DES RĀJ, BHĀĪ, a Khatrī Sikh of Amritsar, was entrusted with the supervision of the reconstruction of the Harimandar during the sixties and seventies of the eighteenth century. Nothing is known about his early life or family except that he originally came from Sursiṅgh village, 30 km southwest of Amritsar, from where he migrated to the town and flourished in business, with a reputation for honesty and truthfulness. When the Sikhs sacked Sirhind in January 1764 and allocated several hundred thousands rupees from the plunder for the restoration of Srī Harimandar Sāhib at Amritsar, demolished by Ahmad Shāh Durrānī two years earlier, they assigned Bhāī Des Rāj to undertake the reconstruction. The money was deposited with some bankers of repute at Amritsar from whom Bhāī Des Rāj was authorized to withdraw amounts as and when needed. He was also given a seal, Gurū kī mohar or the Gurū's seal by the Khālsā to raise more funds. The foundation of the holy sanctum was laid on 19 April 1764 by Jassā Siṅgh Āhlūvālīā, supreme commander of the Dal Khālsā. According to Giānī Giān Siṅgh, Twārīkh Srī Amritsar, the construction of the Harimandar, the approach bridge, the Darshanī Deoṛhī or gateway, and the clearance of the sacred tank filled by the debris in 1762 were completed by 1776. After the sack of Khurjā, a rich market-town in the present Bulandshahar district of Uttar Pradesh, by the Dal Khālsā in February 1783, one tenth of the plunder, amounting to 1, 00, 000 rupees, was also placed at the disposal of Bhāī Des Rāj, who now started having the parikramā or the circumambulatory terrace paved. This work, including the platform around the Dukhbhañjanī Berī and two large masonry screens for ladies' baths, was completed by 1784.
Sarmukh Siṅgh Amole