Punjab Geography and History

The fountainhead of ancient Indian culture, Punjab, the smiling-soul of India finds adequate mention in the chronicles of the Ramayana and the Mahabharata, thePuranas and the Vedas. The geography and history of this state can be traced as far back as the Indus Valley civilization.

The state whose prolific history and culture witnessed the composition of the Rig Veda was also an ancient center for academic excellence where grammer, law, astrology, medicine and warfare were taught. Yasak's Nirkuta and Panini's Ashtadhyayi are two celebrated Punjabi classics.

Punjab at the crossroads of cultural conflict became the focal point of Buddhist teachings after King Darius's conquests. However the religious face of Punjab underwent a rapid transition after Guru Nanak Dev preached Sikhism to the locals of Punjab.

The state played a zealous and unmistakable role in India's struggle for independence. The horrors of the Jalianwala bagh massacre and the heart-wrenching pain of the Partition have cast an unforgettable impression in people's minds. Post-independence, Punjab has tried and emerged successful in establishing itself as a center of cultural, religious and academic excellence after its horrific saga of suffering over the decades.

The state encompasses an area of 50,362 sq. km and is flanked by Pakistan on the west, Jammu and Kashmir on the north, Himachal Pradesh on its northeast and Haryana and Rajasthan on the south. The fertile terrains span across the latitudinal parallels of 29°30' North to 32°32'North and the longitudinal meridians of 73°55' East to 76°50' East. Searing summers, torrential monsoons and cool winters depict the climatic conditions of the landscape that is drained by the Ravi, Beas, Satluj and Ghaggar rivers and their tributaries.

Geography of Punjab

he state of Punjab stretches from 29°32°' to 32°32°'N latitude and 73°55°' to 76°50°'E longitude, occupying a land of 50,362 sq. kms in the north-western part of India. It is wedged between Pakistan on the west, Jammu and 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 Shivalik area at an altitude of 400 to 700 meters above sea level is made up of fluvial deposits of conglomerates, clays and silts-all.

The low Shivalik Hills demarcates the Himalayas from the plains. Ropar, Hoshiarpur and Gudaspur districts falls in this zone and runs 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 plain lands of Punjab lie between altitudes 180 meters and 300 meters above sea level. The gradient increases from west to east.

History of Punjab

The history of Punjab goes back to thousands of years ago. Undivided Punjab has been the cradle of the Indus Valley Civilization, Harappan Civilization as well as the Mohenjodaro Civilization. This fertile ancient land finds mention even in Mahabharata and Ramayana. Places like Ropar, Kiratpur, Dholbaha, Rohira and Ghuram...all in Punjab have unearthed artifacts that date back to centuries earlier. The word "Punjab", however, was used for the first time in the Book "Tarikh-e-Sher Shah" (1580).

Major Events in the History of Punjab

The milestones in the history of Punjab are the Persian rule and 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 Muslims ruled between 713 AD till around 1300 AD and then came the rise of the Sikhs from 1700 AD to 1849 AD.

Punjab in the Indian Struggle for Independence

Punjab had always ranked high when it comes to courage, might and valor. The state had major contribution to the freedom struggle of India though in the process it had to face its own pathetic division. Satyagraha, Sepoy Mutiny of 1857, Jallianwala Bagh Massacre... with names like Ajit Singh, Lala Lajpat Rai, Madan Lal Dhingra, Guru Gobind Singh, Bhagat Singh and the like instantly evokes the memories of the struggle for Indian Independence. The list is unending 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.

Present Day Punjab

The partition of Punjab with its brutal riots was one of the most traumatic experiences for some and it continues to have its effect till today. The newly formed state of Pakistan has, time and again, tried to encroach the whole of the fertile lands of Punjab resulting in continuous bloodshed over the years. But Punjab has been able to defend herself against all odds and have improved considerably. The flourishing position of the state in terms of agriculture, industries, education and all other fields prove the tenacity that is so unique to the state and its people.