Punjab Province (British India)

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This article is about a historical region in British India. For other uses of the name, see Punjab (disambiguation).

2 April 1849–1947




Coat of arms of Punjab

Coat of arms

Location of Punjab
Map of British Punjab 1909
Capital Lahore
* Murree 1873-1875 (Summer)
* Shimla 1876-1947 (Summer)
Historical era New Imperialism
 -  Established 2 April 1849
 -  Partition of India 14-15 August 1947
Today part of  India

Punjab, also spelled Panjab, was a province of British India. It was annexed by the East India Company in 1849, and was one of the last areas of the Indian subcontinent to fall under British control. It comprised five administrative divisions — Delhi, Jullunder, Lahore, Multan and Rawalpindi — and a number of princely states.

The partition of India led to the province being divided into East Punjab and West Punjab, belonging to the newly created Union of India and Dominion of Pakistan respectively.


The Punjab is named for the five rivers by which it is watered, from the Persian words "Punj" (five) and "Ab" (water). The rivers are Jhelum, Chenab, Ravi, Beas and Sutlej, all tributaries of the Indus.


Geographically, the Punjab province of India was a triangular tract of country of which the Indus River and its tributary the the Sutlej formed the two sides up to their confluence, the base of the triangle in the north being the lower Himalaya hills between those two rivers. However, the province as constituted under British rule also included a large tract outside those boundaries. Along the northern border, Himalayan ranges divided it from Kashmir and Tibet. On the west it was separated from the North-West Frontier Province by the Indus, until that river reaches the border of Dera Ghazi Khan District, which was divided from Baluchistan by the Sulaiman Range. To the south lay Sindh and Rajputana, while on the east the rivers Jumna and Tons separated it from the United Provinces.[1]

In present-day India, it included the regions of Punjab, Haryana, Chandigarh, Delhi, and Himachal Pradesh (but excluding the former princely states which were later combined into the Patiala and East Punjab States Union)

In present-day Pakistan, it included the regions of Punjab, Islamabad Capital Territory and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (until 1901)


On 21 February 1849 the Sikhs were defeated at the Battle of Gujrat by the British. Britain's victory allowed the East India Company to take over the Punjab. Punjab was annexed on 2 April 1849 and became part of the British Raj, at this time administered by the Company. Henceforth the Punjab would provide Sikh and Punjabi sepoy regiments to the presidency armies in India, whose soldiers would later help the British in putting down the Sepoy Mutiny in 1857.

The Panjab in 1880

By the late 19th century, however, the Indian nationalist movement took hold in the province. One of the most significant events associated with the movement was the Jallianwala Bagh massacre in 1919, which resulted from an order given by British colonel Reginald Dyer to fire on a group of some 10,000 unarmed Indians who had convened to protest new anti-subversion regulations.[2]

In 1901 the frontier districts beyond the Indus were separated from Punjab and made into a new province - the North-West Frontier Province.


The Durbar, or assembly of native princes and nobles, convened by Sir John Lawrence at Lahore

Delhi was transferred from the North-Western Provinces (later the United Provinces) to Punjab in 1859. The British colonial government took this action partly to punish the city for the important role that the last Mughal Emperor and the city as a whole played in the 1857 Sepoy Rebellion.[3] In 1849[4]Lord Dalhousie constituted the Board of Administration by inducting into it the most experienced and seasoned British officers. The members were[5]Sir Henry Lawrence, who had already worked as British Resident at Lahore Darbar Before[6]Second Anglo-Sikh War of 1848-49 A.D.[7] Sir John Lawrence, then Chief Commissioner being appointed the first Lieutenant-Governor on January 1, 1859 *(In this office, he was succeeded by Sir Robert Montgomery (1859)), Sir Donald McLeod(1865), Sir Henry Durand (1870), Sir Henry Davies (1871), Sir Robert Egerton (1877), Sir Charles Aitchison (1882), Sir James Lyall (1887), Sir Dennis Fitzpatrick (1892), Sir Macworth Young (1897), Sir Charles Rivaz (1902), Sir Denzil Ibbetson (1907) and Sir Louis Dane (1908).[7]

In 1866, the Judicial Commissioner was replaced by a Chief Court. The direct administrative functions of the Government were carried out through the Lieutinent-Governor through the Secretariat, comprising a Chief Secretary, a Secretary and two Under-Secretaries. They were usually members of the Indian Civil Service.[7]

The territory under the Lieutenant consisted of 29 Districts, grouped under 5 Divisions, and 43 Princely States. Each District was under a Deputy-Commissioner, who reported to the Commissioner of the Division. Each District was subdivided into 3 to 7 tahsils, each under a tahsildar, assisted by a naib (deputy) tahsildar.[8]

Punjab (British India): British Territory and Princely States
Division Districts in British Territory / Princely States
Delhi Division
Jullunder Division
Lahore Division
Rawalpindi Division
Multan Division
Total area, British Territory 97,209 square miles
Native States
Total area, Native States 36,532 square miles
Total area, Punjab 133,741 square miles

Lyallpur and Sheikhupura districts.

Coat of arms[edit]

Arms of British Punjab.jpg

Crescat e Fluviis was the motto used in the Coat of arms for Punjab Province, British India. The language used is Latin.


As per the book History of the Sikhs written by Khushwant Singh, it means Strength from the Rivers. As per the English translation from Google Translate, it means Grow out of the river.

See also[edit]


External links[edit]