Punjab is a state in the north-west of the Republic in India. Etymologically it means the ‘Land of Five Rivers’—Jhelum, Chenab, Ravi, Beas and Sutlej. It is geo-politically bordered by the Indian State of Jammu and Kashmir to the north, Himachal Pradesh to the east, Haryana to the south and south-west, Rajasthan to the south-west, and the Pakistani province of Punjab to the west.
The Indus Valley Civilization spanned much of the Punjab region with Harappa and Mahenjodaro (now in Pakistan). Afterwards, the Vedic Civilization along the length of the Saraswati river covered most of Northern India including Punjab. During Mahabharata times, Punjab was known as Panchanada. The Punjab region was conquered in the ancient and mediaeval period by the Gandharas, Nandas, Mauryas, Sungas, Kushans, Guptas, Gurjaras and Hindu Shahis. The farthest eastern extent of invasion (325 BC) of Alexander the Great was along the Indus River. Besides, Punjab faced invasions by Persians, Turks, Afghans and, later on, Mughals, This resulted in Punjab witnessing centuries of bitter bloodshed.
The Sikh empire (1801-1849) was formed by Maharaja Ranjit Singh. After Ranjit Singh’s death, Punjab came under the British rule by 1845. In 1919 the Jallianwala Bagh Massacre occurred in Amritsar. And in 1947, when India attained Independence, the Punjab Province of British India was partitioned along with Hindu and Muslim religious lines into West Punjab and East Punjab. Huge numbers of people were displaced due to communal violence. Following Independence, several small Punjabi princely states, including Patiala, acceded to the Union of India. In 1956 this was integrated with the State of East Punjab to create a new, enlarged State called simply Punjab’. A new capital for Indian Punjab was built at Chandigarh. However, Simla was temporary capital until Chandigarh was completed in 1960. Thereafter the State of Punjab was again divided on linguistic basis in 1966. The Punjabi speaking region remained as Punjab, the Hindi-speaking southern half of Punjab became a separate state, Haryana, and the Pahari-speak. ing hilly areas in north-east were given to Himachal Pradesh. Chandigarh being on the border became a separate Union Territory and serves as the capital of both Punjab and Haryana.
The geographical area of Punjab is about 50,362 km? and most of the land lies in a fertile alluvial plain with many rivers and an extensive irrigation canal system. A belt of undertaking hills extends along the northeastern part of the State at the foot of the Himalayas. The south-west of the state is semiarid, eventually merging into the Thar Desert. The soil characteristics are influenced to a limited extent of the topography of rock and vegetation and cause regional climatic differences. However, the climate is mainly characterized by extreme hot and extreme cold in summer and winter. The north-east area near the foothills of the Himalayas receives heavy rainfall, whereas the area in further south and west receives less rainfall and experiences higher temperature.
The population of Indian Punjab is 27,704,236 according to the 2011 census. The literacy rate is 75% (including male literacy 80.23% and female literacy 68 36%).
As for religion, Sikhism is predominant in Punjab, followed by more than 60% of the populace. Besides the famous Golden Temple in Amritsar, at least one Sikh Gurdwara can be seen in almost every village as well as in the towns and cities. Hinduism is the second-most practised faith in Punjab forming 37% of the population. A large section of Punjabis who are categorised as Punjabi Hindus continues heterogeneous religious practices with spiritual kinship with Sikhism. Other religions—such as Islam and Christianity—are also followed alongside Buddhism and Jainism in small numbers.
Like all other States of India, Punjab possesses a parliamentary system of government with a Chief Minister as the executive head and ceremonial state Governor, appointed by the President of India on the advice of the Central Government. The Stae Legislature is unicameral with 117 members.
The Punjabi language, written in Gurmukhi script, is the official language of the State. The culture of Punjab has many elements in music and dance, such as bhangra with an extensive religious and non-religious dance tradition, a long history of poetry in the Punjabi language, and a significant film industry.
The economy of Punjab mainly depends on its agriculture. Punjab is one of the most fertile regions of India. It is called the ‘Granary of India’ or “India’s breadbasket that produces wheat, rice, sugarcane, fruits and vegetables.
The State has a large network of the multimodal transportation system. The infrastructure of Punjab has been rated the best in India with the road, rail, and air services. From this section, Indian railways have an international rail connection to Pakistan. The railway junction in Bhatinda in Punjab is the largest in Asia. Moreover, Punjab has five civil airports. The airport in Amritsar is the most important airport in the State and is also the second busiest in North India after Delhi Airport.
Tourism in Indian Punjab centres around the historic palaces, battle sites and the great Sikh shrines and architecture, such as the Golden Temple in Amritsar in Punjab.