Ramgarhia Bunga- It Once Served As The Headquarters Of Various Sikh Chieftains That Protected The Golden Temple

Located in the vicinity of Sri Darbar Sahib, Amritsar, the Ramgarhia Bunga(Quarters) which was built by S. Jassa Singh Ramgarhia in the late 18th Century is the only surviving example of Bunga architecture typology.

The history of the Ramgarhia Bunga is inseparable from the history of the Golden Temple because its very existence is dependent on the latter. During the reign of the Mughal Emperors the temple was blown up with gunpowder or destroyed by other means no less than seven times. But each time it was rebuilt by the Sikhs. When it was demolished the last time, and the Sardars of the 12 Misls assembled at the Akal Bunga (situated in the front of the temple) to consult about the reconstruction of the temple it was rightly thought that it would be no use to rebuild the temple unless some of the Khalsa leaders remained in it for its protection against their enemies.

During Misls rule in Punjab, all the Sikh Sardars decided to protect Harmandar Sahib and sarovar from the invading Mughals, Afgan Pathans and build Bungas  meaning quarters to keep their forces in it to fight and deter the invaders.

Ramgarhia Bunga is situated in the Eastern Side of the Sarovar adjacent to Akhara Barram Buta. This Bunga is very different from the other Bungas, since it is a perfect Fort type building attached with two watch towers to see the invading forces and to alert the defence forces to fight with the enemy.. The underground storey was used to store Arms, ammunition, eatable materials and enemy detention rooms etc. The Ground Floor has a very big convention hall, Throne Seat and other living rooms etc. The upper storey is decorated with crafted stone pillers, walls and roofs etc. The mughal’s coronation stone plate brought from Lal Qila, Delhi, was also placed in it.

Maharaja Jassa Singh Ramgarhia got the Ramgarhia Bunga constructed in the year 1755. The Bunga got constructed by S. Jassa Singh Ramgarhia houses Diwan-e Khas accommodating royal seat and the roof of the hall is supported by 44 stones pillars representing a fine work of sikh school of architecture and stone masonry. The royal seat is placed at a level much below the level of Harmandar Sahib, which testifies the faith and respect, the ruler had in the Guru. Prison is located underneath the royal seat and the treasury opposite to the same. Proper provision has been made to accommodate official, ministers and generals. A well is also located in the Bunga and arrangements for proper ventilation are also available. Two 156ft. high minarets have also been constructed to ensure due surveillance in and around Sri Darbar Sahib.

The building has serious issues related to deterioration of its historic built fabric and needs urgent measures for its conservation. Amongst the issues of immediate concern are seepage of water into roofs and walls, structural and material decay, use of incompatible material and inappropriate additions, alterations and repairs carried out over the years, all of which have contributed in one way or the other to its present degraded state.

At present the Bunga is under the control of Shromani Gurdwara Parbandhak committee, Amritsar and is being renovated on the demand of Ramgarhia Community, being a Sikh heritage. Ramgarhia community is also contributing in the renovation process.

Sharanya Alva


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