The Impressive Samadhi Ranjit Singh
Samadhi Ranjit Singh is one of the most distinctive features at Taxali Gate. I’ve seen the top of this gold-domed structure from the courtyard of Badshahi Mosque on many occasions but this was the first time I saw the intimidating structure from such close proximity. A fusion of Islamic, Indian and Sikh architecture, this massive tomb is preceded by a befittingly impressive staircase. After climbing part of it, you reach a platform with residential quarters for visiting Sikh families. You can see laundry lines as proof.
The writer’s visit to Samadhi Ranjit Singh was a journey into the worship of a community unknown to him. It was an enlightening experience, as he explored the Holy space alongside devoted worshipers.
Beyond this is a small pool filled with tap water. Anyone wanting to enter the tomb must step into it to attain symbolic and physical purity. The noise level drops significantly as soon as you enter this sacred space. If you climb a few more stairs, you reach the tomb.
The floors are carpeted in this indoor area. The only illuminated spot is Maharaja Ranjit Singh’s symbolic grave. His ashes are not displayed for visitors but the urn containing them is housed in the building. In the silence, you can hear a soft humming. The religious scriptures are being recited. It all makes for an atmosphere of reverence and devotion, and all the worshippers and tourists alike are wrapped in it.
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The corners of the ceiling are decorated with extremely intricate ornate gold and mirror work visible only with your phone-torches. To the side, there is an open Guru Granth Sahib – the Sikh holy book – with a light and fan over it. According to our guide, it is brought outside every day to be recited musically with a set composition and put back in the bedroom in the evening.
The bedroom? Our guide explained that the Guru Granth Sahib is considered by Sikhs to be an eternal living Guru. This is why there is a bedroom in the tomb that is air conditioned all day in the summer and gas-heated in the winter. You are allowed to peek through the glass doors of the room and can see the bed.
On the right, Ranjit Singh’s son – Maharaja Kharaj Singh – rests. A roof supported by pillars makes for an open, windy chamber over his grave. He was the conceptual and architectural force behind this tribute to his father. A smiling sun is painted on the roof and, from whichever angle you gaze up, it appears to be looking straight at you. It made me smile.
This experience surely gave me a peek into the Sikh history of the region in general, and the city in particular. It intensified my craving to learn more about parts of Lahore that I have not yet explored in all my years of living here. Ever since this visit to the Samadhi, my feet have been itching to cover more ground of the surrounding area; to familiarize myself with uncharted territory, culture and stories.