NAU NIHĀL SIṄGH, KAṄVAR (1821-1840), son of Mahārājā Khaṛak Singh was born on 23 February 1821. According to the official Lahore diarist, Sohan Lāl Sūrī, great rejoicing took place at his birth and a Persian chronogram — A bouquet of wisdom's garden — was coined recording the year of his birth. Nau Nihāl Siṅgh was the favourite grandson of Mahārājā Raṇjīt Singh who bestowed much personal attention on his upbringing and training. In March 1837, he was married to the daughter of Sham Siṅgh Aṭārīvālā. The occasion was marked by a display of extraordinary splendour and lavishness. The Mahārājā began entrusting Nau Nihāl Siṅgh with the command of military expeditions while he was still very young. He was barely 13 when he participated in the Peshāwar campaign of 1834. He was then appointed to administer the country in the Attock region. The same year, the province of Peshāwar was farmed out to him for an annual payment of Rs 12,00,000. In 1835, he suppressed a revolt in the ḍerājāt and Ṭoṅk. In 1836, he accompanied his father, Kaṅvar Khaṛak Siṅgh, to the borders of Sindh to confront the Talpurian amīrs. Nau Nihāl Siṅgh took part in the operations of the Khaibar when, in April 1839, he commanded a Sikh army which proceeded to Peshāwar to assist Colonel Wade s contingent on its march through the Punjab to Kābul across the Khaibār Pass.

         Nau Nihāl Siṅgh was at Peshāwar when Raṇjīt Siṅgh died on 27 June 1839. He arrived at Lahore on 17 September and became involved in court politics. The faction led by the ḍogrās — Dhiān Siṅgh, Gulāb Siṅgh and Suchet Siṅgh — gained influence over him. This faction resented the growing influence of Chet Siṅgh. The Wazīr incited the young prince to urge his father to dismiss his favourite which the Mahārājā refused to do. A conspiracy was then hatched by Rājā Dhiān Siṅgh to finish off Chet Siṅgh. On the morning of 9 October 1839, the ḍogrā trinity, accompanied by Kaṅvar Nau Nihāl Siṅgh, forced their entry into the royal apartments. Dhiān Siṅgh plunged a dagger into the heart of Chet Siṅgh in the presence of their royal master. Mahārājā Khaṛak Siṅgh was thereafter reduced to a mere shadow. He was virtually placed in confinement by the ḍogrās. Kaṅvar Nau Nihāl Siṅgh took into his hands the reins of government. In March 1840, Mahārājā Khaṛak Siṅgh fell ill. Contemporary chroniclers indicate that he had been administered poison under Dhiān Siṅgh's orders. He died on 5 November 1840. The same day, as Kaṅvar Nau Nihāl Siṅgh was returning after the funeral rites, the northern gate of the Hazūrī Bāgh was brought down upon his head. He had suffered only minor injuries, but he was quickly taken into the Fort in a pālkī which had been kept ready in advance. Inside the Fort, the prince's head was crushed with stones by Dhiān Siṅgh's men. With his death which occurred on 8 November "glory departed from the Punjab, and brightness no longer reflected on the royal presence," bemoans a contemporary Persian chronicler.


  1. Sūrī, Sohan Lāl, 'Umdāt-ut-Twārīkh. Lahore, 1885-89.
  2. Hotī, Prem Siṅgh, Kaṅvar Nau Nihāl Siṅgh. Lahore, n.d.
  3. Fane, H.E., Five Years in India 1835-39. London, 1842
  4. Honigberger, John Martin, Thirty-Five Years in the East. London, 1852
  5. Osborne, W.G., The Court and Camp of Runjeet Sing. London,1840
  6. M'Gregor, W.L., The History of the Sikhs. London, 1846
  7. Harbans Singh, The Heritage of the Sikhs. Delhi, 1984

Sardār Siṅgh Bhāṭīā