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Area : 50,362 sq km State Government Portal
Population : 24,358,999    
Capital : Chandigarh    
Principal Languages : Punjabi    

History and Geography
Ancient Punjab formed part of the vast Indo-Iranian region. In later years, it saw the rise and fall of the Mauryans, Bactrians, Greeks, Sakas, Kushans and Guptas. Medieval Punjab witnessed the supremacy of the Muslims. Ghaznavi was followed by the Ghoris, the slaves, the Khiljis, the Tughlaqs, the Lodhis and the Mughals. Fifteenth and sixteenth centuries marked a period of watershed in the history of Punjab. Through teachings of Guru Nanak, Bhakti movement received a great impetus. Sikhism began as a socio-religious movement, which was more interested in fighting evils in religion and society. It was Guru Gobind Singh, the tenth Guru, who transformed the Sikhs into the Khalsa. They rose to challenge tyranny and after centuries of servitude, established a humane Punjabi Raj based on secularism and patriotism. Maharaja Ranjit Singh, in the words of a Persian writer, changed Punjab from Madam Kada to Bagh-Bahisht (from the abode of sorrow to the garden of paradise). But soon after his death, the entire edifice collapsed due to internal intrigues and British machinations. After two abortive Anglo-Sikh wars, Punjab was finally annexed to the British Empire in 1849.

The fight against the British rule had begun long before Mahatma Gandhi’s arrival on the scene. The revolt found expression through the movement of a revivalist or reformist character. First, it was the Namdhari sect, which believed in self-discipline and self-rule. Later, it was Lala Lajpat Rai who played a leading role in the Freedom Movement. Punjab was in the vanguard of India’s freedom struggle on all fronts in India and abroad. Punjab’s hardships did not end with Independence, as it had to face the misery of Partition with large-scale bloodshed and migration. Besides their rehabilitation, there was the task of reorganisation of the State.

Eight princely states of East Punjab were grouped together to form a single state called PEPSU—Patiala and the East Punjab States Union—with Patiala as its capital. PEPSU state was merged with Punjab in 1956. Later in 1966, Haryana was carved out of Punjab.

Situated in the north-western corner of the country, Punjab is bound on the west by Pakistan, on the north by Jammu and Kashmir, on the north-east by Himachal Pradesh, and on the south by Haryana and Rajasthan.

Punjab State, with only 1.5 per cent geographical area of India, produces 21 per cent of wheat, 10 per cent rice and 12 per cent of cotton in the country. Now the cropping intensity of Punjab is more than 186 per cent, and the State, which has earned the name of ‘‘Food basket of country and granary of India’’ has been pooling 40-50 per cent of rice and 50-70 per cent of wheat for the last two decades, and compared to the world, it produces 1 per cent of rice, 2 per cent of wheat, and 2 per cent of cotton of the total world production. Whereas, it consumes 8 per cent of total fertilizer consumption. In Punjab, per hectare consumption of fertilizer is 177 kg as compared to 90 kg at national level.

There are 2.03 lakh small-scale units in the State. These units produce bicycle parts, sewing machines, hand tools, machine tools, auto parts, electronic items, sports goods, surgical instruments, leather goods, hosiery, knitwear, nuts and bolts, textiles, sugar, vegetable oil, etc. A large number of Information Technology and Software Development Companies are coming up in the State. With the setting up of Earth Station in Mohali and laying of fibre optic cables in the State, basic infrastructure has been established for the growth of Information Technology industry.

Punjab being an agrarian state, a very high priority is being given to agriculture development. The water available in Punjab is much less as compared to the land potential. Therefore, to maximise production per unit of water resources, it is emphasised to utilise every drop of water available judiciously and carefully. Due to better irrigation management, an additional 0.97 lakh hectare of area has been brought under cotton crop in various cotton growing districts of Punjab.

Ranjit Sagar Dam is a multipurpose river valley project, which has been constructed 8 upstream of Madhopur Head Works. It comprises of 160 metre high earth core-cum-gravel shell dam on river Ravi with a gross storage capacity of 3,280 million cu. mts. It provides augmentation of irrigation potential to the tune of 3.48 lakh hectares of land. The backward Kandi Area in Punjab has been developed by construction of 11 Low Dams irrigating an area of 12,000 hectares of land, and Kandi Canal system irrigating an area of 12,000 Ha, and completion of Kandi canal will irrigate an area of 19,867 Ha, brining in green revolution to the area. On the irrigation front, about 60 per cent of the total irrigated land is served private/government tubewells, and remaining 40 per cent is irrigated through canals.

The construction of Bhakra Nangal Complex, including Bhakra Dam, Bhakra Main line, Nangal Hydel Channel, Ganguwal and Kotla Power House, Harike Barrage, Sirhing Feeder, remodelling of Madhopur Headworks into Barrage, etc., and Beas Dam at Pong have been some of the major Irrigation and Hydroelectric Projects, which have played a significant role in enhancing the irrigation and power potential of the State. Madhopur Beas Link was constructed to transfer surplus water of Ravi to Beas. A similar Beas-Sutlej Link Project envisages the utilisation of the Beas water for the production of electricity at Slapper, and then transferring this water to Gobind Sagar lake. The Mukerian and Anandpur Sabib Hydroelectric projects are two important irrigation and power projects.


Roads: Public Works Department Building and Roads branch has been responsible for assets of State Government in terms of roads, bridges and buildings. The road network comprises of: National Highways- 1,717 km; State Highways- 1,485 km; Major District Roads- 1,808 km; Other District Roads- 4,081 km; Plan Road Length- 7,374 km; and Rural Link Roads- 41,700 km.

Punjab Roads and Bridges Development Board was established as a statutory body in 1998 with the enactment of PRBDB Act (No. 22) of 1998, with the basic aim of mobilising additional resources for state roads.

Railways: The length of the rail routes passing through the State is around 3,726.06 km. Rail communication with Pakistan also emanates from Punjab (Amritsar).

Aviation: There are Four Civil Aviation Clubs at Ludhiana, Patiala, Amritsar and Jalandhar, one domestic airport at Chandigarh; International Airport at Rajasansi (Amritsar) and two aerodromes at Patiala and Sahnewal (Ludhiana).

Fairs and Festivals
Besides festivals of Dussehra, Diwali, Holi, other important festivals/fairs/melas are Maghi Mela at Mukatsar, Rural Sports at Kila Raipur, Basant at Patiala, Hola Mohalla at Anandpur Sahib, Baisakhi at Talwandi Saboo, Urs at Rauza Sharif at Sirhind, Chappar Mela at Chappar, Sheikh Farid Agam Purb at Faridkot, Ram Tirath at Village Ram Tirath, Shaheedi Jor Mela at Sirhind, Harballah Sangeet Sammelan at Jalandhar and Baba Sodal at Jalandhar. In addition to above fairs and festivals, 3 heritage festivals at Amritsar, Patiala, Kapurthalla are also celebrated every year and are very popular among the tourists.

Sun Temple, Konark Arrow
Bhangra - Folk Dance, Punjab


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The Punjab Tourism Development Corporation is running 17 complexes, including 3 Hotel at Amritsar, 6 Filling stations and 4 Holiday Homes. In addition, 2 Complexes and one Banquet Hall at Pathankot have been given on lease/license to the private parties. Shops at Floating Restaurant, Sirhind, Tourist Complex, Ropar; Tourist Complex Madhopur and Tourist Complex, Moga have been licensed out to the private parties to run the gift shops. The state also has a large number of places of tourist interest, some of which include Golden Temple, Durgiana Mandir, Jallianwala Bagh in Amritsar, Takhat Keshgarh Sahib and Khalsa Heritage Complex at Anandpur Sahib, Bhakhra Dam, Quila Androon and Moti Bagh Palace at Patiala, Wet land at Harike Pattan, Sanghol for archaeological importance and Chhatbir Zoo, Mughal Monument Complex at Aam Khas Bagh, and Roza Sharif of Sheikh Ahmed at Sirhind with graves of Afghan Rulers, Sodal Temple at Jalandhar, and Ram Tirath Commemorative Maharishi Balmiki’s heritage.

Golden Temple, Amritsar Arrow
Golden Temple, Amritsar


View exhaustive collection of pictures on India at Photo Gallery section.


  India 2006 - A Reference Annual © Research, Reference and Training Division, Published by Publications Division, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Government of India.
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