DESĀ SIṄGH MAJĪṬHĪĀ (1768-1832), an army general and civil administrator in Sikh times, was the son of Naudh Siṅgh, a feudal retainer under Amar Siṅgh Baggā of the Kanhaiyā misl. When Naudh Siṅgh died in 1788, Desā Siṅgh succeeded to the family estates. He served Buddh Siṅgh Baggā, successor of Amar Siṅgh Baggā, for a number of years before joining Raṇjīt Siṅgh's army. In 1804, Desā Siṅgh was made a commander of 400 sowārs. He served the Mahārājā in many of his early campaigns. In August 1809, he was appointed commandant of the Fort of Kāṅgṛā after Raṇjīt Siṅgh had occupied it driving away the Gurkhā general, Amar Siṅgh Thāpā. In 1811, he was charged with reducing the Fort of Koṭlā, half-way between Kāṅgṛā and Nūrpur. Soon after he was made the nāzīm (administrator) of Kāṅgṛā and hill districts of Chambā, Nūrpur, Koṭlā, Shāhpur, Jasroṭā, Basohli, Mankoṭ, Jasvān, Sībā, Guler, Maṇḍī, Suket, Kullū and Dātārpur. Desā Siṅgh who had made the hill region his home married a Kāṅgṛā girl to whom was born his son Raṇjodh Siṅgh.

         Desā Siṅgh participated in the campaigns launched to capture Multān (1818), Kashmīr (1819) and Nausherā (1823). He commanded great influence at the Sikh court and was the recipient of several titles and jāgīrs. For a few years he served as the nāzim of Amritsar and its adjoining territories, with management of the Golden Temple as his special charge . He was often sent to receive and look after foreign dignitaries visiting the court. He established in the hill territories under his control a mild and humane administration. The Guler style of Sikh painting with the ten Sikh Gurūs and the Mahārājā and his courtiers as its main themes developed during his time.

         Desā Siṅgh died in 1832, and was succeeded in all his estates and honours by his eldest son, Lahiṇā Siṅgh Majīṭhīā.


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B. J. Hasrat