Sikh Empire

The Sikh Empire was a prominent imperial power which established its rule in the Punjab region of IndianSubcontinent in the later eighteenth century. The Sikh Empire remained a dominant power in the northern Indiabetween the timeframe of 1799 and 1849 AD. Maharaja Ranjit Singh founded this empire by combining the autonomous Sikh Misls to form a single kingdom. At its peak, the Sikh Empire stretched from the Kashmir in the north to the Sindh in the south and from Tibet in the east to the Khyber Pass in the west.
The early foundations of the Sikh Empire were laid after the death of Aurangzeb in 1707, synchronous to the decline of the Mughal Empire. The downfall of the Mughal Empire provided an opportunity to the Sikh army to lead expeditions against Mughals and the Afghans. The Sikh army was then known as the Dal Khalsa. Dal Khalsa was initially formed by the Tenth Guru of the Sikh religion, Shri Guru Gobind Singh, in response to the atrocities of the Mughals on people having any religious faith other then Islam. At the time when the Mughal Empire was declining the Sikh army did everything it could to further weaken and break it. As a result of this the army grew further and was later divided into different confederacies or semi-independent states. These states were known as the ‘Misls’. Each Misl of the Sikh army was responsible to protect and control different cities and their adjoining areas. Initially, these Misls were semi-autonomous and remained united but later in the timeframe between 1762 and 1799, the commanders of each Misl began to come on their own.

In 1801, Maharaja Ranjit Singh was successful to unite and merge these Sikh Misls to form a single state. This lead to the formation of the Sikh Empire and Maharaja Ranjit Singh was proclaimed as the ruler of this newly formed political state. On April 12, 1801, Maharaja Ranjit Singh was formally crowned as the ruler of Sikh Empire and the coronation was conducted by Sahib Singh Bedi, who was a descendant of Shri Guru Nanak Dev, the first Guru of Sikhreligion. Maharaja Ranjit Singh was successful in establishing his rule throughout the Punjab region and was a magnanimous ruler. He took the initiative to modernize the army by providing it sophisticated training and equipping it with latest weapons and artillery. However, after the death of Maharaja Ranjit Singh, the united Sikh Empireweakened internally by political mismanagement and finally disintegrated. It was then divided into four provinces. These were – Kashmir, Multan, Peshawar and Lahore. Later, close to 1849, the Sikh Empire declined and completely dissolved in the Anglo-Sikh wars.


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