Gobindgarh Fort! Though The Capital Of Maharaja Ranjit Singh’s Kingdom Was Lahore, This Fort Was At The Heart Of His Empire!

Gobindgarh Fort was built by the army of Gujjar Singh Bhangi of Sikh Misls. This fort was reconstructed by Maharaja Ranjit Singh between 1805 and 1809.

The Punjab region in the 18th Century was ruled by clans called Misls. In 1760s Gujar Singh Bhangi, a local chieftain built this as a mud fortress and it came to be known as “Bhagian da Qilla”. In 1809, the financial position of the misl deteriorated over time and a minor ruler Gurdit S. Bhangi, a descendent of Gujjar Singh, was ruling Amritsar with the help of his mother Mai Sukhan. Mai Sukhan asked Arur Mal, a trader of the Bhangi township, to pay Tribute. Not wanting to do so, Arur Mal migrated to the township of the rival Kanhiyas misl in order to avoid payment.

Arur Mal conspired with Shaikh Kamaluddin, a leading citizen and they invited Ranjit Singh, to take over the fort and the territories of Gurdit Singh. Maharaja Ranjit Singh was looking for just such an opportunity. He called upon Mai Sukhan to surrender big cannon famously known as the Zamzama Cannon also known as “Bhangian Di Tope”. Maharaja Ranjit Singh claimed that he had the right to the cannon as it was the Sukerchakia Misl’s share of the spoils of the war with the Afghan king, Ahmad Shah Durrani in 1765. Mai Sukhan refused. Ranjit Singh thereupon entered the city through the Ahluwalia gate. The Bhangies could not hold up again Ranjit Singh’s huge force.

The Maharaja took over the fort and along with it the Zamzama Cannon and Mai Sukhan and the Bhangies were granted a few villages for their maintenance.The capture of the fort was a valuable acquisition for Maharaja Ranjit Singh. He renamed the fort ‘Gobindgarh’ after the tenth Sikh Guru, Guru Shri Gobind Singh Ji. One of the main reasons for the consolidation of the fort most likely was to guard the city of Amritsar from invaders. This bean shaped city was most vulnerable to attacks and there were constant threats from the Afghans from the North West frontier. The fort saw major repairs, additions and rebuilding from 1805 till 1809, under the supervision of its second governor and foreign minister of Maharaja Ranjit Singh, Fakir Azizuddin. Large sums of money were spent to make the fort a solid defence fortification with the help of the French Generals who had joined Maharaja Ranjit Singh.

The Maharaja ruled successfully for forty years from the Sutlej to Indus, from Punjab Hills to Khyber Pass on the Indo-Central Asian Route Every year he spent some time at Amritsar and Generally reached Amritsar before the rainy season set in and remained there till the Dussehra celebrations were over. The Fort was captured by the British after the Second Anglo-Sikh War in 1849. After Independence the fort was garrisoned by the Indian army in 1947. Gobindgarh has been at the very heart of political events in the Punjab for most of its existence. Since it was always a military preserve, it was inaccessible for the public.

It was declared as a historical monument by the Government of Punjab under The Punjab Ancient and Historical Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act, in 1964. At the time of India-Pakistan partition, this fort served as the camp for immigrants from Pakistan. This fort was open for public in December 2006 by then Punjab Chief Minister, Captain Amarinder Singh.

Sharanya Alva


Related Articles