After British annexation of Punjab, Sikhs were employed in the various regiments of the British army in India, China and other colonies. Their skill as cavalry soldiers was well demonstrated in Maharaja Ranjit Singh’s court in the Sikh empire.  Reading of Ranjit Singh’s reign, his military strategy and acumen one has to admire how he managed to keep his kingdom, keep the British away somewhat till his death in 1839 and of course unifying the several Sikh confederacies. He also kept a harem. Mistresses, 46 wives, dancing girls.

Reading one account describing the court and camp of Ranjit Singh, there’s a story of a beautiful Kashmiri girl called Lotus (Kamal?). Ranjit Singh was besotted with her and thought his love was equally and passionately returned. Ventura, an Italian officer in his military was incredulous. Ranjit Singh firm in his belief wagered with Ventura promising no obstacles or punishment from Ranjit Singh if Ventura succeeded in impressing Lotus.

Sadly for Ranjit Singh, Ventura won, for Lotus was quite willing to be with him and as with her affections transferred from the royal gardens to the Italian’s seraglio..  Stories of King & harems.

A picture of the dancing girls (from a 1800s  book I am reading) who entertained Ranjit Singh’s court: