Punjab is a state in the northwest of the Republic of India, forming part of the larger Punjab region. The state is bordered by the Indian states of Himachal Pradesh to the east, Haryana to the south and southeast and Rajasthan to the southwest as well as the Pakistani province of Punjab to the west. It is also bounded to the north by Jammu and Kashmir. The state capital is located in Chandigarh, which is a Union Territory and also the capital of the neighbouring state of Haryana.
Major cities of Punjab include Amritsar, Jalandhar, Ludhiana, Patiala, Tarn Taran Sahib, Nawanshahr, Firozpur, Bathinda and Mohali. After the partition of India in 1947, the Punjab province of British India was divided between India and Pakistan. The Indian Punjab was divided in 1966 with the formation of the new states of Haryana and Himachal Pradesh, as well as the current state of Punjab. Punjab is the only state in India with a majority Sikh population.
According to India Today, a leading magazine in India, Punjab was recognized as the best overall state since 2003 and has been able to retain the top position every year. It affords the best quality of life to its residents. According to the India State Hunger Index, Punjab has the lowest level of hunger in India. Punjab has the best infrastructure in all of India. Although it has a huge shortage of electricity due to high demand, all major cities in Punjab benefit from this and have some of the lowest tariffs in India. All of Punjab's villages have been provided electricity and have been connected to the state electrical power grid since 1974. Punjab is one of the most fertile regions on earth. The region is ideal for wheat-growing. Rice, sugar cane, fruits and vegetables are also grown. Indian Punjab is called the "Granary of India" or "India's bread-basket".
It produces 10.26% of India's cotton, 19.5% of India's wheat, and 11% of India's rice. The Fazilka and Ferozpur Districts are the largest producers of wheat and rice in the state. In worldwide terms, Indian Punjab produces 2% of the World's cotton, 2% of its wheat and 1% of its rice. The largest cultivated crop is wheat. Other important crops are rice, cotton, sugarcane, pearl millet, maize, barley and fruit. Rice and wheat are doublecropped in Punjab with rice stalks being burned off over millions of acres prior to the planting of wheat. This widespread practice is polluting and wasteful.
Bhangra is a form of dance and music that originated in the Punjab region. Bhangra dance began as a folk dance conducted by Punjabi farmers to celebrate the coming of the harvest season. The specific moves of Bhangra reflect the manner in which villagers farmed their land. This hybrid dance became Bhangra. The folk dance has been popularised in the western world by Punjabis in England and the USA where competitions are held. It is seen in the West as an expression of South Asian culture as a whole. Today, Bhangra dance survives in different forms and styles all over the globe – including pop music, film soundtracks, collegiate competitions and cultural shows.
The folk heritage of the Punjab reflects its thousands of years of history. While Majhi and Doabi are considered to be the standard dialect of Punjabi language, there are a number of local dialects through which the people communicate. These include Malwai, Malwai and Pwadhi. The songs, ballads, epics and romances are generally written and sung in these dialects. There are a number of folk tales that are popular in Punjab. These are the folk tales of Mirza Sahiban, Heer Ranjha, Sohni Mahiwal, Sassi Punnun, Dulla Bhatti, Puran Baghat, Jeona Maud etc. The mystic folk songs and religious songs include the Shalooks of Sikh gurus, Baba Farid and others. They also include Kafis, Hamds, Baits, Dohas, Lohris, Sehra, and Jugni. The most famous of the romantic love songs are Mayhiah, Dhola and Boliyan. Punjabi romantic dances include Dhamaal, Bhangra, Giddha, Dhola, and Sammi and some other local folk dances.
Tourism in Indian Punjab centres around the historic palaces, battle sites, and the great Sikh architecture of the state and the surrounding region. Examples include various sites of the Indus Valley Civilization, the ancient fort of Bathinda, the architectural monuments of Kapurthala, Patiala, and Chandigarh, the modern capital designed by Le Corbusier. The Golden Temple in Amritsar is one of the major tourist destinations of Punjab and indeed India, attracting more visitors than the Taj Mahal, Lonely Planet Bluelist 2008 has voted the Harmandir Sahib as one of the world’s best spiritual sites. Moreover, there is a rapidly expanding array of international hotels in the holy city that can be booked for overnight stays.
The Shivalik area is the richest area of Punjab in terms of floral and faunal diversity, and has been identified as one of the micro-endemic zones of India. Amongst the angiosperms, about 355 species of herbs, 70 tree species, 70 species of shrubs or under shrubs, 19 of climbers and 21 species of twiners have been recorded from the area. Apart from angiosperms, 31 species of pteridophytes, 27 of bryophytes and one species of gymnosperms (Pinus roxburghii) have also been recorded.
The area is also rich in faunal diversity, including 396 species of birds, 214 species of Lepidoptera, 55 species of fish, 20 species of reptiles, and 19 species of mammals. here are a number of wetlands, bird sanctuaries and zoological parks across Punjab. These include the Hari-Ke-Pattan National Wetland and Wildlife Sanctuary at Harike in Tarn Taran Sahib District, the Kanjli Wetland, the Kapurthala Sutlej Water Body Wetland, the Ropar Zoological Park, Chhatbir, Bansar Garden, Sangrur, the Aam Khas Bagh, Sirhind, the Ram Bagh Garden Amritsar, the Shalimar Garden, Kapurthala and the Baradari Garden at Patiala.
Vegetation & Plants:
There are no natural forests in the plains; extensive tracts occur covered only with grass, shrubs and bushes. The mango fruit is largely cultivated in the southeast of the Punjab and attains a high degree of perfection about Multan and Hoshiarpur. Cultivated fruit trees, such as orange, pomegranate, apple, peach, fig, mulberry, quince, apricot, almond, and plum are abundant in the region.