Ram Bagh Palace, popularly known as Maharaja Ranjit Singh’s Summer Palace, is a heritage building over 190 years old that has stood the storm of time. Completed in 1831, although construction began in 1819, the Summer Palace and its surrounding structure form the entire Ram Bagh complex. After 14 years of delay and interrupted restoration work, the palace was transformed into a museum and historical gallery and reopened to the public.
Undergoing a minor visual and structural transformation, the Summer Palace Museum houses several art and manuscript galleries, a gallery of weapons, with statues of Maharaja Ranjit Singh, Maharani Jind Kaur, Maharaja Khadak Singh, Hari Singh Nalwa and Sham Singh Attari. A walk inside the two-story building, which also has a basement, is like a walk through history. The Ram Bagh complex, including the Summer Palace, is a protected monument of national significance and has been under the supervision of ASI. The entire complex includes the main Summer Palace, which was the dwelling of Maharaja Ranjit Singh and his family; a ghar hammam or public bath; Deorhis or gateways; watchtowers; baradari and munshikhana.
The main museum inside the Summer Palace, among its important exhibits, has a handwritten military manual by Maharaja Ranjit Singh, written between 1822 and 1830 in Persian script. It also displays a handmade map of the Ram Bagh or Gulgast-i-Punjab complex by Tota Ram in 1860 and a model based on that map. Among the most important works of art of the time are the miniatures on ivory which are distinguished by their subtle intricacies and rich textures. Beautiful portraits of Maharajas and other important social and political figures of the time, these miniatures are kept in a temperature-controlled gallery. Drawings and documented lithographs by Emily Eden, English poet and novelist, also find their place in the art gallery.
Other standout features include the Weapons Gallery which showcases various crafted firearms and combat weapons of the era. Zanjail rifles, camel-back guns and wooden barrels, ivory-handled swords, carved bows and arrows all give us a glimpse of what gave power to Maharaja Ranjit Singh’s artillery. The guns and cannons that were built during his time were unparalleled in their efficiency and craftsmanship.
The attention to detail in the costumes and jewelry on the life-size statues of Maharaja Ranjit Singh and Maharani Jind Kaur reminds you of royalty. The intricate glass mosaics and wood inlays on the palace ceilings are reminders of the rich heritage they left behind. The doors that open onto the past and reveal to us a splendid heritage are certainly a one-day history lesson.
#maharaja ranjit singh