously exposed to Christian texts under the tutelage of the devout John Login. His two closest childhood friends were both English, one being the child of Anglican missionaries.
    In 1854, he was then sent into exile in England. Queen Victoria showered affection upon the turbaned Maharajah, as did the Prince Consort. While in exile, he sought to learn more about Sikhism and was eager to return to India. He eventually got bored with Roehampton and expressed a wish to go back to India but it was suggested by the East India Company Board he take a tour of the European continent which he did with Sir John Spencer Login and Lady Login.
    He was thwarted by his handlers and the British Government, who finally decided in 1886, in no uncertain terms, against his return to India or his re-embracing Sikhism. Despite protests from the India Office, he set sail for 'home'. He was intercepted and arrested in Aden, where the writ of the Raj began. He could not be stopped from an informal re-conversion ceremony in Aden (far less grand and symbolic than it would have been in India), but was forced to return to Europe. He headed for Paris, where he would die at the age of 55, not really having seen India (let alone the Punjab) again after he was 15, except for two brief, tightly-controlled visits in 1860 (to bring his mother to England) and in 1863 (to scatter his mother's ashes).
    He also traveled to Russia where he tried and failed to persuade the Czar of the benefits of invading India through the North and reinstalling him as ruler. Queen Victoria and Maharaja Dhuleep Singh reconciled their differences before he died. A statue of the Maharajah was officially unveiled by HRH the Prince of Wales in 1999 at Butten Island in Thetford, a town which benefited from his and his sons' generosity. Duleep Singh died in Paris in 1893 (in exile in Egypt then France to 05 Sep 1893)
    and his body was brought back to be buried (according to Christian rites, under the supervision of the India Office) in Elveden Church. Duleep Singh's wish for his body to be returned to India was declined, in fear of unrest given the symbolic value the funeral of the son of the Lion of the Punjab may have caused, given growing resentment of British rule.
    • Maharajas in Exile
    • Victor Albert Jay Dhuleep Singh (in U.K.).....05 Sep 1893 - 07 Jun 1918
    • Son of Dhuleep Singh, born on 10th July 1866 in London, married on 04th January 1898 to Lady Anne Blanche Coventry (daughter of Lord George William Coventry, 9th Earl of Coventry) and had children. He died on 07th June 1918.
    • Frederick Dhuleep Singh (in U.K.).............07 Jun 1918 - 15 Aug 1926
    • Son of Dhuleep Singh, born on 28th January 1868 in London, died unmarried on 15th August 1926 in Norfolk.
    • Sandhanwalia (Jagir) in Punjab
    • Sardar Gurdit Singh Sandhanwalia.....................1927 - ?
    • Gurdit Singh was the son of Sardar Thakur Singh (born 1837, appointed by the British as extra-assistant commissioner for Amritsar district, also nominated a member of the Golden Temple managing committee, founder and first President of the Sri Guru Singh Sabha in 1873, appointed Prime Minister to Maharaja Dhuleep Singh's emigré government. He died on 18th Aug 1887). Thakur Singh S/o Sardar Lehna Singh S/o Sardar Amir Singh S/o Sardar Didar Singh S/o Sardar Chanda Singh (brother of Naudh Singh) S/o Sardar Buddha Singh. Following the resumption of the jagir, Gurdit Singh and his brothers were granted an annual income of 1,200 Rs, married and had children: Sardar Sarup Singh (died before 1947) and Sardar Pritam Singh.
    • Sardar Pritam Singh Sandhanwalia S/o Gurdit Singh......? - 1978
    • Sardar Beant Singh Sandhanwakia S/o Pritam Singh....1978 - date
  • Great Britain............................................1849 - 1947
  • British Residents (to 1 Jan 1847, Agent)
    • Henry Montgomery Lawrence.......................Mar 1846 - 04 Mar 1848
    • Frederick Currie................................Mar 1848 - 29 Mar 1849
  • Partitioned between India and Pakistan...

Paisa. Year: ND. Weight: 10.93g. Metal: Copper. Diameter: xx mm. Edge: Plain. Alignment: Rotated. Mint: Amritsar. Obverse legend: ਅਕਾਲ ਸਹਾਈ ਗੁ / ਰ ਨਾਨਕ ਜੀ (akal sahai gur nanak ji). Reverse: ਜਰਾਬਾਂ ਸ੍ਰੀ ਅੰਮ੍ਰਿਤਸਰ ਜੀ (Jaraba sri Amritsar ji). Mintage Years: N.A. Note: Somehow Scarce.

Ruler: None of the coins bear the name of Sikh ruler but was produced during Ranjit Singh's reign. Gurumukhi legends on both sides of this Amritsar mint coin of Sikh Empire.

Unlisted style in Krause and Mishler's book.

Early Indian coins:

British India coins:

Coins of Indian Princely States and other colonies:


Countries / Territories
Chiefa Coins