|AREA IN Sq. km||50,000|
Punjab is situated in the northwestern corner of the country. It is bounded on the north by the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir, on the east by Himachal Pradesh and the Union territory of Chandigarh, on the south by Haryana and Rajasthan, and on the west by Pakistan. The city of Chandigarh is the joint administrative capital of Punjab and Haryana.
The word Punjab is a compound of two Persian words, panj ("five") and ab ("water"), signifying historically the land of five waters, or rivers. Owing to territorial changes, however, only two of the rivers referred to (the Sutlej and the Beas) lie within the boundaries of India's Punjab.
Punjab has a single-chamber legislative assembly with 117 seats. The state sends 19 members to the Indian national parliament; 7 to the Rajya Sabha (Upper House) and 12 to the Lok Sabha (Lower House). The state is made up of 12 districts.
Punjab has a recorded history beginning from the annexation of Punjab and Sindh to the Persian Empire by Darius (c. 518 B.C). Many Muslim emperors ruled over Punjab before the Mughals entered the political scene in 1526. Under the Mughals, Punjab enjoyed relative peace and prosperity which lasted for more than 200 years. Later, British rule took over Punjab after a period of vigorous struggle by the Sikhs against the foreign domination. When India finally attained Independence in 1947, Punjab was split into two parts, the larger portion becoming a part of Pakistan. The Partition resulted in a brutal lose of lives and properties. The present provincial boundaries were drawn in 1970.
According to the census of 1991, Punjab had a population of 20,281,986, with an average density of 403 persons per sq km. The population of Punjab consists mainly of Punjabis, Jats and Rajputs. Punjabi, the principal spoken language of present-day Punjab is also the official state language, written in the Gurmukhi script. The majority 60 per cent of the population follow Sikhism, a faith originated from the teachings of Nanak, the first Sikh Guru. The largest minority is Hindu followed by Muslims, Buddhists, Christian and Jains. Scheduled castes of both the Hindu and Sikh religion constitute about one-fourth of the Punjab’s population. The literacy rate of Punjab is 59%.
The culture of Punjab is best reflected in its folklore, ballads of love and war, fairs and festivals, dancing, music and literature. Punjab holds numerous religious and seasonal festivals, such as Dussehra, Diwali, and Baisakhi, as well as anniversary celebrations in honour of Gurus and saints. The bhangra, jhumar, and sammi are the popular dance forms. The giddha, a native Punjabi form, is a humorous song-dance performed by women. In addition to Sikh religious music, semiclassical Mughal forms, such as the khayal, thumri, ghazal, and qawwali, continue to be popular. Punjabi literature owes its origin to the mystical and religious writings of the 13th century Muslim sufi (mystic) Shikh Farid and of the 15th-16th century Guru Nanak, founder of the Sikh faith, who were the first to use Punjabi extensively as medium of their politically tinged poetic pursuits. Author Bhai Vir Singh and the poets Puran Singh and Dhani Ram Chatrik inaugurated the modern Punjabi literature at the beginning of the 20th century.
Punjab is also famous for its handicraft products. Young girls in villages weave durries (cotton bed or floor spreads) in different attractive designs. Needlework of Punjab is unique. Baghs, Phulkaris, rumals and scarves are intricately designed in rich traditional patterns and motifs. The woodwork of Punjab is exquisitely beautiful. Artistic beds with comfortable, skillfully made back rests fitted with mirrors and carved colourful legs called Pawas, low seats called Peeras, Peerian were made by the carpenters in almost every village. Furniture designed with inlay ivory work, coloured mirror and engraved woodwork is also exported to different countries.
Agriculture is the main occupation of the people of Punjab and forms the backbone of the state economy. More than 80 percent of Punjab is cultivated. Punjab alone contributed about 62 per cent of wheat, and 50 per cent of rice, to the central pool in the 1994-95 seasons, despite the fact, that it comprises only 1.53 per cent of the area in the country. The major crops are wheat, maize (corn), rice, pulses (legumes), sugarcane, and cotton. Among the livestock raised are buffalo and other cattle, sheep, goats, and poultry. The principal industries include the manufacture of textiles, sewing machines, sporting goods, starch, fertilizers, bicycles, scientific instruments, electrical goods, and machine tools, and the processing of sugar and pine oil.
Punjab has developed a network of about 30,000 miles of road, of which about 75 percent are surfaced. A fairly dense and efficient network of the Northern railway zone- a part of the national railway system - exists in Punjab. Regular air passenger service from Delhi to Chandigarh and to the Punjabi cities of Amritsar, Ludhiana, and Bathinda is available. Like the railways, the postal and telegraph services and radio and television broadcasting are under the central government's control.
Punjab is dotted with places of historical and cultural interest. Ropar, one of the centers of Indus Valley Civiliztion, Amritsar, the city of the Golden Temple, the ancient fort of Bhatinda, the architectural monuments of Kapurthala, the City of Gardens, Patiala and Chandigarh, the capital designed by the Swiss-born French architect Le Corbusier are among the leading tourist attractions of the state.