The Birthplace of Maharaja Ranjit Singh in Ruins

No doubt the Punjab Government has been executing grandiose plans to mark the bicentenary of the coronation ceremony of the great Sikh ruler yet the Badrukhan haveli remains as neglected as ever. Its deplorable condition is not only a blot on the face of the government but also on all citizens of the state who have not made substantial efforts to preserve such a historical monument for posterity.

Taking into consideration the deteriorating condition of alt all the monuments in the state, one is compelled to deduce that we attach little value to our historical relics. When lakhs, if not crores of rupees, are being spent on ceremonies to remember a great king then why cannot some money be spent on the conservation and restoration work of the haveli’

The haveli, 8 km from Sangrur, is at present in the possession of a family living in Delhi. An old chowkidar guarding the haveli said the members of this family were the descendants of the Maharaja and came here once or twice a year.

Barring the facade of the haveli and the new rooms constructed by the owners, this structure is in ruins. With the passage of time, the tastefully decorated entrance gate has lost its sheen. The colours of the carvings have faded but the arches and jharokhas still stand as a testimony to the imposing architecture of the historical haveli.
The good condition of the facade gives the impression that the haveli is well preserved but a look at the inner rooms of the old haveli dashes your hopes. They are in ruins. A portion of the building, which had the room of the Maharaja’s mother, has collapsed completely.

Even the room where the Maharaja was born is no longer accessible. Pointing towards a burj on the left side of the haveli, the chowkidar said the king was born in a room in that burj. The place, considered unsafe, is out of bounds for visitors. The chowkidar does not allow anybody to climb up the stairs.

Though all historians do not recognise the haveli as the birthplace of Maharaja Ranjit Singh, it is popularly considered to be his place of birth. However, there are a number of historians like Sohan Lal Suri and Deewan Amar Nath have written reams on the subject, asserting that the haveli was the actual birthplace of the Sikh ruler.
According to these historians, Raj Kaur, mother of Ranjit Singh, belonged to Badrukhan village. She was married to Sardar Maha Singh of Gujjranwala in 1774. As per tradition, Raj Kaur went to her parents’ house in that village to deliver the baby. It was thus in Badrukhan that the Maharaja was born on November 13, 1776 (some historians say the year was 1780). The boy was named Budh Singh, but was later rechristened Ranjit Singh as there was already a man named Budh Singh in the family tree of Ranjit Singh’s father.

The family later shifted to Gujjranwala and then ultimately to Lahore. The achievements of Maharaja Ranjit Singh are not only well known but have become a part and parcel of our folklore. According to some historians, after the death of the Maharaja, when his kingdom was taken over by the British, villagers did not let the new rulers know about the significance of the haveli. It was thought that if the British came to know about its worth, they would occupy it or even raze it to the ground.

After Independence, the villagers revealed the real worth of the haveli. Since then, successive governments have recognised the historical value attached to the haveli but none has made efforts to restore it. The haveli has not even been accorded the status of a protected monument.

Though the present state government has organised several functions in the past in the village to mark the birth or death anniversaries of Maharaja Ranjit Singh, but nothing has been done to save the haveli from falling into ruins.
It is worth mentioning here that in 1997, the very first year of the SAD-BJP government, a state-level function was organised at the village to celebrate the Maharaja’s birth anniversary. Speaking from the dais, Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal had announced that a memorial to the great king would be constructed in the village and due care of the haveli would also be taken. Alas, neither was the promised care taken nor did a new memorial come up.

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