The Last Sunset: The Rise & Fall of the Lahore Durbar
This beautiful title spans the rise of the Sikh Empire of Maharaja Ranjit Singh in Punjab, north India. By 1825 the empire had annexed eastern Afghanistan and the whole of what is now Kashmir going well into Tibet. The Maharaja was first among non Muslims to annex the Pathan -Pushtun- territories where the Taliban is now active. This brought to an end a one thousand year of loot by Muslim raiders from the north west.
Though the Muslim population of the Maharaja was 90% but his rule was, what we now call: the most secular. More than half the ministers in his Durbar (Court) were Muslim or Hindus and many of his Generals were Europeans who modernized his army.
His army was so powerful and modern for the times that even the East India Company of the English, having occupied most of the Indian subcontinent by 1805, were not keen to threaten him. The Sikh Khalsa army was the best and even better than what the English had.
This book covers in detail the demise of his empire after his death due to lack of an able ruler. The book shows very nicely how the English cultivated certain elements in the Durbar and how the two armies fought Nine battles in two Anglo-Sikh wars of 1845 and 1849 before the Sikh empire could be annexed.