Maharaja Ranjit Singh's contributions to Harimandir Sahib
When Maharaja Ranjit Singh took the occupation of the city of Amritsar from the Bhangi Sardar, the first thing he did was, that he straight went to Harimandir Sahib to pay homage. On the same day he granted Jagirs to the staff working in the Harimandir Sahib
He also took many other steps to decorate Harimandir Sahib Giani Gain Singh gives the following details of expenditure incurred in lacs by Maharaja Ranjit Singh and his family::
Maharaja Ranjit Singh
Maharaja Kharak Singh & Kanwar Nau Nihal Singh
It is presumed that the whole work of renovation had been completed by 1830 AD. as is evident from the inscription in Gurmukhi on the entrance gate of Harimandir Sahib. The inscription reads as under:
“The gracious Guru through his benevolence considering Sri Maharaj Singh Sahib as his loving follower and servant got this work executed by him 1887 B.K (1830 A.D.).”
If Maharaja was getting any beautiful and precious article from the public, then he used to present it to Harimandir Sahib::
On one occasion the Nizam of Hyderabad sent a request for soldiers to guard his harem. Maharaja immediately sent 1200 picked Sikh guards Nizam was so impressed that he presented a very beautiful canopy to Maharaja Ranjit Singh. But when Maharaja erected that canopy in the royal garden to hold a Darbar. hc was astonished to see that beautiful canopy He at once got up from his chair and came out of the canopy The other chiefs also followed him But they could not understand the secret of such an action of the Maharaja When one chief asked Maharaja about it. Maharaja said, "This conopy is very beautiful and precious Such a marvellous canopy is not fit for me It is suitable for the Darbar of Guru Ram Dass Ji" So he himself went to Amritsar and presented that canopy to Harimandir Sahib.
Maharaja visited Harimandir Sahib frequently and he always offered some precious gifts According to roznaamcha named as Umdat-ut-Twarikh written by Sohan Lal Suri,Maharaja offered precious gifts during his each visit.
The details of the some of his visits are given as under:
1.12th August, 1834
Maharaja made an ardaas of 125 ducats and an offering of pearls nacklace to Guru Granth Sahib in Harimandir Sahib.
2.15th September, 1834
Maharaja made an Ardaas thanking the God for restoration of his health He gave in charity one elephant, a number of horses and many buffaloes
3.10th February, 1835
Alms were distributed in the form of cash and articles and he offered prayers at the Harimandar Sahib for his good health
4.31st July, 1835
Maharaja paid homage to Harimander Sahib and offered a Ardaas of 1100 rupees at Harimandir Sahib
5.15th September 1835
The Maharaja offered horses, cows, golden pitchers, suits of clothes and many other things to the needy He advanced Rupees 11000/- from the Royal treasury to Bhai Gurmukh Singh for the construction of the floor of Parikarma of Harimandir Sahib
6.2nd Sept. 1837
Maharaja went to Harimandir Sahib, offered 250 rupees as Ardaas
7.llth January 1838
Maharaja listened to Guru Granth Sahib in Golden Tempte and offered 11 golden pitchers as Ardaas. He also took sankalap and distributed in charity 31 suits of clothes He advised Bhai Gurmukh Singh to use the eleven golden pitchers for gold plating of Harimandir Sahib
8.22nd April, 1838
Maharaja reached Harimandir Sahib with Mr Mackeson. He made Ardass of Rupees 125/- .Mr Mackeson also offered equal sum of money. Then Maharaja inspected the gold plating inside and out side the Harimandir Sahib. He praised the work of gold plating
The contents of the roznamcha clearly indicate that Maharaja was a great devotee of Harimandir Sahib. Mslim rulers constructed beautiful tower houses, tombs and mausoleums Jehangir's tomb at Lahore and Taj Mahal of Agra are such examples But Maharaja Ranjit Singh did not construct Samadhis and beautiful palaces He spent
thousand and Lakhs for the beautification of Harimandir Sahib. He also decorated other Sikh shrines around the Golden Temple. The four uppermost storeys of Akaal Bunga were built by the order of Maharaja Ranjit Singh Expenses were borne by S. Hari Singh Nalwa.
At that time building of Baha Attal Rai was only three storeyed structure Maharaja Ranjit Singh raised it to nine storeyed structure He also gold plated its dome.Maharaja Ranjit Sthgh also invited foreign dignitaries to visit Golden Temple. Lord Auckland, the Governor General of India visited the Golden Temple in December 1838 He was also accompanied by his sister Emily She was a great painter She painted the portraits of Courtiers of Maharaja Ranjit Singh She also wrote the account of her visit in the book known as "Up the Country".
After the operation Blue star Sikh Panth decided to repair and renovate Sri Harimandir Sahib, they started fresh gold plating and gliding and this service was undertaken by Guru Nanak Nishkam Sewak Jatha, Gumdwara Soho Road, Birmingham UK. This was started on February 3, 1995 by Bhai Sahib Bhai Norang Singh ji. But Bhai Norang Singh Ji died while the still project was incomplete. After his death Bhai Mohinder Singh supervised the project The work of gold plating on the Golden Temple was completed in April, 1999.
First it was estimated that about 500 kilograms gold will he sufficient in the fresh gold plating of the Harimaadir Sahib. But estimate proved to be too low
Actually more than 1600 Kilograms of gold was used.
About 150 workers were employed in the gold plating process. It is the opinion of the experts that old copper plates had been covered with 12 leaves of gold on its service, but this time it was increased to 20-24 gold leaves It is also said that now the life of such gold plates will be 500 years.