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The Sikh Empire

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the rise of the Sikh empire under Ranjit Singh, who became Maharaja of the Punjab at Lahore in 1801 and united most of the Sikh kingdoms.

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the rise of the Sikh Empire at the end of the 18th Century under Ranjit Singh, pictured above, who unified most of the Sikh kingdoms following the decline of the Mughal Empire. He became Maharaja of the Punjab at Lahore in 1801, capturing Amritsar the following year. His empire flourished until 1839, after which a decade of unrest ended with the British annexation. At its peak, the Empire covered the Punjab and stretched from the Khyber Pass in the west to the edge of Tibet in the east, up to Kashmir and down to Mithankot on the Indus River. Ranjit Singh is still remembered as "The Lion of the Punjab."


Gurharpal Singh
Professor in Inter-Religious Relations and Development at SOAS, University of London

Chandrika Kaul
Lecturer in Modern History at the University of St Andrews


Susan Stronge
Senior Curator in the Asian Department of the Victoria and Albert Museum

Producer: Simon Tillotson.

Available now

45 minutes

Last on

Thu 7 Apr 2016 21:30


Gurharpal Singh at SOAS, University of London

Chandrika Kaul at the University of St Andrews

Asian Department - Victoria and Albert Museum

Sikh Empire - Wikipedia



Fakir S. Aijazuddin, The Resourceful Fakirs: Three Muslim Brothers at the Sikh Court of Lahore (Three Rivers Publishers, 2014)

Michael Alexander and Sushila Anand, Queen Victoria’s Maharajah: Duleep Singh 1838-93 (first published 1979; Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 2001)

Peter Bance, Sovereign, Squire and Rebel: Maharajah Duleep Singh and the Heirs of a Lost Kingdom (Coronet House Publishing Ltd, 2009)

Bobby Singh Bansal, The Lion’s Firanghis: Europeans at the Court of Lahore (S K Foundation, 2010)

Reginald George Burton, The First and Second Sikh Wars (first published 1911; Westholme Publishing, 2007)

Emily Eden, Up the Country: Letters written to her Sister from the Upper Provinces of India (first published 1866; Cambridge University Press, 2010)

J. S. Grewal, The Sikhs of the Punjab: The New Cambridge History of India II.3 (Cambridge University Press, 1991)

Janet Rizvi with Monisha Ahmed, Pashmina: The Kashmir Shawl and Beyond (Marg Foundation, 2009)

Nikky-Guninder Kaur Singh, Sikhism: An Introduction (IB Tauris, 2011)

Harbans Singh (ed.), The Encyclopedia of Sikhism (4 vols, Punjabi University, 1998)

Kavita Singh (ed.), New Insights into Sikh Art (Marg Publications, 2003)

Khushwant Singh, A History of the Sikhs (2 vols, Oxford University Press, 2004-5)

Khushwant Singh, Ranjit Singh: Maharaja of the Punjab (Penguin, 2001)

Patwant Singh and Jyoti M. Rai, Empire of the Sikhs: The Life and Times of Maharaja Ranjit Singh (Peter Owen Publishers, 2008)

Susan Stronge (ed.), The Arts of the Sikh Kingdoms (V&A Publications, 1999)


Role Contributor
Presenter Melvyn Bragg
Interviewed Guest Gurharpal Singh
Interviewed Guest Chandrika Kaul
Interviewed Guest Susan Stronge
Producer Simon Tillotson


  • Thu 7 Apr 2016 09:00
  • Thu 7 Apr 2016 21:30

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