Punjab, India

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This article is about the Indian state of Punjab. For other uses of the name, see Punjab (disambiguation).
State of India
Bottom to top: Harmandir Sahib, Qila Mubarak, Gandhi Bhavan, Wagah Border, Jallianwala Bagh Memorial
Official seal of Punjab

Nickname(s): Land of Five Rivers

(Persian: Punj- Five, Ab- Waters)
Location of Punjab in India
Location of Punjab in India
Map of Punjab
Map of Punjab
Coordinates (Chandigarh): 30°47′N 75°50′E / 30.79°N 75.84°E / 30.79; 75.84Coordinates: 30°47′N 75°50′E / 30.79°N 75.84°E / 30.79; 75.84
Country India
Region North India
Established 15 August 1947 (1947-08-15)
(As East Punjab)
Capital Chandigarh
Largest city Ludhiana
Districts 22
 • Governor Kaptan Singh Solanki[1]
 • Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal (SAD)
 • Legislature Unicameral (117 seats)
 • Parliamentary constituency 13
 • High Court Punjab and Haryana High Court
 • Total 50,362 km2 (19,445 sq mi)
Area rank 19th
Population (2011)[2]
 • Total 27,704,236
 • Density 550/km2 (1,400/sq mi)
 • Official Punjabi
Time zone IST (UTC+05:30)
ISO 3166 code IN-PB
HDI Increase 0.679 (medium)
HDI rank 9th (2005)
Literacy 76.68%
Website Punjab Govt

^† Joint Capital with Haryana

Symbols of Punjab
Emblem Lion Capital of Ashoka with Wheat stem (above) and Crossed Swords (below)
Language Punjabi
Dance Bhangra, Giddha
Animal Blackbuck
Bird Baaz[3]
Tree Tahli
River Indus
Sport Kabaddi (Circle Style)

Punjab (Listeni/pʌnˈɑːb/), also spelt Panjab, is a state in North India, forming part of the larger Punjab region. The state is bordered by the Indian states of Jammu and Kashmir to the north, Himachal Pradesh to the east, Haryana to the south and southeast, Rajasthan to the southwest, and the Pakistani province of Punjab to the west. The state capital is located in Chandigarh, a Union Territory and also the capital of the neighbouring state of Haryana. The summer residence of the Governor of Punjab is at Shimla.

After the partition of India in 1947, the Punjab province of British India was divided between India and Pakistan. The Indian Punjab was divided in 1966 with the formation of the new states of Haryana and Himachal Pradesh alongside the current state of Punjab.

Punjab is the only state in India with a majority Sikh population.[4]

The term Punjab comprises two words: "punj meaning five and ab meaning water, thus the land of five rivers."[5] The Greeks referred to Punjab as Pentapotamia, an inland delta of five converging rivers.[6] In Avesta, the sacred text of Zoroastrians, the Punjab region is associated with the ancient hapta həndu or Sapta Sindhu, the Land of Seven Rivers.[7]

Agriculture is the largest industry in Punjab.[8] Other major industries include the manufacturing of scientific instruments, agricultural goods, electrical goods, financial services, machine tools, textiles, sewing machines, sports goods, starch, tourism, fertilisers, bicycles, garments, and the processing of pine oil and sugar. Punjab also has the largest number of steel rolling mill plants in India, which are located in "Steel Town"—Mandi Gobindgarh in the Fatehgarh Sahib district.


The word Punjab is a xenonym and exonym from the Persian words panj (Persian: پنج‎‎) and Āb (Persian: آب‎‎), thus Panjāb means "Five Rivers", which roughly means "Land of Five Rivers".[9] The five rivers are the Sutlej, Beas, Ravi, Chenab and Jehlum (also spelled Jhelum). Traditionally, in English, there used to be a definite article before the name, i.e. "The Punjab".[10] The name is also sometimes spelled as "Panjab". The name Punjab was given to the region by Maharaja Ranjeet Singh.[11]


Main article: History of the Punjab

Ancient history[edit]

During the period when the epic Mahabharata was written around 800–400 BCE, Punjab was known as Trigarta and ruled by Katoch kings.[12][13] The Indus Valley Civilization spanned much of the Punjab region with cities such as Harappa (modern-day Punjab, Pakistan). The Vedic Civilization spread along the length of the Sarasvati River to cover most of Northern India including Punjab. This civilization shaped subsequent cultures in the Indian subcontinent. The Punjab region was conquered by many ancient empires including the Gandhara, Nandas, Mauryas, Sungas, Kushans, Guptas, Palas, Gurjara-Pratiharas and Hindu Shahis. The furthest eastern extent of Alexander the Great's exploration was along the Indus River. Agriculture flourished and trading cities such as Jalandhar ,Sangrur and Ludhiana grew in wealth.

Due to its location, the Punjab region came under constant attack and influence from both west and east. Punjab faced invasions by the Persians, Greeks, Scythians, Turks, and Afghans. This resulted in the Punjab witnessing centuries of bitter bloodshed. Its culture combines Hindu, Buddhist, Islamic, Afghan,[citation needed] Sikh and British influences.

The city of Taxila, founded by Takṣa, the son of Bharat, who in turn was the brother of the Hindu deity Rama, was reputed to house Takshashila University, the oldest university in the world.[14] One of its teachers was the great Vedic thinker and politician Chanakya. Taxila was a great centre of learning and intellectual discussion during the Maurya Empire. It is today a United Nations World Heritage site.

Sikhs in Punjab[edit]

The roots of Sikhism began at the time of the Conquest of Northern India by Babur. His grandson, Akbar, supported religious freedom and after visiting the langar of Guru Amar Das had a favourable impression of Sikhism. As a result of his visit he donated land to the langar and had a positive relationship with the Sikh Gurus until his death in 1605.[15] His successor, Jahangir, saw the Sikhs as a political threat. He arrested Guru Arjun Dev because of Sikh support for Khusrau Mirza[16] and ordered him to be put to death by torture. Guru Arjan Dev's martyrdom led to the sixth Guru, Guru Har Gobind, declaring Sikh sovereignty in the creation of the Akal Takht and the establishment of a fort to defend Amritsar.[17]

Jahangir attempted to assert authority over the Sikhs by imprisoning Guru Har Gobind at Gwalior. He felt compelled to release him when he began to suffer premonitions of an early and gruesome death. The Guru refused to be released unless the dozens of Hindu princes imprisoned with him were also granted freedom, to which Jahangir agreed. Sikhism did not have any further issues with the Mughal Empire until the death of Jahangir in 1627. His successor, Shah Jahan "took offense" at Guru Har Gobind's sovereignty and after a series of assaults on Amritsar forced the Sikhs to retreat to the Sivalik Hills.[17] Guru Har Gobind's successor, Guru Har Rai maintained the guruship in the Sivalik Hills by defeating local attempts to seize Sikh land and taking a neutral role in the power struggle between Aurangzeb and Dara Shikoh for control of the Timurid dynasty. The ninth Guru, Guru Tegh Bahadur, moved the Sikh community to Anandpur and traveled extensively to visit and preach in Sikh communities in defiance of Mughal rule. He aided Kashmiri Pandits in avoiding conversion to Islam and was arrested and confronted by Aurangzeb. When offered a choice between conversion or death, he chose to die rather than compromise his principles and was executed.[18] Guru Gobind Singh assumed the guruship in 1675 and to avoid battles with Sivalik Hill Rajas moved the guruship to Paunta. He built a large fort to protect the city and garrisoned an army to protect it. The growing power of the Sikh community alarmed Sivalik Hill Rajas, who attempted to attack the city, but the Guru's forces routed them at the Battle of Bhangani. He moved on to Anandpur and established the Khalsa, a collective army of baptised Sikhs, on 30 March 1699. The establishment of the Khalsa united the Sikh community against various Mughal-backed claimants to the guruship.[19]

In 1701, a combined army composed of the Sivalik Hill Rajas and the Mughal army under Wazir Khan attacked Anandpur and, following a retreat by the Khalsa, were defeated by the Khalsa at the Battle of Muktsar. Banda Singh Bahadur was an ascetic who converted to Sikhism after meeting Guru Gobind Singh at Nanded. A short time before his death, Guru Gobind Singh ordered him to uproot Mugal rule in Punjab and gave him a letter that commanded all Sikhs to join him. After two years of gaining supporters, Banda Singh Bahadur initiated an agrarian uprising by breaking up the large estates of Zamindar families and distributing the land to the poor Sikh, Hindu and Muslim peasants who farmed the land.[20] Banda Singh Bahadur started his rebellion with the defeat of Mughal armies at Samana and Sadhaura and the rebellion culminated in the defeat of Sirhind. During the rebellion, Banda Singh Bahadur made a point of destroying the cities in which Mughals had been cruel to Sikhs, including executing Wazir Khan in revenge for the deaths of Guru Gobind Singh's sons, Baba Zorawar Singh and Baba Fateh Singh after the Sikh victory at Sirhind.[21] He ruled the territory between the Sutlej river and the Yamuna river established a capital in the Himalayas at Lohgarh and struck coinage in the names of Guru Nanak and Guru Gobind Singh.[20]

Cis-Sutlej states[edit]

The Cis-Sutlej states were a group of states in modern Punjab and Haryana states lying between the Sutlej River on the north, the Himalayas on the east, the Yamuna River and Delhi District on the south, and Sirsa District on the west. These states were ruled by the Scindhia dynasty of the Maratha Empire, various Sikh sardars and other Rajas of the Cis-Sutlej states paid tributes to the Marathas, until the Second Anglo-Maratha War of 1803-1805, after which the Marathas lost this territory to the British.[22] The Cis-Sutlej states included Kaithal, Patiala, Jind, Thanesar, Maler Kotla, and Faridkot.

The Sikh Empire[edit]

Main article: Sikh Empire

The Sikh Empire (1801–1849) was formed on the foundations of the Punjabi Army by Maharaja Ranjit Singh. The empire extended from the Khyber Pass in the west, to Kashmir in the north, to Sindh in the south, and Tibet in the east. The main geographical footprint of the empire was the Punjab region. The religious demography of the Sikh Empire was Muslim (70%), Sikh (17%), Hindu (13%).[23]

The Sikh Empire began with the disbandment of the Punjab Army by the time of coronation of Ranjit Singh in 1801, creating a unified political state. All the Misl leaders who were affiliated with the Army were nobility with usually long and prestigious family histories in Punjab's history.[24][25]

After Ranjit Singh's death in 1839, the empire was severely weakened by internal divisions and political mismanagement. This opportunity was used by the British Empire to launch the Anglo-Sikh Wars. A series of betrayals of the Sikhs by some prominent leaders in the army led to its downfall. Maharaja Gulab Singh and Raja Dhian Singh were the top generals of the army.[26][27]

The Sikh Empire was finally dissolved, after a series of wars with the British at the end of the Second Anglo-Sikh War in 1849, into separate princely states and the British province of Punjab, which were granted statehood. Eventually, a Lieutenant Governorship was formed in Lahore as a direct representative of the British Crown.

Punjab Province (British India)[edit]

The Cis-Sutlej states, including Kaithal, Patiala, Jind, Thanesar, Maler Kotla, and Faridkot, were under the suzerainty of the Scindhia dynasty of the Maratha Empire, following the Second Anglo-Maratha War of 1803-1805, when Marathas lost this territory to the British. During the war, some of the states in the region gave their allegiance to British General Gerard Lake. At the conclusion of the Second Anglo-Maratha War, an 1809 agreement with Ranjit Singh, ruler of the Sikh Empire west of the Sutlej, brought these states under formal British protection.[22][28][29]

Ranjit Singh's death in the summer of 1839 brought political chaos, and the subsequent battles of succession and the bloody infighting between the factions at court weakened the state. By 1845 the British had moved 32,000 troops to the Sutlej frontier to secure their northernmost possessions against the succession struggles in the Punjab. In late 1845, British and Sikh troops engaged near Firozpur, beginning the First Anglo-Sikh War. The war ended the following year, and the territory between the Sutlej and the Beas was ceded to British Company rule in India, along with Kashmir, which was sold to Gulab Singh of Jammu, who ruled Kashmir as a British vassal.

As a condition of the peace treaty, some British troops, along with a resident political agent and other officials, were left in the Punjab to oversee the regency of Maharaja Dhalip Singh, a minor. The Sikh army was reduced greatly in size. In 1848, out-of-work Sikh troops in Multan revolted, and a British official was killed. Within a few months, the unrest had spread throughout the Punjab, and British troops once again invaded. The British prevailed in the Second Anglo-Sikh War, and under the Treaty of Lahore in 1849, the Punjab was annexed by the British East India Company, and Dhalip Singh was pensioned off. The Punjab became a province of British India, although a number of small states, most notably Patiala, Kapurthala, Faridkot, Nabha, and Jind, retained local rulers in subsidiary alliances with the British, with the rulers retaining their own internal sovereignty but recognizing British suzerainty.[30]

The Jallianwala Bagh Massacre of 1919 occurred in Amritsar. In 1930, the Indian National Congress proclaimed independence from Lahore. In March 1940, the all-India Muslim League passed the Lahore Resolution, demanding the creation of a separate state from Muslim majority areas in India. The ambiguity of the Lahore Resolution sparked violent protests, in which Punjab became a central stage.[31]

In 1946, massive communal tensions and violence erupted between the Punjab's Muslim majority and the Hindu and Sikh minorities. The Muslim League attacked the government of Unionist Punjabi Muslims, Sikh Akalis and the Congress and led to its downfall. Unwilling to be cowed down, Sikhs and Hindus counter-attacked, and the resulting bloodshed left the province in great disorder. Both Congress and League leaders agreed to partition Punjab upon religious lines, a precursor to the wider partition of the country.[32]

Independence and its aftermath[edit]

Rural Sikhs in a long ox-cart train headed towards India. 1947. Margaret Bourke-White.

In 1947 the Punjab Province of British India was partitioned along religious lines into West Punjab and East Punjab. Huge numbers of people were displaced, and there was much intercommunal violence. Following independence, several small Punjabi princely states, including Patiala, acceded to the Union of India and were united into the PEPSU. In 1956 this was integrated with the state of East Punjab to create a new, enlarged Indian state called simply "Punjab".

The undivided Punjab, of which Pakistani Punjab forms a major region today, was home to a large minority population of Punjabi Hindus and Sikhs until 1947, apart from the Muslim majority.[33]

Immediately following independence in 1947, and due to the ensuing communal violence and fear, most Sikhs and Punjabi Hindus who found themselves in Pakistan migrated to India as part of the exchange of populations.[34] Punjabi Muslims were uprooted similarly from their homes in East Punjab, which now forms part of India.[35] More than seven million moved to Pakistan, and over six million settled in Punjab.

In 1950, two new states were recognised by the Indian constitution: the Indian part of the former British province of Punjab became the state of East Punjab, while the princely states of the region were combined into the Patiala and East Punjab States Union (PEPSU). Himachal Pradesh was later created as a union territory from several princely states in the hills.

Formation of current Punjab[edit]

The capital city of the undivided Province of Punjab, Lahore, was allocated to the Pakistani West Punjab during the partition of British India in 1947, so a new capital for Indian Punjab was built at Chandigarh. Shimla was named temporary capital of the Punjab until Chandigarh was completed in 1960.

After years of protest by Akali Dal and other Sikh organisations finally Punjab was divided along linguistic basis in 1966. On 1 November 1966, the Hindi-speaking southern half of Punjab became a separate state, Haryana and the Pahari speaking hilly areas in north became Himachal Pradesh. Chandigarh was on the border between Punjab and Haryana and became a union territory that serves as the capital of both Punjab and Haryana. During the 1970s, the Green Revolution brought increased economic prosperity for the Punjab, mainly due to the late Pratap Singh Kairon. However, a growing polarisation between the Indian National Congress central government and the main Sikh political party, the Shiromani Akali Dal, developed during the 1970s. Hostility and bitterness arose from what was widely seen by the Akali Dal as increasing alienation, centralization and discriminatory attitudes towards Punjab by the Government of India. This prompted the Shiromani Akali Dal to pass the Anandpur Sahib Resolution, which asked for granting maximum autonomy to the region of Punjab and other states and limited role and powers of the Central Government.


Punjab is in northwestern India and has an area of 50,362 square kilometres (19,445 sq mi). It extends from the latitudes 29.30° North to 32.32° North and longitudes 73.55° East to 76.50° East. It is bounded on the west by Pakistan, on the north by Jammu and Kashmir, on the northeast by Himachal Pradesh and on the south by Haryana and Rajasthan.

Most of the Punjab lies in a fertile, alluvial plain with many rivers and an extensive irrigation canal system.[36] A belt of undulating hills extends along the northeastern part of the state at the foot of the Himalayas. Its average elevation is 300 metres (980 ft) above sea level, with a range from 180 metres (590 ft) in the southwest to more than 500 metres (1,600 ft) around the northeast border. The southwest of the state is semiarid, eventually merging into the Thar Desert. The Shiwalik Hills extend along the northeastern part of the state at the foot of the Himalayas.

The soil characteristics are influenced to a limited extent by the topography, vegetation and parent rock. The variation in soil profile characteristics are much more pronounced because of the regional climatic differences. Punjab is divided into three distinct regions on the basis of soil types: southwestern, central, and eastern.

Punjab falls under seismic zones II, III, and IV. Zone II is considered a low-damage risk zone; zone III is considered a moderate-damage risk zone; and zone IV is considered a high-damage risk zone.[37]


Agricultural fields of Punjab in Monsoon

The geographical and sub-tropical latitudinal location of Punjab makes large variation in temperature from month to month. Even though only limited region experience temperature below 0 degree C, ground frost is commonly found in majority of the areas in winter season. The temperature rises gradually with high presence of moisture and overcast sky. However, the rise in temperature is steep when sky is clear and moisture content is very less in air.[38]

The mid May and June months records the maximum temperature. The temperature remains above 40°C in the entire region during this period. Ludhiana recorded the highest maximum temperature at 46.1°C with Patiala and Amritsar recording 45.5° C. The maximum temperature during the summer months in Ludhiana remains above 41° C for a duration of one and a half months. These areas experience lowest temperature during the January month. The sun rays are oblique during these months and the cold winds control the rise temperature at day time.[38]

Punjab state experiences minimum temperature during December to February months. The lowest temperature was recorded at Amritsar (0.2° C) and Ludhiana stood second with 0.5°C. The minimum temperature of the region remains below 5°C for almost two months during the winter season. The highest minimum temperature of these regions in the June month is more than the day temperatures experienced in the Jan and Feb month. Ludhiana experiences minimum temperature above 27° C for more than two months. The annual average temperature in the entire state is approximately 21°C. Further, the mean monthly temperature range varies between 9°C in July to approximately 18°C in Nov month.[38]


Punjab state experiences three main seasons. They are:

  • Hot Season (mid-April to the end of June)
  • Rainy Season ( early July to the end of September)
  • Cold Season (early December to the end of February).[38]

Apart from these three main seasons, the state also experiences transitional seasons like:

  • Pre-summer season (Mar to mid of April): This is the period of transition between winter and summer season.
  • Post-monsoon season (Sep to Nov end). This is the period of transition between monsoon and winter season.[38]

Summer Season[edit]

The area starts experiencing mild hot temperature from February month. However, actual summer season commences from mid of April. The area experiences pressure variations during summer months. The atmospheric pressure of the region remains at 987 mili bars during February month and it touches 970 mili bars in June.[38]

Rainy Season[edit]

Monsoon brings joy to the agriculture field as it is the time when farmers become very busy. Monsoon in the state begins in first week of July and it is the monsoon currents generated in Bay of Bengal which brings rain in the region.[38]

Winter Season[edit]

Temperature variation is minimal in January month. The mean night and day temperature fall to 5°C and 12°C respectively. Winter season in northern part are blight for the poor who cannot arrange for protection against cold climate.[38]

Post-Monsoon Transitional Season[edit]

Monsoon begins to reduce by the second week of September. This brings in a gradual change in climate and temperature. The period between October and November is the transitional period between monsoon and winter seasons. Weather during this period is generally fair and dry.[38]

Post-Winter Transitional Season[edit]

The effect of winter season diminishes by the first week of March. Hot summer season commences from mid April. This period is marked by occasional showers with hail storm and squalls which causes extensive damage to crops. The winds remain dry and warm during the last week of March commencing the harvest period.[38]


  • Monsoon Rainfall

Monsoon season provides most of the rainfall for the region. Punjab region receives rainfall through the monsoon current of the Bay of Bengal. This monsoon current enters Punjab state through the south-east direction in the first week of Jul.[38]

  • Winter Rainfall

The winter season remains very cool with temperature going down below zero degree at some places. Winter season also brings in some western disturbances.[38]

The rainfall in winter season provides relief to the farmers as some of the winter crops in the region of Shivalik Hills are entirely dependent on this rainfall. As per the meteorological statistics, the sub-Shivalik area receives more than hundred mm rainfall in the winter months. [38]

Flora and fauna[edit]

Agriculture in Punjab India

The plains in the state of Punjab do not have any thick forests, the only available patches are of grass, small bush and shrubs. In the southern east part of state of Punjab and the areas of Hoshiarpur and Multan, the delicious mango fruit is grown. The other varieties of fruits that are grown in abundance here are orange, apple, fig, quince, almond, pomegranate, peach, mulberry, apricot and plum. The region that has major cultivation of rich flora and fauna can be majorly seen in the Shivalik ranges in the state of Punjab. Due to rich flora and fauna in the Shivalik region, it has been also termed as the zone of micro-endemic in India. The variety of angiosperms in the area includes 355 different types of herbs, trees of 70 different types; shrubs all in big and small sizes are of 70 different kinds, climbers of 19 different types can also be seen while 21 different types of twines can also be seen here. Other than angiosperms, other varieties available are 31 kinds of pteridophytes, bryophytes of 27 different kinds while a special species of gymnosperms named as Pinus Roxburghii can be seen in the ranges in state of Punjab. The fauna of the area is also rich that has birds of 396 different types, Lepidoptera is of 214 different kinds, 55 varieties of fish species can also be seen, reptiles of 20 different types are also available and mammals of 19 different kinds can be seen in these ranges. The state of Punjab is adored with large wetland area, number of bird sanctuaries that houses different varieties of numerous species of birds and a large number of zoological parks. Few of them to be named are wetland named as National wetland Hari-Ke-Pattan, the wetland of Kanjli, the wetlands of Kapurthala Sutlej, the number of wildlife sanctuaries include the Harika wildlife in district of Tarn Taran Sahib, Zoological Park in Ropar, Chhatbir Bansar Garden located in Sangrur Aam Khas Bagh situated in Sirhind, Amritsar’s famous Ram Bagh, Shalimar Garden in Kapurthala and the famous Baradari Garden in city of Patiala.[39]

Animals and Birds in Punjab[edit]

Few of the local rivers in Punjab also have the dangerous species of Crocodiles. The extraction of silk from silkworms is also another industry that flourishes in the state. Production of bee honey is also done in some parts of Punjab. The southern plains in Punjab is desert land hence camel can also be seen. Buffaloes can be seen grazing around the banks of river. The north eastern part has animals like horses. The desert area also has dangerous species of snakes like cobra and sangehur. The wild life sanctuaries have species of wild animals like otter, wild boar, wildcat, fruit bat, hog deer, flying fox, squirrel and mongoose. The natural formed forests can be seen in the Shivalik ranges of Punjab area in the districts like Ropar, Gurdaspur and Hoshiarpur. Patiala has the Bir forest while wetlands area in state of Punjab has the famous Mand forest.[40]

There are a number of botanical gardens spread in various areas of Punjab. There is also a zoological park and a tiger safari park. There are a total of 3 parks dedicated to deer.[40]

The state bird of Punjab is the baz (eastern goshawk)[41] (Melierax poliopterus), the state animal is the blackbuck (Antilope cervicapra), and the state tree is the shisham (Dalbergia sissoo).[36]

Government and politics[edit]

Each of the states of India possesses a parliamentary system of government, with a ceremonial state Governor, appointed by the President of India on the advice of the central government. The head of government is an indirectly elected Chief Minister who is vested with most of the executive powers. The state legislature, the Vidhan Sabha, is the unicameral Punjab Legislative Assembly, with 117 members elected from single-seat constituencies. The capital of Punjab is Chandigarh, which also serves as the capital of Haryana and is thus administered separately as a Union Territory of India. The judicial branch of the state government is provided by the Punjab and Haryana High Court in Chandigarh.[42] The current Government was elected in the 2012 Assembly elections as the coalition of SAD and the BJP won 68 out of 117 Assemble seats and Prakash Singh Badal of the Shiromani Akali Dal is the current Chief Minister.

The state of Punjab is divided into five administrative divisions and twenty-two districts:


Districts of Punjab along with their headquarters, till 2007

The area of Punjab can be divided into:

Administrative subdivisions[edit]

The state of Punjab has 22 districts which comprise sub-divisions, tehsils and blocks.

Fazilka and Pathankot were created in 2013 taking the total number of districts to 22.

Divisions: There are 5 divisions in Punjab. These are Patiala, Rupnagar, Jalandhar, Faridkot and Firozepur.

Tehsils : 82 (in 2015)

Sub tehsils : 87

Maur is the latest tehsil in district Bathinda. Zirakpur is the latest Sub-tehsil in district Mohali.

The state capital of Punjab is Chandigarh, a Union territory, which is shared with Haryana, being its capital too. There are 22 cities and 157 towns in Indian Punjab. The major cities are Ludhiana, Amritsar, Jalandhar, Patiala, Bathinda SAS Nagar (Mohali).


Burning of rice residues after harvest, to quickly prepare the land for wheat planting, around Sangrur, Punjab

Punjab is one of the most fertile regions in India. The region is ideal for wheat-growing. Rice, sugar cane, fruits and vegetables are also grown. Indian Punjab is called the "Granary of India" or "India's bread-basket".[43] It produces 10.26% of India's cotton, 19.5% of India's wheat, and 11% of India's rice. The Firozpur and Fazilka Districts are the largest producers of wheat and rice in the state. In worldwide terms, Indian Punjab produces 2% of the world's cotton, 2% of its wheat and 1% of its rice.[43] The largest cultivated crop is wheat. Other important crops are rice, cotton, sugarcane, pearl millet, maize, barley and fruit. Rice and wheat are doublecropped in Punjab with rice stalks being burned off over millions of acres prior to the planting of wheat. This widespread practice is polluting and wasteful.[44] In Punjab the consumption of fertiliser per hectare is 223.46 kg as compared to 90 kg nationally. The state has been awarded the National Productivity Award for agriculture extension services for ten years from 1991–92 to 1998–99 and from 2001 to 2003–04. In recent years a drop in productivity has been observed mainly due to falling fertility of the soil. This is believed to be due to excessive use of fertilisers and pesticides over the years. Another worry is the rapidly falling water table on which almost 90% of the agriculture depends; alarming drops have been witnessed in recent years. By some estimates, groundwater is falling by a meter or more per year.[45][46]

According to the India State Hunger Index, Punjab has the lowest level of hunger in India.[47]


Public transport in Punjab is provided by buses, auto rickshaws, Indian railways and an international rail connection to Pakistan (Samjhauta Express). The state has a large network of multimodal transportation system:


Punjab has five civil airports. The Sri Guru Ram Dass Jee International Airport in Amritsar is the largest and most important airport in the state and is also the second busiest in North India after Delhi Airport. Chandigarh International Airport is the second international airport in Punjab.

Other airports in Punjab are:


Almost all the major as well as smaller cities of the state are linked by railways. Amritsar is the largest railway station having trains connecting to all major cities. The Shatabdi Express connects Amritsar to Delhi. The railway junction in Bhatinda is the largest in Asia.The Shatabdi Express connects New Delhi to Bathinda.,[48]

A DMU Train in Ludhiana

Ludhiana Metro is a proposed rapid transit system for the metropolitan city of Ludhiana.

The Samjhauta Express is a joint venture between Indian Railways and Pakistan Railways and runs from Attari railway station near Amritsar in India to Lahore Railway Station in Punjab, Pakistan.


All the cities and towns of Punjab are connected by four-lane national highways. The Grand Trunk Road, also known as "NH1" connects Kolkata to Peshawar passing through Jalandhar and Amritsar. Another major national highway connects Punjab to Jammu passing through Hoshiarpur and Pathankot. National highways passing through the state are ranked the best in the country[who?] with widespread road networks that serve isolated towns as well as the border region. Ludhiana and Amritsar cities among several Indian cities have highest accident rate in India.[49]

There are also the bus rapid transit systems like Amritsar BRTS and Ludhiana BRTS in cities of Amritsar and Ludhiana respectively.[50]

The following national highways connect major towns, cities and villages:

National Highway 1 (India), National Highway 10 (India), National Highway 15 (India), National Highway 1A (India) National Highway 20 (India), National Highway 21 (India), National Highway 22 (India), National Highway 64 (India), National Highway 70 (India), National Highway 71 (India), National Highway 95 (India).


According to the 2011 Indian Census, the population of Indian Punjab is 27,704,236 (males 14,634,819 & females 13,069,417)[53] The literacy rate in Punjab is 75%, male literacy being 80.23% and female literacy 68.36%.

List of major cities population in Punjab are :-[54]

1. Ludhiana, population of 1,613,878.

2. Amritsar, population of 1,183,761.

3. Jalandhar, population of 873,725.

4. Bathinda, population of 459,786.

5. Patiala, population of 404,686.

The sex ratio of Punjab was 895 females per 1000 males (2011 census). On account of female foeticide, Punjab has the second lowest sex ratio amongst all Indian states. Being an agricultural state, a large part of the population lives in the rural area. Roughly 66% of the people live in rural areas while the rest of the 34% are urban residents.[55]

Punjab has highest dalit population in India which is 31.9%[56] including both Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes. The scheduled caste population is 28.9%, the highest percentage of any Indian state.[57] Districts with high dalit population are Ferozepur (42 percent of dalits), Nawanshahr (40 per cent), Jalandhar and Muktsar ( 38 per cent), Faridkot (36 per cent), Tarn Taran (32 percent) and Kapurthala (30 per cent).[58] According to Socio Economic and Caste Census 2011, Punjab has 36.74% of scheduled caste households, which is highest in India but scheduled castes get only about 24% of resevation. Punjab also has highest percentage of landless households, about 45.34% which are earning their income from manual casual labour.[59]


Located in Amritsar, Harmandir Sahib is the holiest shrine of Sikhism.

Circle frame.svg

Religion in Punjab, India (2011)

  Sikhism (60.69%)
  Hinduism (36.49%)
  Islam (1.93%)
  Christianity (1.25%)
  Other or not religious (0.64%)

Sikhism is the predominant faith in Punjab, adhered to by more than 60% of the populace.[60] The holiest of Sikh shrines, the Sri Harmandir Sahib (or Golden Temple), is in the city of Amritsar and the city also houses the SGPC, the top most Sikh religious body. The Sri Akal Takht Sahib, which is within the Golden Temple complex, is the highest temporal seat of Sikhs. Of the five Takhts (Temporal Seats of religious authority) of Sikhism, three are in Punjab. These are Sri Akal Takht Sahib, Damdama Sahib and Anandpur Sahib. During major holidays on the Sikh calendar (such as Vaisakhi, Hola Mohalla, Gurpurb and Diwali), many Sikhs gather and march in processions through virtually every city, town and village. At least one Sikh Gurdwara can be found in almost every village in the state, as well as in the towns and cities (in various architectural styles and sizes). 2001 census percentage of Sikh population in Punjab was 59.9% and it declined to 57.69% in 2011 census.[61]

Hinduism is the second most practised faith in Punjab, forming 38.5% of the population.[60] A large segment of Punjabis who are categorised as Punjabi Hindus continue heterogeneous religious practices with spiritual kinship with Sikhism. This not only includes veneration of the Sikh Gurus in private practice but also visits to Sikh Gurdwaras along with Hindu temples.

Muslims form 1.93% of the population and are concentrated in Malerkotla, the only city in Indian Punjab with a Muslim majority and also urban centre of Ludhiana.

Other religions such as Christianity (1.2%) are also followed, as well as Buddhism (0.12%) and Jainism (0.16%).


The Punjabi language, written in the Gurmukhi script, is the official language of the state.[62] Punjabi is the ninth most spoken language in the world and fourth most spoken language in Asia.[63]


The National Institute of Pharmaceutical Education and Research

Primary and Secondary education is mainly affiliated to Punjab School Education Board. Punjab is served by several institutions of higher education, including 32 universities which provide undergraduate and postgraduate courses in all the major arts, humanities, science, engineering, law, medicine, veterinary science, and business. Punjab Agricultural University is a leading institution globally for the study of agriculture and played a significant role in Punjab's Green Revolution in the 1960s–70s. Alumni of the Panjab University, Chandigarh include Manmohan Singh, the former Prime Minister of India, and Dr. Har Gobind Khorana, a biochemistry nobel laureate. One of the oldest institutions of medical education is the Christian Medical College, Ludhiana, which has existed since 1894.[64] There is an existing gap in education between men and women, particularly in rural areas of Punjab. Of a total of 1 million 300 thousand students enrolled in grades five to eight, only 44% are women.[65]


Punjab has total 23 universities from which 10 are private universities, 9 are state universities, 1 is Central and 3 are deemed universities. Punjab has 1.04 lakh engineering seats.[66]



Deemed public universities[edit]


Thapar University

Autonomous colleges in Punjab[edit]

Many colleges of Punjab have been granted autonomous status by UGC.

Medical Colleges[edit]

Reputed colleges (technical and professional)[edit]

Other institutes of repute (general)[edit]


Daily Ajit, Jagbani, Punjabi Tribune and The Tribune are the largest-selling Punjabi and English newspapers respectively. A vast number of weekly, biweekly and monthly magazines are under publication in Punjabi. Other main newspapers are Daily Punjab Times, Rozana Spokesman, Nawan Zamana etc.

Doordarshan is the broadcaster of the Government of India and its channel DD Punjabi is dedicated to Punjabi. Prominent Punjabi channels include Day & Night News, GET Punjabi, Zee Punjabi, Zee ETC Punjabi, Chardikla Time TV, PTC Punjabi, JUS Punjabi, ABP Sanjha,[75] MH1 and 9x Tashan.

Punjab has witnessed a growth in FM radio channels, mainly in the cities of Jalandhar, Patiala and Amritsar, which has become hugely popular. There are govt. radio channels like All India Radio, Jalandhar, All India Radio, Bathinda and FM Gold Ludhiana.[76] Private radio channels include Radio Mirchi, BIG FM 92.7, 94.3 My FM, Radio Mantra and many more.

Digital library[edit]

Launched in 2003 under Nanakshahi Trust, the Punjab Digital Library was a result of the early phase of the digital revolution in Punjab. While most saw the Nanakshahi as a small digitisation organisation, or as an assemblage of some unknown youth working towards capturing some manuscripts on their digital cameras, its founders saw it as a cornerstone of a fundamentally new approach to preserving Punjab’s heritage for future generations. In the shadow of search engines, a Semantic Web approach conceived in the early 2003 reached maturity in 2006. This was when the organization planned to expand its operations from a mere three-employee organization to one of the leading NGO’s working in the field of digital preservation all over India.[77][78]

Digitised collections include manuscripts held by the Punjab Languages Department, items from the Government Museum and Art Gallery, Chandigarh, Chief Khalsa Diwan, SGPC, DSGMC and manuscripts in the Jawahr Lal Nehru Library of Kurukshetra University. Hundreds of personal collections are also included. With over 5 million pages digitised, it is the biggest repository of digital data on Punjab.


Women at cultural event

The culture of Punjab has many elements including music such as bhangra, an extensive religious and non-religious dance tradition, a long history of poetry in the Punjabi language, a significant Punjabi film industry which dates back to before Partition, a vast range of cuisine which has become widely popular abroad, and a number of seasonal and harvest festivals such as Lohri,[79] Basant, Vaisakhi and Teeyan,[80][81][82] all of which are celebrated in addition to the religious festivals of India.

Women using Charkha

A kissa is a Punjabi language oral story-telling tradition that has a mixture of origins ranging from the Arabian peninsula to Iran and Afghanistan.[83]

Punjabi jutti

Punjabi wedding traditions and ceremonies are a strong reflection of Punjabi culture. Marriage ceremonies are known for their rich rituals, songs, dances, food and dresses, which have evolved over many centuries.[84][85]


Main article: Folk dances of Punjab

Bhangra (Punjabi: ਭੰਗੜਾ (Gurmukhi),; pronounced [pɑ̀ŋɡɾɑ̀ː]) and Giddha are forms of dance and music that originated in the Punjab region.[86] Bhangra dance began as a folk dance conducted by Punjabi farmers to celebrate the coming of the harvest season. The specific moves of Bhangra reflect the manner in which villagers farmed their land. This hybrid dance became Bhangra. The folk dance has been popularised in the western world by Punjabis in England, Canada and the USA where competitions are held.[87] It is seen in the West as an expression of South Asian culture as a whole.[88] Today, Bhangra dance survives in different forms and styles all over the globe – including pop music, film soundtracks, collegiate competitions and cultural shows.

Punjabi folklore[edit]

The folk heritage of the Punjab reflects its thousands of years of history. While Majhi and Doabi are considered to be the standard dialect of Punjabi language, there are a number of local dialects through which the people communicate. These include Malwai and Pwadhi. The songs, ballads, epics and romances are generally written and sung in these dialects.

There are a number of folk tales that are popular in Punjab. These are the folk tales of Mirza Sahiban, Heer Ranjha, Sohni Mahiwal, Sassi Punnun, Jagga Jatt, Dulla Bhatti, Puran Bhagat, Jeona Maud etc. The mystic folk songs and religious songs include the Shalooks of Sikh gurus, Baba Farid and others. They also include Kafis, Hamds, Baits, Dohas, Lohris, Sehra, and Jugni.[89]

The most famous of the romantic love songs are Mayhiah, Dhola and Boliyan. Punjabi romantic dances include Dhamaal, Bhangra, Giddha, Dhola, and Sammi and some other local folk dances.


Most early Punjabi literary works are in verse form, with prose not becoming more common until later periods. Throughout its history, Punjabi literature has sought to inform and inspire, educate and entertain. The Punjabi language is written in several different scripts, of which the Shahmukhi, the Gurmukhī scripts are the most commonly used.


Bhangra Dance

Punjabi Folk Music is the traditional music on the traditional musical instruments of Punjab region.[90][91][92] There is a great repertoire of music from the time of birth through the different stages of joy and sorrow till death. The folk music invokes the traditions as well as the hardworking nature, bravery and many more things that the people of Punjab get from its gateway-to-India geographical location. Due to the large area with many sub-regions, the folk music has minor lingual differences but invokes the same feelings.

Bhangra music of Punjab is famous throughout the world.[93][94]

Punjabi music has a diverse style of music, ranging from folk and Sufi to classical, notably the Punjab gharana and Patiala gharana.[95][96]

Film industry[edit]

Punjab is also home to the Punjabi film industry, often colloquially referred to as 'Pollywood'.[97] It is known for being the fastest growing film industry in India. It is based mainly around Chandigarh city.[98][99] The first Punjabi film was made in 1936. Since the 2000s Punjabi cinema has seen a revival with more releases every year with bigger budgets, homegrown stars, and Bollywood actors of Punjabi descent taking part.[100]


Main articles: Punjabi cuisine and Punjabi dhabha
Veg Punjabi Thaali

One of the main features of Punjabi cuisine is its diverse range of dishes.[101][102] Home cooked and restaurant cuisine sometimes vary in taste. Restaurant style uses large amounts of ghee. Some food items are eaten on a daily basis while some delicacies are cooked only on special occasions.

Within the Punjab region, there are different preferences in terms of use of spices and cooking methods. Also many varieties of ingredients exist as well. People in villages tend to cook much stuff in animal fats compared to the residents in the cities. Also there are many regional dishes that are famous in some regions only. Many dishes are exclusive to Punjab, such as sarson da saag, Tandoori chicken, Shami kebab, makki di roti etc.[103] to name a few. Tandoori food is a Punjabi specialty especially for non-vegetarian dishes. Before the 1947 partition, tandoori cooking in India was traditionally associated with the former undivided Punjab. Many of the most popular elements of Indian cuisine as it is marketed to non-Indian customers (such as tandoor, naan, pakoras and vegetable dishes with paneer) is derived from Punjab.

Festivals and traditions[edit]

Punjabis celebrate a number of festivals which have taken a semi secular meaning and are regarded as cultural festivals by people of all religions. Some of the festivals are Bandi Chhor Divas(Diwali),[104][105] Mela Maghi,[106] Hola Mohalla,[107][108] Rakhri, Vaisakhi, Lohri, Teeyan and Basant.


Kabbadi (Circle Style), a team contact sport originated in rural Punjab is recognised as the state game.[109][110] Field hockey is also most popular sport in the state.[111] Kila Raipur Sports Festival, popularly known as the Rural Olympics, is held annually in Kila Raipur (near Ludhiana). Competition is held for major Punjabi rural sports, include cart-race, rope pulling. Punjab government organises World Kabaddi League,[112][113] Punjab Games and annual Kabaddi World Cup for Circle Style Kabbadi in which teams from countries like Argentina, Canada, Denmark, England, India, Iran, Kenya, Pakistan, Scotland, Sierra Leone, Spain and United States participated.

PCA Stadium under lights at Ajitgarh

Punjab also have many magnificent stadiums like Guru Gobind Singh Stadium, Guru Nanak Stadium, Punjab Cricket Association IS Bindra Stadium, International Hockey Stadium, Gandhi Sports Complex Ground and Surjit Hockey Stadium.


Harmandir Sahib in Amritsar is a major tourist destination in Punjab

Tourism in Indian Punjab centres around the historic palaces, battle sites, and the great Sikh architecture of the state and the surrounding region.[114] Examples include various sites of the Indus Valley Civilization, the ancient fort of Bathinda, the architectural monuments of Kapurthala, Patiala, and Chandigarh, the modern capital designed by Le Corbusier.[115] The Golden Temple in Amritsar is one of the major tourist destinations of Punjab and indeed India, attracting more visitors than the Taj Mahal, Lonely Planet Bluelist 2008 has voted the Harmandir Sahib as one of the world’s best spiritual sites.[116] Moreover, there is a rapidly expanding array of international hotels in the holy city that can be booked for overnight stays. Another main tourist destination is religious and historic city of Sri Anandpur Sahib where large number of tourists come to see the Virasat-e-Khalsa (Khalsa Heritage Memorial Complex) and also take part in Hola Mohalla festival. Kila Raipur Sports Festival is also popular tourist attraction in Kila Raipur near Ludhiana.[117][118][119] Shahpur kandi fort, Ranjit sagar lake and Muktsar Temple also popular attractions in Pathankot.

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Further reading[edit]

  • Radhika Chopra. Militant and Migrant: The Politics and Social History of Punjab (2011)
  • Harnik Deol. Religion and Nationalism in India: The Case of the Punjab (Routledge Studies in the Modern History of Asia) (2000)
  • Harjinder Singh Dilgeer, Encyclopedia of Jalandhar, Sikh University Press, Brussels, Belgium (2005)
  • Harjinder Singh Dilgeer, SIKH HISTORY in 10 volumes, Sikh University Press, Brussels, Belgium (2010–11)
  • J. S. Grewal. The Sikhs of the Punjab (The New Cambridge History of India) (1998)
  • J. S. Grewal. Social and Cultural History of the Punjab: Prehistoric, Ancient and Early Medieval (2004)
  • Nazer Singh. Delhi and Punjab: Essays in history and historiography (1995)
  • Tai Yong Tan. The Garrison State: Military, Government and Society in Colonial Punjab, 1849–1947 (Sage Series in Modern Indian History) (2005)
Primary sources
  • J. C. Aggarwal and S. P. Agrawal, eds. Modern History of Punjab: Relevant Select Documents (1992)
  • R. M. Chopra, " The Legacy of The Punjab ", 1997, Punjabee Bradree, Calcutta.

External links[edit]