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Punjab, India

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Golden Temple, Amritsar, Punjab UNAG.jpg
Panorama of Jallianwala Bagh-IMG 6348 (cropped).jpg
Fateh Burj , Banda Singh Baahadur memorial ,Chapadchidi, Punjab ,India.jpg
Punjabi Dance - Opening Ceremony - Wiki Conference India - CGC - Mohali 2016-08-05 6405.JPG
Zamzama - Front View- Gobindgarh Fort, Amritsar.jpg
Nurmahal Sarai Mughal Heritage Punjab India.JPG
Qila Mubarak, Patiala (Cropped).jpg
Partition Museum, Amritsar.jpg
Etymology: Panj (means five) and āb" (means waters)
Location of Punjab in India
Location of Punjab in India
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
Largest cityLudhiana
 • BodyGovernment of Punjab
 • GovernorBanwarilal Purohit
 • Chief MinisterBhagwant Mann (AAP)
 • LegislatureUnicameral (117 seats)
 • Parliamentary constituencyLok Sabha (13 seats)
Rajya Sabha (7 seats)
 • High CourtPunjab and Haryana High Court††
 • Total50,362 km2 (19,445 sq mi)
 • Rank19th out of 28 states
Highest elevation
551 m (1,808 ft)
Lowest elevation
150 m (490 ft)
 • Total27,743,338
 • Rank16th
 • Density550/km2 (1,400/sq mi)
GDP (2020–21)
 • Total5.42 trillion (US$68 billion)
 • Per capita151,367 (US$1,900)
Time zoneUTC+05:30 (IST)
ISO 3166 codeIN-PB
HDI (2019)Increase 0.724 (High)[3] · 9th
Literacy (2011)76.68%
Official languagePunjabi[4]
Symbols of Punjab
EmblemEmblem of Punjab (Lion Capital of Ashoka with Wheat stem (above) and Crossed Swords (below))
DanceBhangra, Giddha
Antilope cervicapra from velavadar.JPG
Indus river dolphin (Platanista minor)
Northern Goshawk ad M2.jpg
Baaz[5] (Accipiter gentilis)
Gladiolus (Gladiolus grandiflorus)
Dalbergia sissoo.jpg
Sheesham (Dalbergia sissoo)
^† Joint Capital with Haryana.
††Common for Punjab, Haryana and Chandigarh.

Punjab (/pʌnˈɑːb/ (listen);[6] Punjabi: [pənˈdʒɑːb]) is a state in northern India. Forming part of the larger Punjab region of the Indian subcontinent, the state is bordered by the Indian states of Himachal Pradesh to the north and northeast, Haryana to the south and southeast, and Rajasthan to the southwest; by the Indian union territories of Chandigarh to the east and Jammu and Kashmir to the north. It shares an international border with Punjab, a province of Pakistan to the west.[7] The state covers an area of 50,362 square kilometres (19,445 square miles), which is 1.53% of India's total geographical area,[8] making it the 19th-largest Indian state by area out of 28 Indian states (20th largest, if UTs are considered). With over 27 million inhabitants, Punjab is the 16th-largest Indian state by population, comprising 23 districts.[1] Punjabi, written in the Gurmukhi script, is the most widely spoken and the official language of the state.[9] The main ethnic groups are the Punjabis, with Sikhs and Hindus as the dominant religious groups.[10] The state capital is Chandigarh, a union territory and also the capital of the neighbouring state of Haryana. The five tributary rivers of the Indus River from which the region takes its name are the Sutlej, the Beas, the Ravi, the Chenab and the Jhelum. Of these, the first three flow through Indian Punjab,[11] while the latter two flow entirely through Punjab, Pakistan.

The history of Punjab has witnessed the migration and settlement of different tribes of people with different cultures and ideas, forming a melting pot of Punjabi civilisation. The Indus Valley civilization flourished in antiquity before recorded history until their decline around 1900 BCE.[12] Punjab was enriched during the height of the Vedic period, but declined in predominance with the rise of the Mahajanapadas.[13] The region formed the frontier of initial empires during antiquity including the Alexander's and Maurya empires.[14][15] It was subsequently conquered by the Kushan Empire, Gupta Empire,[16] and then Harsha's Empire.[17] Punjab continued to be settled by nomadic people; including the Huna, Turkic and the Mongols. Circa 1000 CE, the Punjab came under the rule of Muslims[18] and was part of the Delhi Sultanate, Mughal Empire, and Durrani Empire.[19] Sikhism was founded in the 15th to 17th centuries by the Sikh Gurus in the Punjab and resulted in the formation of the Sikh Confederacy after the fall of the Mughal Empire and ensuing conflict with the Durrani Empire.[20] This confederacy was united into the Sikh Empire in 1801 by Maharaja Ranjit Singh.[21]

The greater Punjab region was annexed by the British East India Company from the Sikh Empire in 1849.[22] Following widespread religious violence in 1947, the Punjab Province of British India was divided along religious lines into West Punjab and East Punjab.[23] The West Punjab became part of a Muslim-majority Pakistan, while the East Punjab became part of a Hindu-majority India. After the Punjabi Suba movement, the Indian Punjab and PEPSU were divided into three parts on the basis of language on 1 November 1966.[24] Haryanvi and Hindi speaking areas (including various dialects) were carved out as Haryana, while the hilly regions and Pahari-speaking areas formed Himachal Pradesh, alongside the current state of Punjab. An insurgency occurred in Punjab during the 1980s.[25] At present, the economy of Punjab is the 15th-largest state economy in India with 5.29 trillion (US$66 billion) in gross domestic product and a per capita GDP of 151,367 (US$1,900), ranking 17th amongst Indian states.[2] Since independence, Punjab is predominantly an agrarian society. It is the ninth-highest ranking among Indian states in human development index.[3] Punjab has bustling tourism, music, culinary, and film industries.[26]



1,500 years old Bathinda Fort, pictured in 1906

Hinduism in Punjab[edit]

Hinduism has existed in the Punjab region since the period of ancient India. During the period when the epic Mahabharata was composed, around 800–400 BCE, Punjab was known as Trigarta and ruled by Katoch kings.[27][28] The Indus Valley civilization spanned much of the Punjab region with cities such as Ropar. The Vedic Civilization spread along the length of the Sarasvati River to cover most of northern India including Punjab, and this gave way for the formation and synthesization of Hinduism.

Hinduism in Punjab, as in many other parts of India, has adapted over time and has become a synthesis of culture and history. Hindus believe in using Dharma to purify the soul (Atman) and to connect with a greater "eternal energy" (Paramātmā). In Punjab, like in many other regions of Northern India, Hindus revere ancient texts that narrate stories of deities (Devas and Devis) that had reached their highest Paramātmā. Deities in Hinduism are honoured for their roles in ancient Indian history, as they were the upholders of the principles of Dharma in the past. Hindus believe that Ishvara Bhagavan manifests itself through these Devas and Devis. Major deities worshiped include Rama and Sita from the Ramayana, Krishna and Radha from the Mahabharata, the Trimurti and Tridevi of Shiva and Parvati, Vishnu and Lakshmi, and Brahma and Sarasvati, along with other prominent deities such as Durga, Ganesha, and Hanuman.

As Hindus believe that Dharma is universal and evolves with time, many Hindus also value other spiritual paths and religious traditions. They believe that any traditions that are equally able to nurture one's Atman should be accepted and taught. Hinduism itself encourages any being to reach their own self-realization either through Bhagavan or through other means of devotion and meditation.

Sikhs in Punjab[edit]

Sikhism originated in the Punjab region during the 15th century. Approximately 75% of the total Sikh population of the world lives in Punjab. 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.[29] His successor, Jahangir, saw the Sikhs as a political threat. He arrested Guru Arjun Dev because of Sikh support for Khusrau Mirza[30] and ordered him put to death by torture. Guru Arjan Dev's martyrdom led to the sixth Guru, Guru Hargobind, declaring Sikh sovereignty in the creation of the Akal Takht and the establishment of a fort to defend Amritsar.[31]

Jahangir attempted to assert authority over the Sikhs by imprisoning Guru Hargobind 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 Jahangir's death in 1627. His successor, Shah Jahan, "took offense" at Guru Hargobind's sovereignty and after a series of assaults on Amritsar forced the Sikhs to retreat to the Sivalik Hills.[31] Guru Hargobind'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 travelled extensively to visit and preach in Sikh communities in defiance of Mughal rule. He aided Kashmiri Hindus in avoiding conversion to Islam and was arrested and confronted by Aurangzeb. When offered a choice between conversion or death, he chose to die and was executed.[32]

A rare Tanjore style painting from the late 19th century depicting the ten Sikh Gurus and Bhai Bala and Bhai Mardana

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 Sikh community's growing power 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 13 April 1699. The establishment of the Khalsa united the Sikh community against various Mughal-backed claimants to the guruship.[33]

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, was 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. Shortly before his death, Guru Gobind Singh ordered him to uproot Mughal 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 and Hindu peasants who farmed the land.[34]

Banda Singh Bahadur started his rebellion with the defeat of Mughal armies at Samana and Sadhaura and it 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, and executed 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.[35] 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.[34]

In 1762, there were persistent conflicts with the Sikhs. Vadda Ghalughara took place under the Muslim provincial government based at Lahore to wipe out the Sikhs, with 30,000 Sikhs being killed, an offensive that had begun with the Mughals, with the Chhota Ghallughara,[36] and lasted several decades under its Muslim successor states.[37] The rebuilt Harminder Sahib was destroyed, and the pool was filled with cow entrails, again.[38][39]

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.[40] The Cis-Sutlej states included Kaithal, Patiala, Jind, Thanesar, Maler Kotla, and Faridkot.

Sikh Empire[edit]

Darbar of Maharaja Ranjit Singh, showing people of all religions.

The Sikh Empire (1801–1849) was forged by Maharajah Ranjit Singh on the foundations of the Khalsa from a collection of autonomous Sikh misls, creating a unified political state. 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 (80%), Sikh (10%), Hindu (10%).[41]

After Ranjit Singh's death in 1839, the empire was severely weakened by internal divisions and political mismanagement.[42] 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.[43]

Punjab Province (British India)[edit]

The Cis-Sutlej states, including Kaithal, Patiala, Jind, Thanesar, Maler Kotla, and Faridkot, were under the suzerainty of Maharaj Visesa Sarang Khokhar under Khokhar 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.[40][44][45]

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,[46] beginning the First Anglo-Sikh War.

In March 1940, the All-India Muslim League passed the Lahore Resolution, demanding the creation of a separate state from Muslim majority areas in British India. This triggered bitter protests by the Sikhs in Punjab, who could not countenance living in a Muslim state.[47]

In 1946, massive communal tensions and violence erupted between 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.[citation needed] Unwilling to be cowed, Sikhs and Hindus counterattacked,[citation needed] and the resulting bloodshed left the province in great disorder. Congress and League leaders agreed to partition Punjab along religious lines, a precursor to the wider partition of the country.[48]

Independence and its aftermath[edit]

Wagah Border is situated between Amritsar and Lahore, became the main border crossing after partition of Punjab and is known for its elaborate ceremony
Town Hall of Amritsar is the world's only partition museum

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.[49] In 1947 the Punjab Province of British India was partitioned along religious lines into West Punjab going to Pakistan and East Punjab going to India. Huge numbers of people were displaced, and there was much intercommunal violence. 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.[50] 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". Punjab Day is celebrated across the state on 1 November every year marking the formation of a Punjabi language speaking state under the Punjab Reorganisation Act (1966).[51][52]

From 1981 to 1995 the state suffered a 14-year long insurgency. Problems began due to disputes between Punjabi Sikhs and the central government of the Republic of India. Tensions escalated throughout the early 1980s and eventually culminated with Operation Blue Star in 1984; an Indian Army operation aimed at the dissident Sikh community of Punjab. Shortly thereafter, Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi was assassinated by two of her Sikh bodyguards. The decade that followed was noted for widespread inter-communal violence and accusations of genocide on the part of the Sikh community by the Indian government.[53]


Punjab is in northwestern India and has a total area of 50,362 square kilometres (19,445 sq mi). Punjab is bordered by Pakistan's Punjab province on the west, Jammu and Kashmir on the north, Himachal Pradesh on the northeast and Haryana and Rajasthan on the south.[7] Most of Punjab lies in a fertile, alluvial plain with perennial rivers and an extensive irrigation canal system.[54] 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 semi-arid, eventually merging into the Thar Desert. Of the five Punjab rivers, three—Sutlej, Beas and Ravi—flow through the Indian state. The Sutlej and Ravi define parts of the international border with Pakistan.

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.[55] 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.[56]


Agricultural fields of Punjab during the monsoon

The geography and subtropical latitudinal location of Punjab lead to large variations in temperature from month to month. Even though only limited regions experience temperatures below 0 °C (32 °F), ground frost is commonly found in the majority of Punjab during the winter season. The temperature rises gradually with high humidity and overcast skies. However, the rise in temperature is steep when the sky is clear and humidity is low.[57]

The maximum temperatures usually occur in mid-May and June. The temperature remains above 40 °C (104 °F) in the entire region during this period. Ludhiana recorded the highest maximum temperature at 46.1 °C (115.0 °F) with Patiala and Amritsar recording 45.5 °C (113.9 °F). The maximum temperature during the summer in Ludhiana remains above 41 °C (106 °F) for a duration of one and a half months. These areas experience the lowest temperatures in January. The sun rays are oblique during these months and the cold winds control the temperature at daytime.[57]

Punjab experiences its minimum temperature from December to February. The lowest temperature was recorded at Amritsar (0.2 °C (32.4 °F)) and Ludhiana stood second with 0.5 °C (32.9 °F). The minimum temperature of the region remains below 5 °C (41 °F) for almost two months during the winter season. The highest minimum temperature of these regions in June is more than the daytime maximum temperatures experienced in January and February. Ludhiana experiences minimum temperatures above 27 °C (81 °F) for more than two months. The annual average temperature in the entire state is approximately 21 °C (70 °F). Further, the mean monthly temperature range varies between 9 °C (48 °F) in July to approximately 18 °C (64 °F) in November.[57]

Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 26.8
Mean maximum °C (°F) 23.0
Average high °C (°F) 18.4
Average low °C (°F) 3.4
Mean minimum °C (°F) −0.5
Record low °C (°F) −2.9
Average rainfall mm (inches) 26.2
Average rainy days 2.1 3.3 3.2 2.0 2.4 3.8 8.6 6.9 3.5 1.1 0.6 1.4 39.0
Average relative humidity (%) (at 17:30 IST) 63 55 49 32 28 39 64 69 61 50 54 61 52
Average dew point °C (°F) 7
Mean monthly sunshine hours 181.7 192.7 219.4 265.0 294.7 269.0 215.5 227.7 240.8 253.2 220.1 182.2 2,762
Average ultraviolet index 4 5 6 8 9 9 8 8 7 6 5 4 7
Source 1: India Meteorological Department[58][59] Time and Date (dewpoints, 2005-2015)[60]
Source 2: NOAA (sun 1971–1990)[61] Weather Atlas[62]
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 29.0
Mean maximum °C (°F) 23.8
Average high °C (°F) 18.6
Average low °C (°F) 5.6
Mean minimum °C (°F) 1.2
Record low °C (°F) −2.2
Average rainfall mm (inches) 28.3
Average rainy days 2.2 2.7 2.4 1.7 2.0 4.3 8.4 8.6 5.0 1.0 0.6 1.0 39.9
Average relative humidity (%) (at 17:30 IST) 63 54 46 25 23 41 67 73 65 49 49 63 51
Average dew point °C (°F) 8
Average ultraviolet index 4 5 7 8 9 9 8 7 7 6 5 4 7
Source 1: India Meteorological Department[63][64]Time and Date (dewpoints, 2005-2015)[65]
Source 2: Weather Atlas[62]


Punjab experiences three main seasons. They are:

  • Summer (mid-April to the end of June)
  • Monsoon (early July to the end of September)
  • Winter (early December to the end of February).[57]

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

  • Pre-summer season (March to mid-April): This is the period of transition between winter and summer.
  • Post-monsoon season (September to end of November): This is the period of transition between monsoon and winter seasons.[57]


Punjab starts experiencing mildly hot temperatures in February. The actual summer season commences in mid-April and the heat continues till the end of August. High temperatures between May and August hover between 40 and 47 °C. The area experiences atmospheric pressure variations during the summer months. The atmospheric pressure of the region remains around 987 millibar during February and it reaches 970 millibar in June.[57]


Punjab's rainy season begins in the first week of July as monsoon currents generated in the Bay of Bengal bring rain to the region. The monsoon lasts up to mid-September.[57]


Temperature variation is minimal in January. The mean night and day temperatures fall to 5 °C (41 °F) and 12 °C (54 °F), respectively.[57]

Post-Monsoon transitional season[edit]

The monsoon begins to reduce by the second week of September. This brings a gradual change in climate and temperature. The time between October and November is the transitional period between monsoon and winter seasons. Weather during this period is generally temperate and dry.[57]

Post-Winter transitional season[edit]

The effects of winter diminish by the first week of March. The hot summer season commences in mid-April. This period is marked by occasional showers with hail storms and squalls that cause extensive damage to crops. The winds remain dry and warm during the last week of March, commencing the harvest period.[57]


  • Monsoon Rainfall

Monsoon season provides most of the rainfall for the region. Punjab receives rainfall from the monsoon current of the Bay of Bengal. This monsoon current enters the state from the southeast in the first week of July.[57]

  • Winter Rainfall

The winter season remains very cool with temperatures falling below freezing at some places. Winter also brings in some western disturbances.[57] Rainfall in the winter 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 meteorological statistics, the sub-Shivalik area receives more than 100 millimetres (3.9 in) of rainfall in the winter months.[57]

Flora and fauna[edit]

Agriculture in Punjab

The fauna of the area is rich, with 396 types of birds, 214 kinds of Lepidoptera, 55 varieties of fish, 20 types of reptiles, and 19 kinds of mammals. The state of Punjab has large wetland areas, bird sanctuaries that house numerous species of birds, and many zoological parks. Wetlands include the national wetland Hari-Ke-Pattan, the wetland of Kanjli, and the wetlands of Kapurthala Sutlej. Wildlife sanctuaries include the Harike in the district of Tarn Taran Sahib, the Zoological Park in Rupnagar, Chhatbir Bansar Garden in Sangrur, Aam Khas Bagh in Sirhind, Amritsar's famous Ram Bagh Palace, Shalimar Garden in Kapurthala, and the famous Baradari Garden in the city of Patiala.[66]


A few of the rivers in Punjab have crocodiles. The extraction of silk from silkworms is another industry that flourishes in the state. Production of bee honey is done in some parts of Punjab. The southern plains are desert land; hence, camels can be seen. Buffaloes graze around the banks of rivers. The northeastern part is home to animals like horses. Wildlife sanctuaries have many more species of wild animals like the otter, wild boar, wildcat, fruit bat, hog deer, flying fox, squirrel, and mongoose. Naturally formed forests can be seen in the Shivalik ranges in the districts of Ropar, Gurdaspur and Hoshiarpur. Patiala is home to the Bir forest while the wetlands area in Punjab is home to the Mand forest.[67]

Botanical gardens exist throughout Punjab. There is a zoological park and a tiger safari park, as well as three parks dedicated to deer.[67]

The state bird is the northern goshawk (baz) (Accipiter gentilis),[68] the state animal is the blackbuck (Antilope cervicapra), the state aquatic animal is Indus river dolphin (Platanista minor), and the state tree is the shisham (Dalbergia sissoo).[54]

Government and politics[edit]

Punjab is governed through a parliamentary system of representative democracy. 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 term length of the government is five years. The state legislature, the Vidhan Sabha, is the unicameral Punjab Legislative Assembly, with 117 members elected from single-seat constituencies.[69] The current government was elected in the 2022 Assembly elections as Aam Aadmi Party won 92 out of 117 Assembly seats and Bhagwant Mann is the current Chief Minister. The state of Punjab is divided into five administrative divisions and twenty-two districts.

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.[70]

The three major political parties in the state are the Aam Aadmi Party, a centrist to left wing part, the Shiromani Akali Dal, a Sikh right-wing Punjabiyat party and the Indian National Congress, a centrist catch all party.[71] President's rule has been imposed in Punjab eight times so far, since 1950, for different reasons. In terms of the absolute number of days, Punjab was under the President's rule for 3,510 days, which is approximately 10 years. Much of this was in the 80s during the height of militancy in Punjab. Punjab was under the President's rule for five continuous years from 1987 to 1992.

Punjab state law and order is maintained by Punjab Police. Punjab police is headed by its DGP, Dinkar Gupta,[72] and has 70,000 employees. It manages state affairs through 22 district heads known as SSP.

Administrative set-up[edit]

Districts of Punjab along with their headquarters (Before 14 May 2021, when Malerkotla was declared as 23rd district)
Administrative divisions of Punjab

Punjab has 23 districts, which are geographically classified into Majha, Malwa, Doaba and Puadh regions, as under: -

These districts are officially divided among 5 administrative divisions: Faridkot, Ferozepur, Jalandhar, Patiala and Ropar(created on 31 December 2010, which was a part of Patiala Division earlier).[73]

Administrative Divisions and Corresponding Districts of Punjab
S. No. Name of the Division No. of districts Name of the Districts
1 Faridkot 3 Bathinda, Faridkot, Mansa
2 Ferozepur 4 Fazilka, Ferozepur, Moga, Sri Muktsar Sahib
3 Jalandhar 7 Amritsar, Gurdaspur, Hoshiarpur, Jalandhar, Kapurthala, Pathankot, Tarn Taran
4 Patiala 6 Barnala, Fatehgarh Sahib, Ludhiana, Malerkotla, Patiala, Sangrur
5 Ropar 3 Rupnagar, SAS Nagar, SBS Nagar

Each district is under the administrative control of a District Collector. The districts are subdivided into 93 tehsils, which have fiscal and administrative powers over settlements within their borders, including maintenance of local land records comes under the administrative control of a Tehsildar. Each Tehsil consists of blocks which are total 150 in number. These blocks consist of revenue villages. There are total number of revenue villages in the state is 12,278. There are 23 Zila Parishads, 136 Municipal Committees and 22 Improvement Trusts looking after 143 towns and 14 cities of Punjab.

The capital city of the state is Chandigarh and largest city of the state is Ludhiana. Out of total population of Punjab, 37.48% people live in urban regions. The absolute urban population living in urban areas is 10,399,146 of which 5,545,989 are males and while remaining 4,853,157 are females. The urban population in the last 10 years has increased by 37.48%. The major cities are Ludhiana, Amritsar, Jalandhar, Mohali, Patiala and Bathinda.


Hall Gate of Amritsar

Punjab's GDP is 5.42 trillion (US$68 billion).[2] 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".[74] 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.[74]

Punjab ranked first in GDP per capita amongst Indian states in 1981 and fourth in 2001, but has experienced slower growth than the rest of India, having the second-slowest GDP per capita growth rate of all Indian states and UTs between 2000 and 2010, behind only Manipur.[75][76][77][78][79][80][81] Punjab's economy has been primarily agriculture-based since the Green Revolution due to the presence of abundant water sources and fertile soils;[82] most of the state lies in a fertile alluvial plain with many rivers and an extensive irrigation canal system.[54] 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.[83] Despite covering only 1.53%[8] of its geographical area, Punjab makes up for about 15-20%[84][85][86][87] of India's wheat production, around 12%[88][89][90][91] of its rice production, and around 5%[84][92][93][94] of its milk production, being known as India's breadbasket.[95][96] About 80%[97]-95%[98] of Punjab's agricultural land is owned by its Jat Sikh community despite it only forming 21%[99] of the state's population. About 10% of Punjab's population is made up of migrants from poorer states to the southeast such as Uttar Pradesh and Bihar who work as farm labourers.[100]

Other major industries include financial services, the manufacturing of scientific instruments, agricultural goods, electrical goods, machine tools, textiles, sewing machines, sports goods, starch, fertilisers, bicycles, garments, and the processing of pine oil and sugar.[96] Minerals and energy resources also contribute to Punjab's economy to a much lesser extent. Punjab has the largest number of steel rolling mill plants in India, which are in "Steel Town"—Mandi Gobindgarh in the Fatehgarh Sahib district. Punjab also has a large diaspora that is mostly settled in the United Kingdom, the United States, and Canada, numbers about 3 million, and sends back billions of USD in remittances to the state, playing a major role in its economy.[101]

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 to 1992 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.[102][103]

According to the India State Hunger Index, Punjab has the lowest level of hunger in India.[104]



Sri Guru Ram Dass Jee International Airport in Amritsar, is the Primary Hub Airport and Gateway to Punjab, as the airport serves direct connectivity to key cities around the world, including London, Singapore, Moscow, Dubai, Birmingham among others.

Punjab has six civil airports including two international airports: Amritsar International Airport and Chandigarh International Airport at Mohali; and four domestic airports: Bathinda Airport, Pathankot Airport, Adampur Airport (Jalandhar) and Sahnewal Airport (Ludhiana). Apart from these 6 airports, there are 2 airfields at Beas (Amritsar) and Patiala which do not serve any commercial flight operations, as of now.


View of Ludhiana Railway Station

The Indian Railways' Northern Railway line runs through the state connecting most of the major towns and cities. The Shatabdi Express, India's fastest series of train connects Amritsar to New Delhi covering total distance of 449 km. Amritsar Junction Railway Station is the busiest junction of the state. Bathinda Junction holds the record of maximum railway lines from a railway junction in Asia. Punjab's major railway stations are Amritsar Junction (ASR), Ludhiana Junction (LDH), Jalandhar Cantonment (JRC), Firozpur Cantonment (FZR), Jalandhar City Junction (JUC), Pathankot Junction (PTK) and Patiala railway station (PTA). The railway stations of Amritsar is included in the Indian Railways list of 50 world-class railway stations.[105]


Punjab Government has signed a Memorendum of Understanding (MoU) with Virgin Hyperloop One to explore the feasibility of running a hyperloop between Amritsar and Chandigarh which could decrease the travel time between 2 cities from five hours by road to less than 30 minutes. It will have stops in Ludhiana and Jalandhar.[106]


Amritsar Inter State Bus Stand

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 Amritsar and Jalandhar. National highways passing through the state are ranked the best in the country[by whom?] with widespread road networks that serve isolated towns as well as the border region. Amritsar and Ludhiana are among several Indian cities that have the highest accident rates in India.[107]

The following expressways will pass through Punjab:

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

Urban Rapid Transit System[edit]

There are also a bus rapid transit system Amritsar BRTS in the holy city of Amritsar, popularly known as 'Amritsar MetroBus'[108]


Population Growth 
source:Census of India[109]

Languages of Punjab (First Language) (2011)[110][111]

  Punjabi (89.82%)
  Hindi (7.85%)
  Others (2.83%)

Punjab is home to 2.30% of India's population; with a density of 551 persons per km2. According to the provisional results of the 2011 national census, Punjab has a population of 27,743,338, making it the 16th most populated state in India. Of which male and female are 14,639,465 and 13,103,873, respectively.[112] 32% of Punjab's population consists of Dalits.[113]

In the state, the rate of population growth is 13.89% (2011), lower than national average. Out of total population, 37.48% people live in urban regions. The total figure of population living in urban areas is 10,399,146 of which 5,545,989 are males and while remaining 4,853,157 are females. The urban population in the last 10 years has increased by 37.48%. Punjabi is the sole official language of Punjab and is spoken by the majority of the population numbering around 24,919,067 constituting (89.82%) of the population as of 2011 census report. Hindi is second largest language, spoken by 2,177,853 constituting 7.85% of the population and rest 646,418 spoke's other Indian languages comprising 2.83% in other category.[110] The 2011 Census of India found Scheduled Castes to account for 31.9% of the state's population.[114] The Other Backward Classes have 31.3% population in Punjab.[115] The exact population of Forward castes is not known as their data from Socio Economic and Caste Census 2011 is not made public as of 2019.[116]

There has been a constant decline in the sex ratio of the state. The sex ratio in Punjab was 895 females per 1000 males, which was below the national average of 940. The literacy rate rose to 75.84% as per 2011 population census. Of that, male literacy stands at 80.44% while female literacy is at 70.73%. In actual numbers, total literates in Punjab stands at 18,707,137 of which males were 10,436,056 and females were 8,271,081.


Religion in Punjab (2011)[10]

  Sikhism (57.7%)
  Hinduism (38.5%)
  Islam (1.9%)
  Christianity (1.3%)
  Others (0.7%)

Punjab has the largest population of Sikhs in India and is the only state where Sikhs form a majority, numbering around 16 million forming 57.69% of the state population.[10] Hinduism is the second largest religion in the Indian state of Punjab numbering around 10.68 million and forming 38.49% of the state's population and a majority in Doaba region. Islam is followed by 535,489 accounting 1.93% of the population and are mainly concentrated in Malerkotla and Qadian. Other smaller segments of religions existing in Punjab are Christianity practised by 1.26%, Jainism practised by 0.16%, Buddhism practised by 0.12% and others 0.36%. Sikhs form a majority in 17 districts out of the total 23 districts while Hindus form the majority in 5 districts namely, Pathankot, Jalandhar, Hoshiarpur, Fazilka and Shaheed Bhagat Singh Nagar districts.[117]

The Sikh shrine, Golden Temple (Harmandir Sahib), is in the city of Amritsar, which houses the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee, the topmost 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. 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). Due to the non-exclusive nature of their religion, a segment of Punjabis who are categorised as Punjabi Hindus continue heterogeneous religious practices in spiritual kinship with Sikhism. This not only includes veneration of the Sikh Gurus in private practice but also visits to Sikh Gurdwaras in addition to Hindu temples.[118]


Primary and Secondary education is mainly affiliated to Punjab School Education Board. Punjab is served by several institutions of higher education, including 23 universities that provide undergraduate and postgraduate courses in all the major arts, humanities, science, engineering, law, medicine, veterinary science, and business. Reading and writing Punjabi language is compulsory till matriculation for every student[119] failing which the schools attract fine or cancellation of licence.[120]

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.[121] 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.[122]

Punjab has 23 universities, of which ten are private, 9 are state, one is central and three are deemed universities. Punjab has 104,000 (104,000) engineering seats.[123]

Punjab is also increasingly becoming known for education of yoga and naturopathy, with its student slowly adopting these as their career. The Board of Naturopathy and Yoga Science (BNYS) is located in the state.[124] Regional College Dinanagar is the first college to be opened in Dinanagar Town.[125]


Daily Ajit, Jagbani and Punjabi Tribune are the largest-selling Punjabi newspapers while The Tribune is most selling English newspaper. 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 private Punjabi channels include news channels like BBC Punjabi,[126] ABP Sanjha,[127] Global Punjab TV,[128] News18 Punjab-Haryana-Himachal,[129] Zee Punjab Haryana Himachal, PTC News and entertainment channels like Zee Punjabi, GET Punjabi, ETC Punjabi, Chardikla Time TV, PTC Punjabi, Colours Punjabi, JUS Punjabi, MH1 and 9x Tashan.[130]

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 government radio channels like All India Radio, Jalandhar, All India Radio, Bathinda and FM Gold Ludhiana.[131] Private radio channels include Radio Mirchi, BIG FM 92.7, 94.3 My FM, Radio Mantra and many more.


Punjabi jutti

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 that 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,[132] Basant, Vaisakhi and Teeyan,[133][134][135] all of which are celebrated in addition to the religious festivals of India.

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.[136]

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.[137][138]



Bhangra (Punjabi: ਭੰਗੜਾ (Gurmukhi); pronounced [pɑ̀ŋɡɾɑ̀ː]) and Giddha are forms of dance and music that originated in the Punjab region.[139]

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.[140] It is seen in the West as an expression of South Asian culture as a whole.[141] 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]

Malwai Gidha

The folk heritage of the Punjab reflects its thousands of years of history. While Majhi is considered to be the standard dialect of Punjabi language, there are a number of Punjabi dialects through which the people communicate. These include Malwai, Doabi and Puadhi. 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.[142]

The most famous of the romantic love songs are Mayhiah, Dhola and Boliyan.[143] Punjabi romantic dances include Dhamaal, Bhangra, Giddha, Dhola, and Sammi and some other local folk dances.[144]

Punjabi culture.jpg
Punjabi women using a traditional method of spinning


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.[145]


Bhangra Dance

Punjabi Folk Music is the traditional music on the traditional musical instruments of Punjab region.[146][147][148]

Bhangra music of Punjab is famous throughout the world.[26]

Punjabi music has a diverse style of music, ranging from folk and Sufi to classical, notably the Punjab gharana and Patiala gharana.[149][150]

Film industry[edit]

Punjab is home to the Punjabi film industry, often colloquially referred to as 'Pollywood'.[151] It is known for being the fastest growing film industry in India. It is based mainly around Mohali city. According to MP Manish Tewari, the government is planning to build a film city in Mohali.[152]

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.[citation needed]


Vegetarian Punjabi Thaali
Teeyan celebration in Punjab

The city of Amritsar is home to the craft of brass and copper metalwork done by the Thatheras of Jandiala Guru, which is enlisted on the UNESCO's List of Intangible Cultural Heritage.[153] Years of neglect had caused this craft to die out, and the listing prompted the Government of Punjab to undertake a craft revival effort under Project Virasat.[154][155]


One of the main features of Punjabi cuisine is its diverse range of dishes.[156][157] 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.[158]

There are many regional dishes that are famous in some regions only. Many dishes are exclusive to Punjab, including Sarson Da Saag, Tandoori chicken, Shami kebab, makki di roti, etc.[159]

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),[160][161] Mela Maghi,[162] Hola Mohalla,[163][164] Rakhri, Vaisakhi, Lohri, Gurpurb, Guru Ravidass Jayanti, Teeyan and Basant Kite Festival.


PCA Stadium under lights at Mohali

Kabbadi (Circle Style), a team contact sport originated in rural Punjab is recognised as the state game.[165][166] Field hockey is also a popular sport in the state.[167] 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,[168][169]

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. A major C.B.S.E event C.B.S.E Cluster Athlectics also held in Punjab at Sant Baba Bhag Singh University.[170]

The Punjab state basketball team won the National Basketball Championship on many occasions, most recently in 2019 and 2020.[171][172]


Harmandir Sahib in Amritsar is a major pilgrimage site in Punjab and is also widely visited for its unique architecture

Tourism in Indian Punjab centres around the historic palaces, battle sites, and the great Sikh architecture of the state and the surrounding region.[173] 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.[174]

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.[175] Moreover, there is a rapidly expanding array of international hotels in the holy city at Heritage Walk Amritsar that can be booked for overnight stays. Devi Talab Mandir is a Hindu temple located in Jalandhar. This temple is devoted to Goddess Durga[176] and is believed to be at least 200 years old. 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.[177][178][179] Shahpur kandi fort, Ranjit Sagar lake and Sikh Temple in Sri Muktsar Sahib are also popular attractions in Punjab. Punjab also has the world's first museum based on the Indian Partition of 1947, in Amritsar, called the Partition Museum.[180]

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External links[edit]


General information