Deriving its name from five full-bodied rivers–Sutlej, Beas, Ravi, Jhelum, and Chenab–which flow through its vast plains, Punjab is representative of abundant things.
Located on the north-western edge of India, it is one of the smaller albeit prosperous states of the nation, and home to a lively, hospitable and dynamic people.
Widely acknowledged as the cradle of civilization, it is a land of ethnic and religious diversity, having borne and shaped a number of religious movements that include Sikhism, Buddhism and Sufism.
The Punjabi language, too, finds its origin in the Indo-European linguistic family that includes Persian and Latin.
Naturally replete with fertile soils and rich water sources, it is primarily an agricultural state, and has continually and infinitely contributed towards the food security of the Indian Republic. Punjab’s many festivals–Teej, Lohri, Basant, and Baisakhi, to name some–are celebrations that mirror the farming ethos.
Indeed, Bhangra, the traditional dance of Punjab revolves around, and replicates a farmer’s daily life. Historically, Punjab has played host to a number of ethnicities, including the Aryans, Persians, Greeks, Afghans and Mongols, thus bestowed with a rich tangible heritage.
Reflecting this history are the countless sites that dot the state: impressive forts & palaces, ancient monuments, architectural marvels and many a battlefield.
The state encompasses an area of 50,362 sq. km and is flanked by Pakistan on the west, Jammu & Kashmir on the north, Himachal Pradesh on its northeast and Haryana and Rajasthan on the south.
Searing summers, torrential monsoons and cool winters depict the climatic conditions of the landscape that is drained by the Ravi, Beas, Sutlej and Ghaggar rivers and their tributaries.
The state of Punjab is wedged between Pakistan on the west, Jammu & Kashmir on the north, Himachal Pradesh on the north-east and Haryana and Rajasthan on the south.
Physically, the topography of Punjab can be divided into the upper portion of the sub-Shivalik area and the rest of Punjab is situated on the Sutlej – Ghaggar river basin.
The low Shivalik Hills demarcate the Himalayas from the plains. Rupnagar, Hoshiarpur and Gurdaspur districts fall in this zone and run like a wall from north-west to south-east, dividing the Himachal valleys of Sirsa and Una.
Topographical changes due to the formation of Himalayas in the recent geographical past gave a basin-like structure to Punjab. The plains of Punjab lie between altitudes 180 meters and 300 meters above sea level.
The word “Punjab” literally means five waters as the fertile plains of Punjab are drained by five rivers – Chenab, Jhelum, Ravi, Beas and Sutlej.
The climate in Punjab comprises of three seasons:-
Summer spans from mid April to the end of June.
The rainy season is from the months of early July to end of September.
The winter season is experienced during the months of early December to the end of February.
Summer in Punjab actually commences from mid April but the temperature starts rising from February onwards.
Rainfall ranges from 250mm to 1000mm. Agriculture in the state highly depends on the rains.
The winter season in Punjab is mostly experienced in the month of January, when the temperature falls to 5°C in the night and hovers around 12°C in the day.
In the post winter transitional season, hail-storms and brief showers occur which cause damage to the crops.
The wind becomes dry by the end of March. The Punjab climate has been a significant factor in shaping the economy of the state.
The history of Punjab goes back thousands of years. Undivided Punjab has been the cradle of the Indus Valley Civilization, the remains of which can be seen at the Ropar archaeological site and its dedicated museum.
This fertile ancient land finds mention even in Mahabharata and Ramayana. Infact it is believed that the Ramayana was written here by Valmiki ji. Places like Rupnagar, Kiratpur, Dholbaha, Rohira and Ghuram…all in Punjab; have unearthed artifacts that date back centuries.
In Sanghol are 107 statues of the Kushan period evoking memories of a flourishing Buddhist monastery. This monastery was visited by Hiuen Tsang in the 7th century.
The milestones in the history of Punjab are the migration of the Aryans to Punjab between 516 BC to 321 AD, immediately followed by Alexander’s invasion, which changed the fate of India as a whole.
The last point of Alexander’s entry in India can be seen in Gurdaspur. The Muslims ruled till around 1300 AD and then came the rise of the Sikhs from 1700 AD to 1849 AD. Punjab has always ranked high when it comes to courage, might and valour.
The state made major contributions to the freedom struggle of India though in the process it had to face its own division.
Satyagraha, morchas, Jallianwala Bagh massacre with names like Kartar Singh Sarabha, Lala Lajpat Rai, Udham Singh, Madan Lal Dhingra, Bhagat Singh instantly evoke the memories of the struggle for Indian independence.
The list is endless for Punjab has been one of the most happening places in the struggle.
Punjab now is shared by India and Pakistan though the ethos continues to be the same on both ends, divided only in body and not in soul.
The partition of Punjab with its brutal riots was one of the most traumatic experiences for some and it continues to have its effect today.
The flourishing position of the state in terms of agriculture, industriy, education and all other fields prove the tenacity that is so unique to the state and its people.