|Area||50,362 sq km|
History and Geography: Ancient Punjab formed part of the vast Indo-Iranian region. In later years it saw the rise and fall of the Mauryas, Bactrians, Greeks, Sakas, Kushans and Guptas. Medieval Punjab saw a supremacy of the Muslims. Ghaznavi was followed by the Ghoris, the slaves, the Khiljis, the Tughlaks, 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. Sikkim 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-Bahist (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 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. 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.