The vantage point of Schoefft’s painting and the balcony where he depicted the Maharaja sitting and listening to the Granth in his painting had previously been the private residence of Maharaja Ranjit Singh. The Maharaja already had the large Ram Bagh Palace with it’s extensive gardens in Amritsar that he would use as his official residence on visits to Amritsar. The Ram Bagh palace was not near Darbar Sahib, so Ranjit Singh constructed a new palace overlooking the Darbar Sahib complex. According to court historian Sohan Lal Suri, the Maharaja built his own bunga (residence/palace) towards the north-west of Darbar Sahib, close to the sacred tank .
This palace would then be used by the Maharaja on his visits to Darbar Sahib and provided an excellent vantage with a view of the entire Darbar Sahib complex and sacred pool. This same balcony is likely where Maharaja Ranjit Singh took Emily Eden and her brother Governor General Lord Auckland for a grand view following their visit to the inner sanctum of Darbar Sahib.
When all this was over, Runjeet took us up to a sort of balcony he has in one corner of the square, and by that time the bridge, the temple, the minarets, everything was illuminated.
Up the Country, Volume II
Emily Eden, London, 1866, Letter dated: Camp Umritzir, Dec 10, 1838
Dr. Martin Honigberger who accompanied Schoefft on his visit to Darbar Sahib tells us that Ranjit Singh’s residence provided the best vantage point to paint the Darbar Sahib complex from. It is from this balcony vantage point that Schoefft set up his canvas and drawing materials, spending two days their working on preliminary studies for his famous painting.
On the following morning, we went to the house of the Baii Goormuck Sing, who had promised, on the previous evening, to send a servant to point out to us the most elevated terrace in the square ( which was in the mansion of Runjeet Sing ), from which Herr Schofft could get a view of the temple and the surrounding buildings ; on this place he prepared his atelier. He occupied the whole of the day in sketching the scene, and on the following day he also went there, but alone, to continue his work.
Thirty-five Years in the East
L.M. Honigberger, London, 1852
1. Sohan Lal Suri, Umdat ut-Tawarikh (tr. V.S. Suri) Punjab Itihas Prakashan, Chandigarh, 1974, Daftar III, pg. 19, 82, 182, 308 & 525-27
ref The Golden Temple Past and Present,
Madanjit Kaur Guru Nanak Dev University Press, Amritsar, 1983, pg. 54