Punjab Information

        Punjab is the land of five rivers.  It was one of the centres of the prehistoric Indus valley civilization.  After 1500 BC, it was the site of the earliest Aryan settlements.  In the past, Punjab was occupied by Alexander the great and then by the Mauryan empire.  Muslims occupied West Punjab by the 8th century and ushered in Islam.  Not until the last 12th century, did they conquer East Punjab, which even afterward, remained predominantly Hindu.  In the late 18th century, the Sikhs rose to dominance. They came into conflict with the British during the early 19th century.  In 1849, the British annexed most of the Punjab and made it a province, though some of the princely states wer retained. 

As you enter the land of the Sikhs, the first impression you get is that of a land pulsing with prosperity. The people living here are called Punjabis and they speak a language called Punjabi.  The three main religions here are Sikhism, Hinduism, and Islam. 

Punjab is the land of an exciting culture and Punjabis are a hospitable people, in general.  Guru Nanak Dev founded the Sikh religion in the 15th Century, and it gained prominence in the region. Punjab, the land of five rivers, was divided between Pakistan and India in 1947.  The people of the state are hard working and take life as it comes. The Bhangra music and dance are an integral part of Punjabi culture.  Despite the amazing modernization, a strong sense of the past remains at places like Amritsar's Golden Temple the most revered place of worship for the Sikhs.

With the creation of Pakistan in 1947, Punjab was partitioned according to the prevalence of Muslim and the Hindu populations.  The western portion became a part of Pakistan.  The Eastern part stayed with India.  The Indian Punjab was divided into three different states on a linguistic basis on November 1st 1966.  The Hindi speaking areas formed the new state of Haryana, while the northernmost districts were transferred to Himachal Pradesh.  The remaining regions form the resent day Punjab.

Punjab is bounded on the west by Pakistan, on the north east by Himachal Pradesh and on the south by Haryana and Rajasthan.  Due to the presence of a large number of rivers, most of the land of Punjab is a fertile plain.
The South east region is semi-arid and Punjab’s arid Southern border edges the Thar Desert.  A belt of swelling hills extends along the north east at the foot of the Himalayas and the Shivalik range rises sharply in the north of the state. Searing summers, torrential monsoons and cool winters are the climatic conditions of this land. 

The name Punjab means “land of five rivers”.  It is derived from the Persian word Panj meaning five and aab meaning water.  The five rivers of the Punjab are the Beas, Chenab, Jhelum, Ravi and Sutlej.  These rivers begin as various small lakes in Himalayas.  The Beas merges into the Sutlej at Harike near Ferzepur in Punjab just before crossing the border into west Punjab or Pakistan, where it eventually merges into the river Indus.

The land between the Beas and Sutlej is called the Doaba.  Many important cities are located here the region between the Bees and Chenab river around the river Jhelum is pothohar.  Rachna Doab  is the name given to the land between  the Ravi and Chenab rivers, while east of the river Beas is the area known as Malwa.  This region gets its name from a cland called Molois or Malawis that once ruled this area. 

History

Punjab was the home of the Indus Valley Civilization.  Today's Punjab owes its origin to Banda Singh Bahadur wo freed parts of the region from Mughal rule in 1709-10.  However, the Mughals defeated and killed Banda Singh in 1716.  A Few decades later, the Sikhs established their dominance in the region. Ranji Singh made Punjab powerful kingdom and added the provinces of Multan, Kashmir, and Peshwar.  In 1849, Punjab passed into the hands of the British East India Company.  It later became a province of the British Empire.  At the time of independence in 1947, the province was divided between India and Pakistan.  The present day state of Punjab came into existence on November 1, 1966 when Punjab was divided on linguistic basis.  The Hindi-speaking parts were carved into a new state, called Haryana the northernmost districts were transferred to Himachal Pradesh.

Golden Temple

The holiest shrine of the Sikhs is the Golden temple at Amristar.  The location of the Golden temple was originally a small lake in a deep forest.  It has long been recognized as a place of spiritual significance.  It is said that Buddha spent some time there, and later the first Sikh Guru meditated at the lake.  The architecture of the Golden temple represents a unique harmony between Muslim and Hindu styles.

Geography

Punjab is largely a flat plain at an elevation of about 150m in the southwest to about 300m in the northeast. Geographically, it can be divided into three parts: The Shivalik Hills in the northeast, the zone of narrow, undulating foothills dissected by rivers terminating in the plains and the flat tract with fertile alluvial soils.  

Climate

Punjab has three major seasons. They are peak summer (April to June) with temperatures soaring as high as 45°C, the rainy season (July to September) and winter (October to March) with temperatures going down to 4°C.  The average annual rainfall in the state varies from 960mm in the submontane region to 580mm in the plains.

Flora and Fauna

Due to the rapid increase in human populations, trees have been replaced by bush vegetation in the Shivalik hills. Attempts at a forestation have been made on the hills with eucalyptus trees being planted along major roads.  The wildlife faces severe threats from human settlements and agriculture.

Punjab General Information

Capital
The capital of Punjab is Chandigarh.
Districts
There are 22 districts in this state.
Principal Languages
The languages spoken by this people are Punjabi.
State Bird
Eastern Goshawk was this state’s bird.
State Animal
This state’s animal is Black buck.
Major River
Ravi, Beas, Sutlej, Ghaggar with their numerous small, seasonal tributaries.

Bhakra Dam

India’s biggest Hydro electric project is this Bhakra Dam.  It is located near the border of Punjab with Himachal Pradesh.  The dam has been constructed across the perennial river Sutlej.  It flows down the Shivalik ranges that surrounded the region and it is an engineering marvel.  It is one of the highest gravity dams in the world.  It has created a huge reservoir known as the Gobind sagar reservoir.  This dam is virtually the central nervous system of northern India as it supplies electricity to the entire region.  

Pathankot

Pathankot takes pride in being the gateway to Jammu & Kashmir, and the hill stations of Dalhousie and Dharamshala in Himachal Pradesh.  The major tourist attractions here are the Shahpur Kandi, which is famous for a hanging rest house and the Ranjit Sagar Dam.  This s regarded as the highest gravity dam in Asia. Buses and taxis run to Amristar, Jammu, Chamba, Dalhousie, Dharmasala, Manali, Chandigarh and Delhi.  There are daily express train services between Amritsar and Delhi.

Festivals in Punjab

India has a tradition of festivals from time immemorial and almost every festival has its own flavor.  The festivals in Punjab always have always been celebrated with much ebullience and fanfare.  These festivals provide opportunities for social interaction and enjoyment. The important festivals in Punjab are:

Lohri

This festival marks the end of the chilly winter and is celebrated on the 13th day of January.  Men and women perform the bhangra and Giddda, the popular Punjabi folk dances, around a bonfire in the true spirit of their culture.  Lohri is also an auspicious occasion to celebrate the birth of a baby or a bride's arrival in her hubby's family.

Hola Mahalla

The Hola Mahalla at Anandpur Sahib welcomes the spring season. The Hola Mahalla is a thrilling spectacle celebrated on the day after Holi.  Martial arts like archery, sword fencing, horse riding and other martial arts are displayed by the Nihangs.

Basant Panchami

This is the most famous of the seasonal fairs and marks the advent of spring. At the time of Basant Panchami, fields of mustard bloom all over Punjab, and people dressed in yellow costumes celebrate.  Kite flying is a major attraction of Basant Panchami.

Rauza Sharif 'Urs'

The Rauza Sharif 'Urs' is celebrated on May 13 to honor the great Sufi Saint Sheikh Ahmad Farooqui Sirhindi.  People of all faiths pay homage at the shrine of Rauza Sharif near the Fatehgarh Sahib Gurdwara.

Gurupurabs

Gurupurabs celebrate the births and honor the martyrdom of Sikh Gurus.  The three major Gurupurabs are the birth anniversaries of Guru Nanak and Guru Gobind and the martyrdom of Guru Arjan Dev.  The birth anniversary of Guru Nanak is celebrated by devotes with great zeal on the full moon of Kartik.

Tourist Spots

Museums: The Maharaja Ranjit Singh Musuem, Sanghol Museum, Government Museum (Hoshiarpur), Rural Museum, Museum of Armoury & Chandeliers, Sports Museum and the Guru Teg Bahadur Musuem are main ones.

Pilgrim Centres: Amristar, Jalandhar, Kapurtala, Patiala, Bathinda city, Sirhind and Faridkot.

Forts: Anandpur Sahib Fort, Bhadurgarh fort, Bathinda fort, faridkot fort, Govindgarh fort, Phillaur fort and the Shahpur Kandi fort are the main ones.