Located in the northwest corner of India bordering Pakistan, Punjab is one of the most prosperous states in India and is also known as the agricultural land of India. Punjab in its present form came into existence on November 1, 1966, after majority of its Hindi speaking areas were segregated to form a new state now known as Haryana. The city of Chandigarh, within the Chandigarh Union Territory, is the joint capital of Haryana and Punjab.
Punjab is made of two words, ‘punj’ means five and ‘ab’ means water, signifying the land of fiver water bodies – Beas, Jhelum, Chenab, Ravi, and Sutlej. The majority religion followed in Punjab is Sikhism which originated from the teachings of Nanak, the first Sikh Guru. Punjabi is the official language of the state with Hindi also widely spoken. Punjab is home to some of the most visited sites in India and world such as the Golden Temple, Wagah Border, Jallianwala Bagh, Elante Mall, Rock Garden, etc. and has one of the most delicious and mouth-watering cuisines that is famous worldwide.
Language and Population
The official language of Punjab is Punjabi with most of the population speaking it. There are many dialects used in different regions such as Doabi, Ghebi, Malwai, Pahari, Shahpuri, Rachnavi, Hindko, etc. Along with that, Hindi is also widely spoken here and sone people speak English and Urdu as well.
The current population of Punjab is 27,743,338, out of which male and female are 14,639,465 and 13,103,873 respectively.
Punjab has one of the oldest and richest cultures in the world. The diversity of the state is visible in its poetry, philosophy, spirituality, education, music, artistry, technology, science, architecture, warfare, traditions, etc. The Punjabi culture grew out of the settlements near five rivers during the early Indus Valley Civilization.
Agriculture has always been a major economic feature of Punjab and thus, the state is also known as the Basket of India as being the agricultural hub. Warrior culture has also been a major influence in the Sikh community which is highly esteemed by Punjabis. The people are joyous and love dancing and singing and celebrate every event or festival with enthusiasm. Punjabi people or the Sikh community is also known for their social work for feeding the needy all throughout the world.
Places to Visit / Tourist Places
The culturally rich and vibrant state of Punjab is a traveller’s delight which is gifted with nature as well as the heritage that the state carried so proudly. From spiritual places to commercial grandeur, from historical places to natures retreat, the state will leave you fascinated regardless of what you seek. Here are some of the best places to visit in Punjab to make a wholesome vacation:
- Chandigarh– The capital city, Chandigarh is one of the well-planned and cleanest cities of India with modernity residing with antiquity. You can spend some time relaxing in the gardens, lounging in the pubs, shopping in massive malls, or visiting several museums the city boats of.
- Amritsar – Amritsar is known for its spirituality, patriotism, and for legends with home to the Golden Temple, the most spiritually significant place for Sikhs, Jallianwala Bagh, Wagah Border. It is also a foodie’s heaven with its delectable street food and colourful markets for the shopaholics.
- Patiala– This is the fourth largest city of the state and is also called City of Newspapers, Patiala has several monuments which are a blend of Mughal and Rajput architectural styles along with many museums that showcase the history of the city and state. Patiala is also a go-to place for travellers who wish to buy some authentic Punjabi items.
- Ludhiana – Ludhiana is the place where you will see the true essence of Punjab, its agricultural scenario. The simple yet vibrant city will give you a glimpse into the lifestyle of rural people and its history through the museums along with the wildlife and local food.
- Sirhind– The city was the military outpost of Prithviraj Chauhan in his revolt against Muhammad Ghori. It later turned out to be a part of Ghori sultanate and was refounded by Tughlaq emperors. Visiting the city will give you a glimpse into the history and spiritual life of the people.
- Jalandhar – The city is home to several Sikh and Hindu pilgrimage sites and has several old markets as well. From street shopping to showrooms and shrines, the city offers a blend of modern and cultural delight for all kinds of visitors.
- Pathankot – Bordering Himachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir, Pathankot is blessed with greenery along with history. The city has many temples and gurudwaras and is one of the major railheads in the state.
- Bathinda – The City of Lakes, Bhatinda is a simple and small city yet a wonderful place to visit in Punjab. The city narrates fascinating tales of the past with rulers from the Mughal, Chauhan, and Maratha empire ruled the city. Apart from this, the place is also known for its local food and lassi.
- Kapurthala – The city is known as the ‘Paris of Punjab’ due to its distinct architectural scenario where most of the structures are made in French and Indo-Saracen styles of architecture. With several palaces, mosques, gardens, etc. Kapurthala is an artist’s heaven.
- Mohali– Also known as Ajitgarh, Mohali is the commercial, cultural and transportation hub of Punjab. It is home to cricket and hockey stadiums which lure many sports enthusiasts along with devotees who visit the city for gurudwaras and temples.
Major Attractions (Top attractions)
- Golden Temple – With its iconic history and grand golden architecture, the Golden Temple is the holiest shrine of the Sikhism, and every Sikh visits the gurudwara at least once. Located in Amritsar, its façade is made of pure gold, and it is surrounded by a pond the water of which is considered to have healing properties.
- Jallianwala Bagh – A memorial ground of the massacre of 1919 in Amritsar, the walls of Jallianwala Bagh still bear the bullet holes from a century ago and has a museum showcasing its history and testimonials of the people who survived.
- Wagah Border – Wagah Border is in Amritsar, and it is the border between India and Pakistan from where buses travel from India and Pakistan at certain time during the day. Every evening, a show is organized where soldiers from both sides showcase their physical strength and martial art skills together to display harmony.
- Rock Garden – Located in Chandigarh, Rock Garden is a beautiful garden displaying rock sculptures of different kinds and village representation with dolls made from biodegradable materials.
- Sukhna Lake – A peaceful and beautiful lake with a huge park and recreational area which is perfect for a fun outing with your family and friends. It also has boating facilities and many food outlets.
- Pinjore Garden– A huge garden displaying a variety of flowers such as roses, daffodils, tulips, marigold, hyacinths, daisies, etc. in a terrace style manner along with fountains and water channels.
- Phillaur Fort– The grand Phillaur Fort is famous for its historical significance and served as a military base for Maharaja Ranjit Singh.
- Maharaja Ranjit Singh Museum – A summer palace turned into a museum, this museum is dedicated to Maharaja Ranjit Singh, the founder of the Sikh empire, which showcases his personal belongings from arms and armours to coins and manuscripts.
- Pushpa Gujral Science City– Located in Jalandhar, this science city is one of the most important science parks in North India and deals with all modern aspects of science and valuable topics.
- Gobindgarh Fort – It is a grand fortress made of red sandstone dating to the 18th century with a war museum, performances, and Punjabi food carts to engage the visitors.
- Sheesh Mahal– Located in Patiala, it is a traditional Mughal architecture with a grand façade and a sprawling garden. It also has a medal gallery housing about 3000 medals which belong to the 12th century.
Nightlife (Pubs, Clubs, Lounges)
- Underdoggs Sports Bar and Kitchen– Packing a punch of gourmet food, craft beer, music, sports, and entertainment, underdoggs serve cocktails, fresh brewed beers, and live sports and musical gigs to make the most of visitors’ experience.
- Peddlers – An old English pub where you can walk-in wearing t-shirt and shorts and still would be allowed. With chic furniture made of dark teak wood and walls adorned with posters of old British comedians, the pub is always alive with music and people enjoying drinks till late night all days of week.
- Proof -The Bar – Located inside the Radisson Blue Hotel, the bar features spectacular décor in hues of red and highlighted with warm lightings. It is an ideal place to enjoy some pre-dinner drinks along with some finger food and tandoori starters.
- Irish Beach – The pub has a lavish interior, DJ consoles, and a dance floor for some devilish fun. The menu consists of some tempting continental fast food which you can enjoy with some fresh draft beer and other brews.
- Stars N Bars – Spread across three levels, this pub is a sports bar, a fine dining, a clubbing space all in one. They serve delicious pizza and other finger food and serve a bevy of cocktails, draught beers, and other fresh brews.
- The Peg – Located inside Taj Swarna Hotel, the Peg is a classy bar boasting of enticing décor and warm ambiance and serve single malts, signature cocktails, and delicious wines with classic North Indian and Chinese dishes.
- The Beer Café – A heaven for the beer lovers, the bar has stunning interiors, comfy couches, music and live performances, and a delectable menu that is enjoyed with some fresh beer brewed here.
- Hops N Grains – It is Panchkula’s first micro-brewery cum resto-lounge for a beer hangout. The pub has unfinished concrete walls, pipes jutting out, and steel tanks placed around it which gives it a unique yet chic vibes. They have different kinds of beer freshly brewed which you can enjoy with some music or while dancing on the floor.
Punjabi cuisine is one of the best and most famous cuisines of India. With an array of delectable buttery and spicy dishes complemented with thick lassi, Punjab has some of the most delicious and drool-worthy dishes to die for. Some famous Punjabi foods are:
- Amritsari Kulcha – A stuffed flatbread made with fermented dough and filled with different kinds of stuffing such as potato, paneer, etc. and devoured with chole or dahi.
- Sarso ka Saag and Makki di Roti – A classic winter delicacy of Punjab, sarson ka saag is a green gravy made using mustard plant leaves and a little spinach and is complemented with roti made from corn flour.
- Lassi – Lassi is Punjab special drink made with thick curd, sugar, sometimes rosewater essence and little dry fruits which is shaken well to make it frothy.
- Chhole-Bhature – Devour the delicious chickpea gravy coated with a spicy puree with the bhature that is a spongy flatbread made from a fermented dough, a perfect treat for your taste buds.
- Tandoori Chicken – A favourite chicken dish in India, it is made by marinating the chicken in spices for hours and then dry roasting it in a traditional tandoor which is a clay oven until it is cooked and crispy from the sides.
- Gobhi-Shalgam-Gajar Pickle – A mixed pickle made using cauliflower, radish, and carrot and swept in spices which is used as a complimentary item.
- Pinni – Pinni is a sweet savoury dish made from ghee, jaggery, and wheat flour and garnished with dry fruits. It is usually made in winters and tastes heart-warming.
- Amritsari Fish – Usually made with fish fillets from Sole fish or Singhara fish, with a batter of spiced rice flour and mustard seeds for a crispy coating and fried to perfection.
- Butter Chicken – One of the most popular Indian dishes worldwide, Butter Chicken is known for its creamy texture, succulent pieces of chicken, aroma of spices, and lots of butter.
- Paneer Tikka – A starter dish made using marinated paneer cubes along with capsicum and onions and then roasted on a skewer over a charcoal-based tandoor.
- Rajma Chawal – It is a lentil and rice dish made with kidney beans that is cooked with spices and tomatoes and devoured with fluffy steamed rice.
- Dal Makhani – It is a lentil dish made from black grams and kidney beans with lots of aromatics and spices and a generous amount of butter which makes it creamy and flavourful.
Punjab has numerous hotels that range from budget to luxury to cater to all kinds of visitors. some of the best hotels to have a perfect and comfortable stay are:
- Taj Swarna
- Hyatt Regency
- Radisson Blu Hotel
- Welcom Hotel Amritsar – Member ITC Hotels
- Fairfield by Marriott Amritsar
- Ramada by Wyndham Amritsar
- Hotel Sawera Grand
- Golden Tulip Hotel
- Lemon Tree Hotel
- Ranjit’s SVAASA
- Haveli Restaurant in Jalandhar – The restaurant is famous for its chic yet traditional ambiance and serve delicious traditional Punjabi food including the Thali. Don’t forget to try the lassi here which is the specialty.
- Punjab Grill in Chandigarh – A famous restaurant with a royal looking ambiance of red and gold, Punjab Grill is known for its delectable non-veg starters of tandoor and grilled items.
- Brothers’ Dhaba in Amritsar – This homely restaurant is famous for its kulcha and Punjabi-style paratha which are served with pomegranate seeds, fried spicy potatoes, and herbs.
- Kesar Da Dhaba in Amritsar – It is an old restaurant but serves delicious authentic Punjabi meal including the thali. Butter silver-leaf topped firni which is a ground rice pudding is also a must-try here.
- Love Italy in Jalandhar – A perfect place for Italian food lovers, the restaurant has amazing Italy style thin crust pizza and other Italian dishes at a chic ambiance with dim lightings.
- Hot Millions in Chandigarh – Located in shopping central and offers delicious fast food. The restaurant is spread on two floors where you can enjoy a quick grab downstairs or have a hearty meal sitting upstairs.
- Bistro FlammeBois in Ludhiana – The restaurant serves amazing international cuisines and also have an open area where you can enjoy your meal. Private cabin option is also there to spend time with your special one and enjoy delectable international cuisines.
- Ghazal Restaurant in Chandigarh– A classic restaurant with a comfortable ambiance, service, and devouring food. They serve Mughlai classics along with continental and Chinese dishes.
Punjab has many interesting cities and towns, and off beat places that people can travel to or explore; and which are perfect for a short getaway, such as –
Market places (Traditional markets)
- Rainak Bazar – Located in Jalandhar, it is a one-stop destination for all clothes shopping from traditional, casual, to chic. Every shop has clothes for all age groups and sizes and for every occasion whether party, wedding, or formal wear.
- Akal Market – Located in Ludhiana, the market is another destination for clothing and accessories. The market also has a lot of electronic shops, and the products are available at an affordable rate.
- Lahori Gate Market – Located in Amritsar, it is one of the busiest markets because of the wide variety of shops, showrooms, and restaurants. The market also has several stay options which attracts travellers and it primarily known for its Pashmina shawls.
- Basant Avenue Market – It is a beautiful market with all sorts of shops for all age groups along with beautiful sightseeing options. The market is covered with a wide variety of clothing and street food shops along with restaurants to keep the visitors busy.
- Gurudwara Market – Located in Kapurthala the market is known for artefacts and souvenirs and is always bustling with activity. It also has traditional Punjabi toys and crafts that you get compelled to buy.
- Gole Market – Located in Ludhiana, the market is known from where you can buy groceries, stationary, medicine, garments, etc., all at reasonable prices. It has almost all kind of dairy item as well which is available at wholesale rate.
- Phase 5 Market – Located in Mohali, it is famous for its restaurants and dhabas. Other than that, one can buy products like groceries, garments, food, medicine, etc., but primarily people flock here to eat a variety of street food and cuisines and to enjoy in pubs.
Punjab is a shopaholic’s paradise with its affordable items, arts and handicrafts pieces, delicious sweets, and traditional wears and accessories that famous across the country. not only big shopping complexes, but you can get anything you want in local markets and shops as well. Some of the most famous shops in Punjab are:
Museum and Art Galleries
- Maharaja Ranjit Singh Museum, Amritsar– The former summer palace of the erstwhile king Maharaja Ranjit Singh, it is now converted into a museum which showcases artifacts and relics offering a clear account history and customs of the Sikh community.
- Sanghol Museum, Fatehgarh Sahib– The museum displays archaeological findings from the ancient civilization of Punjab. It houses over 15000 antiquities like sculptures, pottery, coins, carvings, ivory, gemstones, a Buddhist stupa, etc.
- Govt. Museum, Hoshiarpur– This museum displays the fossils and uncommon sculptures gathered from the historical site of Dholbaha, some of them date back to the stone age.
- Rural Museum, Punjab Agricultural University, Ludhiana– Some faded aspects of the rural Punjabi culture are on display here such as arts, handicrafts, modes of livelihood, etc.
- Sports Museum, National Institute of Sports, Patiala– This museum contains uncommon pictures, medals, and packages of the excellent Indian sportspersons. It is embedded in the sylvan environments of Moti Bagh Palace.
- Art Gallery at Shish Mahal, Patiala – The gallery displays some uncommon assortment of mini paintings of Kangra, Rajasthan, and Patiala style with a special area dedicated to Tibetan Arts and Artifacts. The Medal gallery houses the world’s largest collection of medals and decorations.
Events / Festivals
- Lohri– Lohri is the winter harvest festival which is celebrated on the longest winter night with a bonfire and folk songs sung by women. Things such as jaggery, sesame seeds, and all that keeps the body warm is offered to the fire and it is believed that after Lohri, the days start to become longer and warmer.
- Gurupurab– A spiritual festival for Sikhs, the Sikh community celebrates the birth anniversary of the highly revered Sikh Gurus. The festivals begin with the chanting of holy hymns and people visit Gurudwaras, seek blessings, and enjoy sweets and langar.
- Baisakhi – Baisakhi is the harvest festival of Punjab which celebrates the occasion of harvesting the first crop. The festival also marks the first day of the Sikh new year and people wear traditional clothes, make delicious food, and indulge in dancing and singing.
- Teej Festival – This festival is celebrated by women on the onset of monsoons. Women wear henna in hands, enjoy on the swings, sing and dance.
- Chappar Mela – One of the most spectacular festivals of Punjab, it is held every year in Chappar village in September where people worshp the lord of the snake. The fair has several amusement rides and is filled with music and dance and numerous kiosks.
- Jor Mela – Shaheedi Jor Mela is a religious get together to commemorate the martyred sons of Guru Gobind Singh which is held in December at Gurudwara Fatehgarh Sahib. The holy book of Sikh is recited followed by a procession on the streets.
Art and Dance
- Bhangra – It is the most popular folk-dance form of Punjab which was traditionaly performed on Lohri and Baisakhi to celebrate the change of season and harvest. Now, bhangra is done in all celebrations by both men and women which involves a lot of leaping and jumping around those playing the dhol instrument.
- Giddha – Gidda is a dance form performed by women which involves a signature clapping of hands and a joyous dance to match the beats of the dhols and drums. The dances are performed on the lines of bolis which are small verses inspired by daily life of women, families, and political scenarios.
- Kikli– It is performed by women by crossing their arms, holding each other’s hands and dancing and circling around while singing small verses of folk songs.
- Jhoomer – Originated in Sandalbar, present day Pakistan village, the dance is performed by women circling around the drummer while singing verses as they dance.
- Dankara – It is a type of celebratory dance form usually performed by men in weddings. The steps involve two men with staves of distinct colours dance to the rhythm of beats around each other and then tapping their sticks together.
- Jhajjar-Bachauli Wildlife Sanctuary – Located in district of Rupnagar, the wildlife sanctuary is known for vibrant fauna species and reptiles which you can explore through a cycle ride.
- TakhaniRehmanpur Wildlife Sanctuary– Located near Hoshiarpur in Village Takhni and Rehmapur, the sanctuary is in the foothills of Shivalik range of Himalayas and is rich in floral diversity along with wildlife and a stunning landscape.
- Bir Gurdialpura Wildlife Sanctuary– Located near Patiala city, the wildlife sanctuary is sprawled over 620 hectares of land and is home to many wildlife species of animals and birds that you can explore.
- Kathlour Wildlife Sanctuary– Located in Pathankot, the wildlife sanctuary is spread in 758 hectares of land and is spread in Kathlour and Kushalian villages. The area consists of dense forests intermingled with open grasslands of Saccharum and water bodies where wild animals come to drink water.
How to Reach
- By Air: Punjab is connected via air through Chandigarh and Amritsar airports which board national and international flights. Buses, taxis, and cabs are available from the airports.
- By Train: Punjab has railway heads in Amritsar and Pathankot that are connected to major cities in India.
- By Road: National Highways connect Punjab from neighbouring cities and states, and public and private buses are available 24/7.