A look at the boundaries of the Sikh Empire


Treaty of Amritsar 1809

The Treaty of 1809 between Maharaja Ranjit Singh and The British East India Company which prevented Maharaja Ranjit Singh to expand territorial gains south of the Sutlej river, but was given complete freedom of action to the north. This caused Maharaja Ranjit Singh to concentrate towards the west and conquer Peshawar, Kashmir, Ladakh, and Western Tibet.


Jammu and Kashmir

Prior to the creation of the princely state, Kashmir was ruled by the Pashtun Durrani Empire, until it was annexed by Sikhs led by Ranjit Singh. During Sikh rule, Jammu was a tributary of the Sikh Empire.
After the death of the Raja of Jammu, Kishore Singh, in 1822, his son Gulab Singh was recognized by the Sikhs as his heir. He then, initially under the Sikhs, began expanding his kingdom.

It is important to point out that Maharaja Ranjit Singh conquered Jammu and Kashmir and appointed Gulab Singh(a Dogra) as the head. After the death of Maharaja Ranjit Singh, the British annexed most the Sikh Kingdom and signed a treaty with Gulab Singh Called Treaty of Amritsar 1846 where “all the hilly or mountainous country with its dependencies situated to the eastward of the River Indus and the westward of the River Ravi including Chamba and excluding Lahul, being part of the territories ceded to the British Government by the Lahore State according to the provisions of Article IV of the Treaty of Lahore, dated 9th March, 1846.” Gulab Singh had to also pay annual tributes to the British Govt and since Gulab Singh was a dogra that entire territory which was under the Sikh Empire sadly now was ruled as a Dogra Territory.
Sikhs took Gilgit, the North most province in J&K in 1842, the Sikh General Nathu Shah left Sikh troops there with Karim Khan being the appointed ruler by the Sikhs. The territory was ceded to Gulab Singh of Jammu and Kashmir due to the 1846 Treaty of Amritsar.

Conquests of Zorawar Singh, A Sikh general under Maharaja Ranjit Singh

Zorawar Singh the brave general conquered the impossible terrains of Ladakh and Tibet. He led several expeditions into Ladakh, the first one was in July 1834 from Kistvar, the Sikh Fauj entered the Sum Valley. Ladakh was annexed to the Sikh Kingdom in 1840 the same year Zorawar Singh attacked Baltistan, a Muhammadan principality in the Indus Valley to the northwest of Kargil. He defeated the Baltis the same year. Zorawar Singh next turned his attention towards western Tibet with the approval from Maharaja Ranjit Singh’s son Maharaja Sher Singh. In April 1841, the conquest of Ladakh had been completed and he marched into Tibet at the head of a large army and within six months had conquered territory to the northwest of the Mayyum Pass. The Fauj fought a fierce battle near Lake Manasarovar and General Zorawar Singh was killed on December 12, 1841.

Sardar Hari Singh Nalwa’s Conquests

Hari Singh Nalwa was the Commander in Chief of the most turbulent land the North West Frontier of Maharaja Ranjit Singh. It’s due to the brave efforts of Har Singh that the Khalsa Raj was extended to the Khyber Pass. Before Hari Singh Nalwa’s conquest of the region, the past eight centuries saw marauders who looted, raped and forced conversions to Islam through this route into the subcontinent. Sardar Hari Singh Nalwa became the only General to cause terror to the ferocious tribes inhabiting the region. The last foreign invasion through the Khyber Pass at Jamrud was stopped by Hari Singh and he a built a fort their to permanently stop any future invasion. Hari Singh became a terror force so big that local people of the area would put their kids to sleep by saying that go to sleep before Hari Singh Nalwa comes.

Hari Singh Nalwa participated in the Sialkot, Sahival and Khushab expeditions and in four of Ranjit Singh’s seven campaigns against Multan during 1810, 1816, 1817 and then in 1818. He fought in the battle of Attock in 1813 as second-in-command to Diwan Mohkam Chand, and in Kashmir in 1814 and 1819. Kashmir was occupied and, in 1820, Hari Singh was appointed its governor in succession to Diwan Moti Ram. He restored order in the turbulent areas, and reorganized civil administration.

In 1822, he was assigned to the Pathan territory of Hazara on the northwest of the Sikh kingdom, where he remained for fifteen years and settled the disturbed area. He built a strong fort near Salik Serai, on the left bank of the Dor river, and on the road from Hasan Abdal to Abbotabad and named it Harikishangarh, in honour of the Eighth Guru. He also raised a town in the vicinity of the fort, Haripur, which later grew into a busy commercial and trade centre.

In 1834, Hari Singh finally took Peshawar and annexed it to the Sikh dominions. Two years later, he built a fort at Jamrud at the mouth of the Khyber Pass and scaled it once for all for invaders from the northwest.

Kashmir (1820-21) Greater Hazara (1822-37) Chhachch Hazara, Pothohar plateau, (Rawalpindi), Salt Range (Katas) Trans-Indus’ Viceroy on the Western Frontier’ (1822-31) & Governor of Peshawar (1834-37)
Governor of Kashmir(1820-21), Governor Greater Hazara, Viceroy on the Western Frontier’ (1822-31) & Governor of Peshawar (1834-37)
Early participation in the conquest of cis-Satluj territories, e.g. Bhadowal; trans-Satluj regions in the Rachna and Bari Doabs Kasur (1807) Khushab (Sindh Sagar Doab) & Sahiwal (Chaj Doab) (1810) Gandhgarh (Hazara) (1815) Mahmudkot (Sindh Sagar Doab) (1816) Multan (Bari Doab) (1818) Peshawar becomes tributary (trans-Indus) (1818)
Kashmir (1819) Pakhli & Damtaur (Hazara) (1821-2) Naushehra (trans-Indus) (1823) Sirikot (Hazara) (1824) Wahhabi (trans-Indus) (1826-31) Occupies Peshawar (1834)Jamrud (Khyber Pass) (1836)

A closer look at the map until 1846:


Sources: Sikh Encyclopedia

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