Kapurthala (Punjabi: ਕਪੂਰਥਲਾ) is a city in Punjab state of India. It is the administrative headquarters of Kapurthala District. It was the capital of the Kapurthala State, a princely state in British India. The secular and aesthetic mix of the city with its prominent buildings based on French and Indo-Saracenic architecture self-narrate its princely past. It is also known as city of Palaces & Gardens.
It is said that Kapurthala was founded in the 11th Century during the period of Mahmood Gaznvi. This town was established by Rana Kapoor of Rajput Gharana, of Jaselmer. On his name, the place has got its name- Kapurthala.The present royal family of Kapurthala is descended from Nawab Jassa Singh Ahluwalia, a contemporary of Nadir Shah and Ahmad Shah, who by his intelligence and bravery made himself the leading Sikh of his day.
Almost two centuries ago, When the notorious Ahmed Shah descended upon India for the fifth time in his rapacious career and defeated the Mahrattas from the Punjab. The Sikh community re-established and strengthened their position after about a generation of historical oblivion. When the Sikhs slew Zain Khan in December 1763, Sikh independence became an established fact. Ahmed Shah’s subsequent raids of 1764 and 1767 achieved nothing against the Sikhs.
The most resplendent figure in Sikh history after the ten Gurus, barring the great Maharaja Ranjit Singh, was Sardar Jassa Singh Ahluwalia. The story of Kapurthala is inextricably inter-woven with the life and struggles of Jassa Singh.
It was Nawab Jassa Singh Ahluwalia(1718-1783) who evicted Ibrahim Khan, a usurper after the death of Mughal Governor Adina Beg, from Kapurthala. Jassa Singh selected Kapurthala as his capital.
He was successor of Nawab Kapur Singh. He was given the honour of Nawab by the Sikh Confederation in 1754 AD. He was a brave man and held at very high esteem by his people. The word Ahluwalia comes from a name of Ahlu village that was raised by Sardar Sandhu Singh of Kapurthala and is now in Lahore district of Pakistan.
As Jassa Singh Ahluwalia had no issue, his second cousin Sr.Bhag Singh was made ruler. After his death in 1803 his son Fateh Singh became the ruler. He had close friendship with Maharaja Ranjit Singh. He was the first king of Punjab to enter into a treaty with the East India Company in 1806. On his death in 1836 his son Raja Nihal Singh became the king. Sr. Jassa Singh had acquired lands both to the North and South of Sutlej river. But the treaty of 1805 stipulated that the Sutlej should form the boundary between East India Company’s territory and Raja Ranjit Singh’s emergent kingdom. Raja Fateh Singh served as an able Lieutanant in Ranjit Singh’s campaigns but because of some misunderstanding in 1825, he left the north of Sutlej and lived lonely life thereafter. His successor Raja Nihal Singh who took the reign in 1836, also remained neutral but his soldiers inevitably backed Sikhs and as a result Southern portion of Kapurthala was annexed by Britishers. After that all the kings of Kapurthala tried to convert it into a model city-state rather than concentrating on the British-India war.
In 1852 Sr Nihal Singh died and his son Raja-i-Rajgan Raja Randhir Singh took over. During the 1857 war of Independence he was awarded a title of Grand Commander of the order of the star of India (GCSI) by the British for his support. His son Maharaja Kharak Singh ruled the state from 1870 to 1877.
Maharaja Kharak Singh ‘s son Tikka Jagatjit Singh (1872-1948) became the ruler when he was barely five years old. During his minority the state was administered by an officer of Punjab Commission, assisted by a council composed of the Principal officials of the state. The Maharaja had the rare honour of occupying the Gaddi for 67 years and actually ruling the State for more than 55 years ( till 1948) .