Chand Kaur (1802 – 11 June 1842) was the fourth ruler of the Sikh Empire, proclaimed as Malika Muqaddisa on 2nd Dec. 1840. Maharani Chand Kaur was born to Sardar Jaimal Singh of the Kanhaiya Misl. In 1812, When she was 10 years old, .married to Crown Prince Kharak Singh, son and heir apparent of Maharaja Ranjit Singh and Maharani Datar Kaur . In 1816, Maharaja Ranjit Singh officially announced Kharak Singh as his heir apparent and anointed him “Tikka Kanwar” (Crown prince) making Chand Kaur the “Tikka Rani Sahiba” (Crown Princess). . In 1821 she gave birth to their only son Nau Nihal Singh, who became second in line of succession to the throne of Punjab. He was married to Bibi Nanaki Kaur Sahiba, daughter of Sham Singh Atariwala in March 1837.
After the death of Ranjit Singh on 27 June 1839, Kharak Singh was appointed as his successor and Raja Dhian Singh Dogra as his wazir (vizier). The new Maharaja only ruled for a few months until October 1839, when he was overthrown in a coup by his son, Nau Nihal Singh, and Dhian Singh. He was imprisoned at Lahore until his death in November 1840 from slow poisoning. Contemporary chroniclers suggest that the poison had been administered under Dhiān Siṅgh’s orders.
Returning from the cremation of his father on 5 November, Nau Nihal Singh went through the gate of the Hazuri Bagh with his companion Udam Singh, son of Gulab Singh, and Dhian Singh’s nephew. As they passed through the gate stones fell from above, killing Udam Singh and injuring the prince. Dhian Singh, who was a few steps behind, immediately arranged for the prince to be taken into the fort. Nobody else was allowed into the fort, not even his mother, Chand Kaur, who beat on the fort gates with her bare hands in a fever of anxiety. Eyewitnesses stated that before he was taken into the fort the prince appeared to be only slightly injured, was conscious and asked for water. However, when his mother and friends were allowed in to see him, he was dead with severe injuries to his head.
After the deaths of Kharak Singh and Nau Nihal Singh, Dhian Singh supported the claim of Sher Singh, the son of Ranjit Singh’s estranged first wife, Mehtab Kaur.
She challenged Sher Singh, the second son of Maharaja Ranjit Singh, on the grounds that her co-daughter, Kanvar Nau Nihal Singh’s widow, Sahib Kaur, was pregnant saying that she should 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 cast aside her veil, leave the zenana, don a turban like a sardar, and inspect the parades of the Khalsa troops as their monarch. She remarked, “Why should I not do as Queen Victoria does in England?”
She had also the support of the Sandhanvalia collaterals; Atar Singh, Lahina Singh and Ajit Singh and several other influential courtiers such as Bhai Ram Singh, Bhai Gobind Ram, Gulab Singh Dogra and Jamadar Khushal Singh.
The arrival in Lahore of two powerful opponents of Sher Singh, Sardar Atar Singh Sandhawalia and Sardar Ajit Singh Sandhawalia, settled the matter On 2 December 1840 Chand Kaur was proclaimed Maharani of the Punjab, with the title Malika Muqaddasa, Empress Immaculate. In July 1841 Sahib Kaur’s son was stillborn, ending any justification for a renewed claim to the regency.
On 13 January, Sher Singh arrived in Lahore. Dhian Singh Dogra, pressed Chand Kaur to adopt his son, Hira Singh, so he might become the next to sit on Ranjit Singh’s golden Gaddi. He was angered when his plotting was rebuffed. Seeing little hope of his ambition being realized, in January of 1841, he openly supported the claims of Sher Singh, who was as well favored by the army.
Sher Singh, winning support of a rival group at the court, including the powerful Rajput Wazir Dhian Singh and of a section of the army, marched upon and laid siege to Lahore , leaving Chand Kaur with 5,000 men and a limited quantity of gunpowder against a force of 26,000 infantry, 8,000 horse and 45 guns. A compromise was, however, arrived at between the two factions by which Chand Kaur became regent with Raja Dhian Singh being returned as principal minister of the State. The truce, however, did not last long. Chand Kaur was pensioned off with an annual jagir of 9,00,000 rupees. Chand Kaur relinquishes her claim to the throne, and on 27 January Sher Singh was formally anointed as Maharaja.
Her Sandhanvalia supporters fled across the Sutlej into British territory. Chand Kaur retired gracefully to the segregation of her late son’s palace inside the city of Lahore. Behind the scenes Dhian Singh’s elder brothe, The future Maharaja of J & K—Gulab Singh, who looked after her property, absconded from the Fort with cartloads of gold and silver.
Nau Nihal Singh’s widow Sahib Kaur delivered a stillborn son. This ended whatever hopes Chand Kaur had of realizing her claims. But courtly intrigue had not ceased. Dhian Singh replaced the maidservants of the Dowager Maharani 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
Dhian Singh, however, had their tongues cut off to prevent them from speaking of the plot. Realizing that there were other ways to tell of his deeds and that anger over losing their tongues might move them to do so–Dhian Singh, in the end, had them executed.
After her death the Sandhanvalia’s would return and take their revenge on Maharaja Sher Singh, his young son and the wily Dhian Singh Dogra. Their triumph would be short lived.
Dhian and emperor Sher were both assassinated on 15 September 1843, in a plot led by Ajit Singh Sandhawalia. Dhian was shot and his body cut into pieces. Dhian’s son Hira Singh led a counter-coup the next day, and killed the assassins. On 17 September 1843, Hira Singh Dogra, aged 24, succeeded his father as the prime minister, with five year old infant Duleep Singh being crowned emperor.
Smathi of Maharani Chand Kaur
Her samadhi, Maharani Chand Kaur Samadhi, is located near Gumat, Jammu. A magnificent gurudwara, known as Gurudwara Maharani Chand Kaur, has also come on the same premises and the adjoining neighborhood is known as Chand Nagar. Another of her samadhi exists at The Royal Lahore Garden, to the south of her samadhi, stands the samadhi of her mother-in-law, Maharani Datar Kaur, lovingly called Mai Nakain by her father-in-law, Maharaja Ranjit Singh. In between the samadhis of the two maharanis, there is the smaller samadhi of her daughter-in-law, Maharani Sahib Kaur.