Ram Singh, Sardar Bahadur
Eminent Architect (D.1916)
Was born in a Ramgarhia family and started working in a wood-carver’s shop in Amritsar where he attracted the notice of Mr Kipling, the first principal of the Mayo School of Industrial Arts, Lahore. The Mayo School of Industrial Arts established in 1875 took up students with a long-lasting interest in the craft. Ram Singh proved a quick learner and within a short period of time, he gained appointment in his own school. According to a contemporary account published in Lahore by S.M. Latif, he assisted Kipling in designing the new buildings of the Museum and Technical Institute as well as of the Mayo School of Industrial Arts.
After his retirement, Mr Kipling managed to invite Ram Singh to London for participation in an international exhibition. In 1890, he undertook the trip on a royal invitation to prepare an architectural design for the Durbar Hall wing in Royal Palace. He stayed there for three years and his entry at the international exhibition was adjudged as the best model of the traditional style of Indian architecture. His work attracted the notice of top-ranking European architects of the day. The queen granted him a special audience. After return to India, he became principal of the Mayo School of Industrial Arts, and was awarded the titles of "Sardar Sahib" in 1904, "Sardar Bahadur" in 1909, and "Member of Victorian Order" (MVO) in 1911.
Sardar Bahadur Ram Singh prepared designs of several outstanding buildings in India and abroad. Prominent among these are: Indian Durbar Hall, London; Aitchison Chiefs College; Senate Halls of the Panjab University and Forman Christian College in Lahore; Lady Aitchison Hospital; Government College Boarding House; Albert Victor Wing; Lady Lyall Home; Law Courts; Municipal Hall, Firozpur; District Court Hall, Allahabad; the Viceregal Lodge, Shimla; and the Khalsa College at Amritsar. He also designed emblems for the flags of various Indian states and municipalities. In 1911, he prepared the architectural design and interior decoration scheme for the Coronation Hall in which ceremonies for King George V took place.
Ram Singh almost "invented" the modern Sikh architecture-a mixture of the traditional Indian and Mughal styles-of which perhaps the best example is the historic building of the Khalsa College, Amritsar. Sardar Bahadur Ram Singh died at a relatively young age in 1916.