RAM RAUNI, later known as Ramgarh Fort, was a small mud fortress built in April 1748 near Ramsar, in Amritsar, to provide shelter to scattered Sikh jathas, in Mughal Punjab. Sikh sardars, along with their bands, assembled at Amritsar on the Baisakhi day of 1748 and set to building a raum or enclosure. According to Ratan Singh Bhangu, Prachin Panth Prakash, the Sikhs themselves were the masons and carpenters. The structure consisted of an enclosure of mudwalls, with rudimentary watch towers, and a hastily constructed moat around it.
The fortress, named after Guru Ram Das, the founder of the city of Amritsar, became a rallying point for the Sikh bands against the recurrent onslaughts of the Mughal satraps of Lahore and the Jalandhar Doab.When the Sikhs assembled at Amritsar to celebrate the Diwali festival of 1748, Mu`in ulMulk (Mir Mannu), the severest of the Mughal governors, led out a force against them.He also summoned from Jalandhar Adina Beg who blockaded Ram Rauni where nearly 500 Sikhs had taken shelter, the rest hiding themselves in the bushes near RamsarThe siege continued for three months, from October to December, and, reduced to extreme straits, Sikhs wrote to Jassa Singh Ramgarhia, then known as Jassa Singh Thoka (carpenter) who was in the service of Adina Beg, to come to their rescue.
Jassa Singh, responding to the appeal of his Sikh brethren, left Adina Beg to join them. The siege was ultimately lifted at the intervention of Diwan Kaura Mall, Mir Mannu`s minister, who had his sympathies with the Sikhs.After the death of Mir Mannu in 1753, the Sikhs rebuilt the fortress. Jassa Singh Ramgarhia took a leading part in fortifying it. Renamed Ramgarh, it became the base of Sikhs` future operations.In 1758, when Adina Beg became the governor of the Punjab under the Marathas, he let loose a reign of terror in an effort to exterminate the Sikhs.
Ramgarh was invested by his deputy, Mir `Aziz Bakhshi. The Sikhs were led by warriors such as Jassa Singh Ramgarhia, Nand Singh Sarighnia and Jai Singh Kanhaiya, but they were severely outnumbered. They put up a brave fight, but had to evacuate the fortress in the end. However, not long afterwards, they reassembled at Amritsar. Ramgarh was repaired and regarrisoned, and continued to serve as a bulwark for the defence of the holy city of the Sikhs. The Ramgarhia misl derived its name from the fortress which its leader, Jassa Singh, had redesigned.
1. Bharigu, Ratan Singh, Prachin Panth Prakash. Amritsar, 1914
2. Ganda Singh, Sardar Jassa Singh Ahluvalia. Patiala, 1969
3. Gupta, Hari Ram, History of the Sikhs, vol. IV. Delhi, 1978
4. Gandhi, Surjit Singh, Struggle of the Sikhs for Sovereignty. Delhi, 1980