Punjab is an Indian state in the northern part of the country. It is bordered Jammu and Kashmir and Himachal Pradesh to its north-west, Chandigarh to its east, Haryana to the southeast, and Rajasthan to the southwest, and it shares its western border with Pakistan.
The name Pun-jab literally translates to “The land of five rivers” – as five tributary rivers of the Indus River (the Sutlej, Ravi, Beas, Chenab and Jhelum rivers) flow through (what was earlier) the province of Punjab - a part of which is now part of Pakistan, while the remaining is part of India. Now the Sutlej, Ravi and Beas rivers flow through the Indian part of this Punjab province – i.e., the current Punjab state.
The land is ranked among the most ancient civilizations in the world. This was spanned by the Indus Valley Civilization, The Vedic Civilization and eventually the development of Hinduism. It is as old as 800 BCE.
The religion of Sikhism was established here, beginning in the early 15th century and was developed and then again forged, in the 19th century by Maharaja Ranjit Singh of the Sikh Empire.
During British empire’s rule, between 19th and 20th centuries, this land was part of Punjab Province – a larger state comprising of Punjabi speaking population – it comprised of some portions that belong to today’s Pakistan as well.
The State of Punjab in India was finally created in 1947, after India’s independence from the British, when the partition of India split this British-Indian Punjab province between India and Pakistan. The western part of this province, which had larger number of Muslims became Pakistan's Punjab Province, while the eastern part which had a larger number of Sikh population became India's Punjab state.
Punjab has 237 cities and towns. Its capital city is Chandigarh, which also serves as the capital of another neighboring state – Haryana. Chandigarh is located near the foothills of the Shivalik Range of the famous Himalayas mountain ranges of northern India, and lies partly in both the states of Punjab and Haryana.
Other popular and most populated cities of Punjab include: Ludhiana, Amritsar, Jalandhar, Patiala, Bhatinda, Firozpur.
There are 3.05 crore (30.5 million) people in Punjab, out of which 57.69% are Sikhs, 38.49% are Hindus, 2% are Muslims, less than 1% are Jains, and less than 2% are Christians.
Sikhism is predominant in Punjab.
The state is famous for its religious diversity – with a large number temples, gurudwaras, mosques, Jain temples, churches and so on. Golden Temple in Amritsar is one of the most visited and popular temples in India.
The state has the largest number of Sikhs (about 75% of the world’s Sikhs) and also has a large number of Hindus and Muslims.
Bhangra is a famous and age-old Punjabi musical art and folk-dance form, which has now become popular in other parts of the country and world as well.
The official language of Punjab is Punjabi, which is spoken across the state in various dialects in different regions of the state.
It is also spoken largely in Haryana and Delhi, along with Hindi; and in many districts of the Punjab Province part of Pakistan too.
Punjabi cuisine is known for its rich, spicy and buttery flavours along with vegetables, breads and meat. The dishes and cooking styles are mostly influenced by agriculture and farming lifestyles that were prevalent from the times of Indus Valley civilization. Punjab is full of green farms – and mustard is one of the largely grown crops here – both the seeds and leaves of this crop are used extensively in Punjabi cooking.
Some signature dishes of Punjab include:
Trains, Planes and Buses are major modes of inter-city transportation within Punjab. For travel within cities, there are many other modes such as taxi/cabs, buses, and private vehicles like 2-wheelers and cars, or even walking and cycling.
Airports – Punjab has 4 domestic airports connecting to other states and cities in the country, and 1 International airport connecting to cities within the state as well as other parts of the country.
Railway Stations – Punjab has a total of 285 train terminals/railway stations (at least one for each city/town, and more than 1 in some big cities) that connect to other cities and towns within the state as well as those in other states in the country. Some of the major train terminals and junctions in the state are:
Bus Terminals – Punjab has its own line of state-run PRTC (Punjab roadways and PEPSU Road Transport Corporation) buses which provide the connection between all the cities and towns within the state and also neighbouring states. These buses can be boarded at PRTC stops/terminals that are available in every division and town in the state. The prominent town/city bus terminals in Punjab are located in almost every city and town - they can be easily found and are conveniently accessible.
Punjab has many devotional spots, and interesting places of historical significance as well as those that offer an aesthetic or gastronomical delight, and many markets with quirky and interesting things to shop for.
Some must-see and must-experience attractions of Punjab include:
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 –
Punjab has many historical gems to see. Some popular sites of historical significance in the state are –