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PUNJAB                                               General Information of Punjab

Punjab a region covering a part of Eastern Pakistan & Northern India, and bordered by 5 rivers, has a long history and strong cultural heritage. The people of the Punjab are called Punjabis and they speak a language called Punjabi.  The three main religions in the area are Sikhism, Hinduism, and Islam. The region has been invaded and ruled by many different empires and races, including the Aryans, Persians, Greeks, Muslims, and Mongols. Around the time of the 15th Century, Guru Nanak Dev founded the Sikh religion, which quickly came to prominence in the region. The 19th Century saw the beginning of British rule, which led to the emergence of several heroic Punjabi freedom fighters. Finally, the Punjab was split between Pakistan and India at the end of British rule in 1947.

Many races of people and religions made up the cultural heritage of the Punjab. Punjab is the land where spiritual aspirations arose. This heroic land bore numerous invasions, and after all its suffering, did not entirely lose its glory and its strength. Here it was that the gentle Nanak preached his marvellous love for the world. Here it was that his broad heart opened and his arms outstretched to embrace the whole world.

One of the earliest stone age cultures of South Asia nourished in the Punjab. People generally accept that about eight centuries before Christ, the Punjab was the most enlightened and the prosperous region in the world. The Harappa civilization developed in Punjab and its culture spread to Iran, Afghanistan, Balochistan, and north-western parts of South Asia.

The Vedic and Epic period of the Punjab was socially and culturally very prolific as during this glorious period, the people accelerated in the fields of philosophy and culture. Here the people composed the Rig Veda and the Upanishads. Further, tradition maintains that Valmiki composed the Ramayana near the present Amritsar city and Kaikyee belonged to this region. Lord Krishna gave the divine message of the Gita at Kurukshetra. It was here that people wrote eighteen principal Puranas. The authors of Vishnu Purana and the Shiv Purano belonged to the central Punjab.

Right from the invasion of Alexander in 326 B.C., the Punjab bore the brunt of incursions and the aggressive assaults of the hordes from the north. During the gruesome period great kings like Porus, Chandragupta Maurya, Ashoka and host of other heroes emerged to defend Punjab from the onslaughts.

During Mughal rule, there was lots of conflict, chaos, and political upheavals in the Punjab. Appearance of Guru Nanak (1469-1538) was an event significant not only for the region but for the whole country. He was the founder of a powerful popular movement which has left a lasting impression on the history and culture of all of South Asia. Born in the district of Sheikhupura, he rejected the division of mankind into rigid compartments of orthodox religions and preached the oneness of humanity, and oneness of God, thus aiming at creating a new order which embraced the all pervasive spirit in man. He condemned and ridiculed the false and unnatural notions of high and low in society, He denounced idolatory and laid stress on meditation for the realization of the Universal self.

British intrution had political, cultural, philosophical and literary consequences in the Punjab. The opening of a new system of education introduced a new spirit in the life of the Punjabis. More people realized the greatness of Punjabi culture. During the freedom movement, Punjab played a role worthy of its name. Many heroes emerged from the Punjab such as Lajpat Rai, Ajit Singh, Bhagat Singh, Uddham Singh, Bhal Parmanand and a host of others.

Since independence, life in the Punjab proves to be tragic and traumatic. The partition resulted in riots and terror which tore up millions of homes and destroyed many lives. The massive exodus resulting from the newly formed state of Pakistan created problems of uncontrollable dimensions. The Punjabis trekked in blood and shreds.

However, the Punjabi spirit of tenacity and toughness sustained the uprooted people. The disillusioned people set to work with no self pity to plough fresh fields. They built new industries and became prominent in sports. Punjabis attained an eminent place in cultural, aesthetic, and literary work, and revived folk art, song, dance and drama. All of this has created a sense of pride and climate of involvement in the heritage of the Punjab.

Amritsar

Amritsar is located in Indian Punjab near the border. In the summer, Amritsar gets very hot, sometimes reaching temperatures above 50C. The city is an important regional market center for agricultural goods and the center for India's border security. Manufacturing products include textiles, particularly carpets, silks, and brocades.

Place to Visit

Amritsar is the most important religious center of the Sikhs, who make up about one-third of the city's inhabitants. The city was founded in 1577 by Ram Das, the fourth Sikh guru, on land furnished by the Mogul emperor Akbar. Ram Das also began construction of the Amrita Saras, meaning the Pool of Immortality, an artificial lake from which the city takes its name. On an island in the lake is the most important Sikh shrine, the Golden Temple, so called because of its copper roof covered with gold foil. In its present form the temple, which contains the most sacred texts of the Sikhs, the Guru Granth Sahib, dates from the reign (1792-1839) of the Sikh ruler Ranjit Singh.

In addition, Amritsar is where the Amritsar Massacre took place. On April 13, 1919 troops commanded by the British general Reginald Dyer fired on an Indian crowd peacefully demonstrating against the Rowlatt Acts, by which the British administration had recently given itself emergency powers. Casualties were officially estimated at 379 deaths and some 1,200 wounded. The site of the massacre, an open area called the Jallianwallah Bagh, close to the Golden Temple, is now maintained as a national shrine.

Chandigarh

Chandigarh, the capital of the Punjab state, is near the foothills of the Himalayas. The summers are hot, with temperatures rising to about 46C, and the winters are cool. In 1966, when the former East Punjab was further divided into Punjab and Haryana, Chandigarh became the capital of Punjab and a temporary capital of Haryana. It is the site of Punjab University. The city, designed by the French architect Le Corbusier, and begun in 1950, is considered an outstanding example of Urban Planning. A complex of government buildings stands at one end. The town center is surrounded by residential neighborhoods and a hierarchical system of roads with green buffer zones.
Villages of Punjab
To really get a feel of Punjab, one must visit the villages. Punjab is a region of villages. There are many cities, but the majority of the people live in villages. Definately try to see some villages, they are very beautiful.


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