Page last updated at 14:57 GMT, Tuesday, 30 September 2008 15:57 UK

On the trail of the Sikh heritage

By Harbinder Singh
Honorary director of Scottish Sikh Heritage Trail

Harbinder Singh
Harbinder Singh said it was time to showcase historic links

The aim of the Scottish Sikh Heritage Trail is to highlight the close historical connection between the Scots and Sikhs, of which most of the general public are unaware.

The Anglo Sikh Heritage Trail has been running successfully in England since 2004, so we felt it was a natural progression to extend it to Scotland.

Scotland has a long-established Sikh community, beginning with colonial India.

The East India company and the British administration employed lots of Scottish administrators - Lord Dalhousie, Lord Harding and others.

As a result of the annexation of the Punjab in 1854 there was a great flow of Scotsmen into the region.

The largely unknown but amazing historical interplay between Sikhs and Scotland is further shown when Maharajah Duleep Singh moved to Britain in 1854 and took up residence at the Grandtully estate in Perthshire.

He became a highly-respected member of society in the process, where he was known locally as the 'Black Prince of Perthshire.

Momentous period

We felt that it was time to showcase the historic links we share with the Scottish people.

The trail aims to remind both nations, known for their courage, tenacity, industry and intellect, how they have been historically intertwined by way of colonial administrators, statesmen and military figures across a momentous period of history from the late 1700s to the present day.

An example of the strong connection the Sikhs and Scots have is illustrated through the Rattray family whose descendents live in Perthshire.

Whilst serving in India, Captain Thomas Rattray was chosen to raise a group of military police to control the lower provinces of Bengal and as a mark of respect, the 3rd Battalion Sikh Regiment was renamed the Rattray Sikhs, and is now part of today's modern Indian army.

We are hoping to bring this illustrious and unique heritage to life through this new initiative, further encouraging a common understanding between the two cultures.

In months ahead, the trail will grow through numerous research projects focusing on historic sites and a series of lectures, exhibitions and workshops to highlight Scottish-Sikh connections.

It is our aspiration that it will help inform, empower and inspire individuals and the community at large to a greater appreciation of the history that unites these two great nations.

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