CHAND KAUR, MAHĀRĀṆĪ (1802-1842), wife of Mahārājā Khaṛak Siṅgh, the eldest son of and successor to Mahārājā Raṇjīt Siṅgh, was born the daughter of Sardār Jaimal Siṅgh of the Kanhaiyā misl in 1802 at Fatehgaṛh, in present-day Gurdāspur district of the Punjab. She was married to Prince Khaṛak Siṅgh in February 1812 at the age of 10. After the death in most tragic circumstances of her husband, then Mahārājā of the Punjab, as well as of her son, Kaṅvar Nau Nihāl Siṅgh, in November 1840, she staked her claim to the throne of Lahore. She had won the support of the Sandhāṅvāliā collaterals - Atar Siṅgh, Lahiṇā Siṅgh and Ajīt Siṅgh, and of other influential courtiers such as Bhāī Rām Siṅgh, Bhāī Gobind Rām, Gulāb Siṅgh Ḍogrā and Jamadar Khushāl Siṅgh. She challenged Sher Siṅgh, the second son of Mahārājā Raṇjīt Singh on the grounds that her daughter-in-law, Kaṅvar Nau Nihāl Siṅgh's widow, Sāhib Kaur, was pregnant and that she would assume regency on behalf of the unborn legal successor to her husband's throne.

         Chand Kaur's ambition was matched by her courageous spirit. She would, she declared, cast aside her veil and come out of the zenana, don a turban like a sardār, and like a monarch inspect the parade of the army troops. "Why should I not do as Queen Victoria does in England?" Sher Siṅgh, winning support of a rival group at the court and of a section of the army, marched upon Lahore. A compromise was, however, arrived at between the two factions by which Chand Kaur became regent and Rājā Dhiān Siṅgh principal minister of the State. The truce, however, did not last long. Dhiān Siṅgh Ḍogrā, who wished Chand Kaur to adopt his son, Hīrā Siṅgh, as successor to the throne, became estranged when he saw little hope of his ambition being realized. In January 1841, he openly supported claims of Sher Siṅgh who was proclaimed by the army, also changing sides, sovereign of the Punjab. Chand Kaur was pensioned off with an annual jāgīr of 9, 00, 000 rupees, and her Sandhāṅvāliā supporters fled across the Sutlej into British territory. Chand Kaur retired gracefully to the segregation of her late son's palace in-side the city of Lahore. Dhiān Siṅgh's elder brother, Gulāb Siṅgh, who looked after her property, had absconded from the Fort with cartloads of gold and silver. In July 1841, Nau Nihāl Siṅgh's widow, Sāhib Kaur delivered a stillborn son. This ended whatever hopes Chand Kaur had of resurrecting her claims. But courtly intrigue had not ceased. Dhiān Siṅgh replaced the maidservants of the Dowager Mahārāṇī with hillwomen from his own country. The latter tried to kill her by poisoning her food and eventually finished her off on 11 June 1842, smashing her head with wooden pikes from the kitchen. Dhiān Siṅgh however had had their tongues cut off to prevent them divulging the plot. In the end, they were executed under his own orders.


  1. Surī, Sohan Lāl, 'Umdāt-ut-Twārīkh. Lahore, 1885-89
  2. Griffin, Lepel, and C. F. Massy, Chiefs and Families of Note in the Punjab. Lahore, 1890
  3. Hasrat, B. J. , Life and Times of Ranjit Singh. Hoshiarpur, 1977
  4. Fauja Singh, ed. , Maharaja Kharak Siṅgh. Patiala,

Bhagat Siṅgh