Retracing shared heritage of India, Pakistan

For her research titled, "Ornamentation of Maharaja Ranjit Singh's Samadhi", she has scanned the collections of National Museum and National Archives in New Delhi and will be visiting Amritsar to locate links between the wall paintings and frescos embellishing the memorial and those found in Indian collections. “I am particularly interested in the Golden Temple, which owes much of its embellishments to Ranjit Singh,” Nadhra told The Tribune, ruing that the literature available is meager.

We know a little about the memorial from the 19th century historians like Latif, Chisti and Kanhaiya Lal, who say it presents a heady mix of Hindu and Muslim artistic styles. “But they leave it at that. They don’t say which section of the memorial is dominated by which style. Also, there is no mention of the artistic scenario of the 10 years of chaos during which the memorial was built. It primarily came up between 1839 when Ranjt Singh died and 1849 when Punjab was annexed,” Nadhra says.

What she does know from primary research is that the memorial was built by a collective of artistes, who converged to Punjab following the victories of Ranjit Singh. “The memorial’s nuances, if researched well, can throw light on the Maharaja’s personality, secrets behind his triumphs and his artistic pursuits,” Nadhra says. She has visited India six times for her research, but every time she comes she feels restrained by the short period of her visas. “I wish I could stay longer. I just don't seem to have enough,” she says.

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