ĀLĀ SIṄGH, BĀBĀ (1691-1765), Sikh misl leader who became the first ruling chief of Paṭiālā, was born in 1691 at Phūl, in present-day Baṭhiṇḍā district of the Punjab, the third son of Bhāī Rām Siṅgh. His grandfather, Bābā Phūl, had been as a small boy blessed by Gurū Hargobind, Nānak VI. Ālā Siṅgh's father and his uncle, Tilok Siṅgh, had both received the rites of initiation at the hands of Gurū Gobind Siṅgh who conferred on their family the panegyric, "Your house is mine own. "
Ālā Siṅgh was married at an early age to Fateh Kaur, popularly known as Māī Fatto, daughter of Chaudharī Kālā of Khānā, a zamīndār of the village Kāleke, now in Saṅgrūr district of the Punjab, and had three sons, Bhūmīā Siṅgh, Sardūl Siṅgh and Lāl Siṅgh, all of whom died in his lifetime, and a daughter, Bībī Pardhān.
Ālā Siṅgh's career of conquest began soon after the execution of Bandā Siṅgh Bahādur in 1716 when central Punjab lay in utter confusion. Ālā Siṅgh was living at Phūl about 40 km from Baṭhiṇḍā. He gathered around him a band of dashing and daring young men. In 1722, he set up his headquarters at Barnālā, 32 km farther east, and his territory comprised 30-odd villages. At Barnālā, Ālā Siṅgh defeated in 1731 Rāi Kalhā of Rāikoṭ, an influential chief with a large force at his command. Aided by roving bands of the Dal Khālsā, he ransacked and annexed several villages belonging to the Bhaṭṭīs. He also founded several new villages such as Chhājalī, Diṛbā, Lauṅgovāl and Sheroṅ. For a period Ālā Siṅgh remained in the custody of 'Alī Muhammad Khān Ruhīlā, Mughal governor of Sirhind from 1745-48, and was released only when the latter fled his capital at the approach in February 1748 of the Afghān invader Ahmad Shāh Durrānī. In the battle fought on 11 March 1748, near Mānūpūr, 15 km northwest of Sirhind, between the Mughals and Ahmad Shāh Durrānī, Ālā Siṅgh sided with the former. He cut off Durrānī's supplies and captured his camels and horses. In 1749, Ālā Siṅgh defeated and repulsed Farīd Khān, a Rājpūt chieftain, who had sought the help of the imperial governor of Sirhind and stopped the construction by him of a fort at Bhavānīgaṛh. Three years later, Ālā Siṅgh, captured the district of Sanaur, called chaurāsī, lit. eighty-four, from the number of the villages it comprised. One of these where he built a fort in 1763 and which was thenceforth his permanent seat, became famous as Paṭiālā. At the end of 1760, Ālā Siṅgh possessed 726 villages including many towns. On the eve of the battle of Pānīpat (1761) when the Marāṭhās' camp was blockaded by Ahmad Shāh Durrānī, Ālā Siṅgh helped them with foodgrain and other provisions. In the Vaḍḍā Ghallūghārā or Great Carnage of February 1762, Ālā Siṅgh remained neutral. Ahmad Shāh punished him with the devastation of the town of Barnālā. Ālā Siṅgh, who presented himself in the Shāh's camp, was ordered to shave off his head and beard. This he declined to do and offered instead to pay a sum of one and a quarter lakh of rupees. The Shāh accepted the money but had him taken to Lahore where he secured his freedom by paying another five lakh of rupees.
Ālā Siṅgh took the pāhul in 1732 at the hands of Nawāb Kapur Siṅgh, leader of the Dal Khālsā. He was an ally of Jassā Siṅgh Āhlūvālīā in the attack on Sirhind in 1764. Later he purchased this town from Bhāī Buḍḍhā Siṅgh to whom it had been assigned by the Khālsā. On 29 March 1761, Ahmad Shāh Durrānī had already recognized by a written decree the sovereignty of Ālā Siṅgh over the territories held by him. At the time of his seventh invasion of India, he confirmed him in the government of Sirhind (1765) and granted him the title of Rājā, with the robes of honour as well as with a drum and a banner as insignia of royalty.
Ālā Siṅgh died on 7 August 1765 at Paṭiālā and was cremated in the Fort, now inside the city.