Punjab region Source: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Punjab_region

پنجاب • ਪੰਜਾਬ
Land of the five rivers
Location of Punjab in South Asia
Location of Punjab in South Asia
Coordinates: 31°N 74°E / 31°N 74°E / 31; 74Coordinates: 31°N 74°E / 31°N 74°E / 31; 74
AreasSee below
 • Total358,354.5 km2 (138,361.4 sq mi)
 (2011, India / 2017, Pakistan)[1][2][3][4][5][6][7]
 • Totalc. 190 million in India and Pakistan
 • Ethnic groupsPunjabis
Minor: Haryanvis, Himachalis, Dogras, Hindkowans, Saraikis, Pashtuns, Muhajirs, Kashmiris, Biharis[8]
 • LanguagesPunjabi and others
 • ReligionsIslam (60%)
Hinduism (29%)
Sikhism (10%)
Christianity (1%)
Others (<1%)
Time zonesUTC+05:30 (IST (India))
UTC+05:00 (PKT (Pakistan))
Population, area and religious figures based on Punjab province borders

Punjab (/pʌnˈɑːb, -ˈæb, ˈpʌn-/; Gurmukhi: ਪੰਜਾਬ; Shahmukhi: پنجاب; Punjabi: [pənˈdʒaːb] (listen); also romanised as Panjāb or Panj-Āb)[a] is a geopolitical, cultural, and historical region in South Asia, specifically in the northern part of the Indian subcontinent, comprising areas of eastern Pakistan and northwestern India. Punjab's major cities are Lahore, Faisalabad, Rawalpindi, Gujranwala, Multan, Ludhiana, Amritsar, Sialkot, Chandigarh, Shimla, Jalandhar, Gurugram, and Bahawalpur.

Punjab grew out of the settlements along the five rivers, which served as an important route to the Near East as early as the ancient Indus Valley civilization, dating back to 3000 BCE,[10] and had numerous migrations by the Indo-Aryan peoples. Agriculture has been the major economic feature of the Punjab and has therefore formed the foundation of Punjabi culture, with one's social status being determined by land ownership.[10] The Punjab emerged as an important agricultural region, especially following the Green Revolution during the mid-1960s to the mid-1970s, and has been described as the "breadbasket of both India and Pakistan."[10]

Besides being known for agriculture and trade, the Punjab is also a region that over the centuries has experienced many foreign invasions and consequently has a long-standing history of warfare, as the region is vulnerably situated on the principal route of invasions through the northwestern frontier of the Indian subcontinent, including those of Persians, Macedonians, Scythians, Parthians, Kushans, Huns, Arabs, Turks, and Mongols until the eighteenth century which promoted a lifestyle that entailed engaging in warfare to protect the land,[10] with the Marathas, Durranis and British invading the region in subsequent decades.

The boundaries of the region are ill-defined and focus on historical accounts and thus the geographical definition of the term "Punjab" has changed over time. In the 16th century Mughal Empire it referred to a relatively smaller area between the Indus and the Sutlej rivers.[11] In British India, until the Partition of India in 1947, the Punjab Province encompassed the present-day Indian states and union territories of Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Chandigarh, and Delhi, and the Pakistani regions of Punjab, and Islamabad Capital Territory. It bordered the Balochistan and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa regions to the west, Kashmir to the north, the Hindi Belt to the east, and Rajasthan and Sindh to the south.

The predominant ethnolinguistic group of the Punjab region is the Punjabi people, who speak the Indo-Aryan Punjabi language. Punjabi Muslims are the majority in West Punjab (Pakistan), while Punjabi Sikhs and Punjabi Hindus are the majority in East Punjab (India). Other religious groups are Christianity, Jainism, Zoroastrianism, Buddhism, and Ravidassia.


Although the name Punjab is of Persian origin, its two parts (پنج, panj, 'five' and آب, āb, 'water') are cognates of the Sanskrit words, पञ्‍च, pañca, 'five' and अप्, áp, 'water', of the same meaning.[9][12] The word pañjāb thus means "The Land of Five Waters," referring to the rivers Jhelum, Chenab, Ravi, Sutlej, and Beas.[13] All are tributaries of the Indus River, the Sutlej being the largest. References to a land of five rivers may be found in the Mahabharata, which calls one of the regions in ancient Bharat Panchanada (Sanskrit: पञ्चनद, romanizedpañca-nada, lit.'five rivers').[14][15] Persian place names are very common in Northwest India and Pakistan. The ancient Greeks referred to the region as Pentapotamía (Greek: Πενταποταμία),[16][17][18] which has the same meaning as the Persian word.


The Punjab region of India and Pakistan has a historical and cultural link to Indo-Aryan peoples as well as partially to various indigenous communities. As a result of several invasions from Central Asia and the Middle East, many ethnic groups and religions make up the cultural heritage of the Punjab.

Ancient period[edit]

Taxila in Pakistan is a World Heritage Site
One of the first known kings of ancient Punjab, King Porus who fought against Alexander the Great.

The Punjab region is noted as the site of one of the earliest urban societies, the Indus Valley Civilization that flourished from about 3000 B.C. and declined rapidly 1,000 years later, following the Indo-Aryan migrations that overran the region in waves between 1500 and 500 B.C.[19] Frequent intertribal wars stimulated the growth of larger groupings ruled by chieftains and kings, who ruled local kingdoms known as Mahajanapadas.[19] The rise of kingdoms and dynasties in the Punjab is chronicled in the ancient Hindu epics, particularly the Mahabharata.[19] The epic battles described in the Mahabharata are chronicled as being fought in what is now the state of Haryana and historic Punjab. The Gandharas, Kambojas, Trigartas, Andhra, Pauravas, Bahlikas (Bactrian settlers of the Punjab), Yaudheyas, and others sided with the Kauravas in the great battle fought at Kurukshetra.[20] According to Dr Fauja Singh and Dr. L. M. Joshi: "There is no doubt that the Kambojas, Daradas, Kaikayas, Andhra, Pauravas, Yaudheyas, Malavas, Saindhavas, and Kurus had jointly contributed to the heroic tradition and composite culture of ancient Punjab."[21]

The earliest known notable local king of this region was known as King Porus, who fought the famous Battle of the Hydaspes against Alexander the Great. His kingdom spanned between rivers Hydaspes (Jhelum) and Acesines (Chenab); Strabo had held the territory to contain almost 300 cities.[22] He (alongside Abisares) had a hostile relationship with the Kingdom of Taxila which was ruled by his extended family.[22] When the armies of Alexander crossed Indus in its eastward migration, probably in Udabhandapura, he was greeted by the-then ruler of Taxila, Omphis.[22] Omphis had hoped to force both Porus and Abisares into submission leveraging the might of Alexander's forces and diplomatic missions were mounted, but while Abisares accepted the submission, Porus refused.[22] This led Alexander to seek for a face-off with Porus.[22] Thus began the Battle of the Hydaspes in 326 BC; the exact site remains unknown.[22] The battle is thought to be resulted in a decisive Greek victory; however, A. B. Bosworth warns against an uncritical reading of Greek sources who were obviously exaggerative.[22]

Alexander later founded two cities—Nicaea at the site of victory and Bucephalous at the battle-ground, in memory of his horse, who died soon after the battle.[22][b] Later, tetradrachms would be minted depicting Alexander on horseback, armed with a sarissa and attacking a pair of Indians on an elephant.[22][23] Porus refused to surrender and wandered about atop an elephant, until he was wounded and his force routed.[22] When asked by Alexander how he wished to be treated, Porus replied "Treat me as a king would treat another king".[24] Despite the apparently one-sided results, Alexander was impressed by Porus and chose to not depose him.[25][26][27] Not only was his territory reinstated but also expanded with Alexander's forces annexing the territories of Glausaes, who ruled to the northeast of Porus' kingdom.[25]

After Alexander's death in 323 BCE, Perdiccas became the regent of his empire, and after Perdiccas's murder in 321 BCE, Antipater became the new regent.[28] According to Diodorus, Antipater recognized Porus's authority over the territories along the Indus River. However, Eudemus, who had served as Alexander's satrap in the Punjab region, treacherously killed Porus.[29] The battle is historically significant because it resulted in the syncretism of ancient Greek political and cultural influences to the Indian subcontinent, yielding works such as Greco-Buddhist art, which continued to have an impact for the ensuing centuries. The region was then divided between the Maurya Empire and the Greco-Bactrian Kingdom in 302 B.C.E. Menander I Soter conquered Punjab and made Sagala (present-day Sialkot) the capital of the Indo-Greek Kingdom.[30][31] Menander is noted for having become a patron and convert to Greco-Buddhism and he is widely regarded as the greatest of the Indo-Greek kings.[32] Greek influence in the region ended around 12 B.C.E. when the Punjab fell under the Sassanids.

Medieval period[edit]

Islam emerged as the major power in southern Punjab after the Umayyad Caliphate conquered the region in 711 AD.[19] The city of Multan became a center of the Ismaili sect of Islam. In the ninth century, the Hindu Shahi dynasty emerged in the Punjab, ruling much of Punjab and eastern Afghanistan.[19] The 10th century Arab historian Masudi mentioned that in his time the kings of Gandhara were all called Hajaj, J.haj or Ch'hach, while the area itself was called "country of the Rahbūt" (Rajputs).[33] The character transliterated to "Hahaj" and Alexander Cunningham had it equated to the Janjua tribe/clan.[34] Rahman doubts this theory and instead transliterates to "J.haj", an Arabicised form of Chhachh, which is even today the name of the region around the Hindu Shahi capital of Hund.[34] In the 10th century, this region was occupied by the tribe of the Gakhars/Khokhars, who formed a large part of the Hindu Shahi army according to the Persian historian Firishta.[34]

Horseman on a coin of Spalapati, i.e. the "War-lord" of the Hindu Shahis. The headgear has been interpreted as a turban.[35]

The Turkic Ghaznavids in the tenth century overthrew the Hindu Shahis and consequently ruled for 157 years, gradually declining as a power until the Ghurid conquest of Lahore by Muhammad of Ghor in 1186, deposing the last Ghaznavid ruler Khusrau Malik.[36] Following the death of Muhammad of Ghor in 1206, the Ghurid state fragmented and was replaced in northern India by the Delhi Sultanate. The Delhi Sultanate ruled the Punjab for the next three hundred years, led by five unrelated dynasties, the Mamluks, Khalajis, Tughlaqs, Sayyids and Lodis. 15th century saw rise of many prominent Muslims from Punjab. Khizr Khan established the Sayyid dynasty, the fourth dynasty of the Delhi Sultanate after the fall of the Tughlaqs.[37] A contemporary writer Yahya Sirhindi mentions in his Takhrikh-i-Mubarak Shahi that Khizr Khan was a descendant of prophet Muhammad.[38] Members of the dynasty derived their title, Sayyid, or the descendants of the Islamic prophet, Muhammad, based on the claim that they belonged to his lineage through his daughter Fatima. However, Yahya Sirhindi based his conclusions on unsubstantial evidence, the first being a casual recognition by the famous saint Sayyid Jalaluddin Bukhari of Uch Sharif of his Sayyid heritage,[39] and secondly the noble character of the Sultan which distinguished him as a Prophet's descendant.[40] According to Richard M. Eaton, Khizr Khan was son of a Punjabi chieftain.[37] He was a Khokhar chieftain who travelled to Samarkand and profited from the contacts he made with the Timurid society[41] Later on, Delhi Sultanate, weakened by invasion of Emir Timur, could not control all regions of the Empire and different local kingdoms appeared. In 1407, Sultan Muzaffar Shah I, a Tank Rajput[42] or a Khatri[43] Muslim from Punjab[44] established the Gujarat Sultanate.

Copper coin of Muzaffar Shah, founder of the Gujarat Sultanate.[44]

In 1445, Sultan Qutbudin, chief of Langah, a Jat Zamindar tribe[45][46][47][48] established the Langah Sultanate in Multan. Another prominent name is that of Jasrath Khokhar who helped Sultan Zain Ul Abideen of Kashmir to gain his throne and ruled over vast tracts of Jammu and North Punjab. He also conquered Delhi for a brief period in 1431 but was driven out by Mubarak Shah.[49]

Modern period[edit]

The Mughals came to power in the early sixteenth century and gradually expanded to control all of the Punjab from their capital at Lahore. During the Mughal era, Saadullah Khan, born into a family of Jat agriculturalists[50] belonging to the Thaheem tribe[51] from Chiniot[52] remained Grand vizier (or Prime Minister) of the Mughal Empire in the period 1645–1656.[52] Other prominent Muslims from Punjab who rose to nobility during the Mughal Era include Wazir Khan,[53] Adina Beg Arain,[54] and Shahbaz Khan Kamboh.[55] The Mughal Empire ruled the region until it was severely weakened in the eighteenth century.[19] As Mughal power weakened, Afghan rulers took control of the region.[19] Contested by Marathas and Afghans, the region was the center of the growing influence of the Sikhs, who expanded and established the Sikh Empire as the Mughals and Afghans weakened, ultimately ruling the Punjab, eastern Afghanistan, and territories north into the Himalayas.[19]

Illustration of Ranjit Singh, founder of the Sikh Empire.

The Sikh Empire ruled the Punjab until the British annexed it in 1849 following the First and Second Anglo-Sikh Wars.[56] Most of the Punjabi homeland formed a province of British India, though a number of small princely states retained local rulers who recognized British authority.[19] The Punjab with its rich farmlands became one of the most important colonial assets.[19] Lahore was a noted center of learning and culture, and Rawalpindi became an important military installation.[19] Most Punjabis supported the British during World War I, providing men and resources to the war effort even though the Punjab remained a source of anti colonial activities.[57]: 163  Disturbances in the region increased as the war continued.[19] At the end of the war, high casualty rates, heavy taxation, inflation, and a widespread influenza epidemic disrupted Punjabi society.[19] In 1919 a British officer ordered his troops to fire on a crowd of demonstrators, mostly Sikhs in Amritsar. The Jallianwala massacre fueled the indian independence movement.[19] Nationalists declared the independence of India from Lahore in 1930 but were quickly suppressed.[19] When the Second World War broke out, nationalism in British India had already divided into religious movements.[19] Many Sikhs and other minorities supported the Hindus, who promised a secular multicultural and multireligious society, and Muslim leaders in Lahore passed a resolution to work for a Muslim Pakistan, making the Punjab region a center of growing conflict between Indian and Pakistani nationalists.[19] At the end of the war, the British granted separate independence to India and Pakistan, setting off massive communal violence as Muslims fled to Pakistan and Hindu and Sikh Punjabis fled east to India.[19]

The British Raj had major political, cultural, philosophical, and literary consequences in the Punjab, including the establishment of a new system of education. During the independence movement, many Punjabis played a significant role, including Madan Lal Dhingra, Sukhdev Thapar, Ajit Singh Sandhu, Bhagat Singh, Udham Singh, Kartar Singh Sarabha, Bhai Parmanand, Choudhry Rahmat Ali, and Lala Lajpat Rai. At the time of partition in 1947, the province was split into East and West Punjab. East Punjab (48%) became part of India, while West Punjab (52%) became part of Pakistan.[58] The Punjab bore the brunt of the civil unrest following partition, with casualties estimated to be in the millions.[59][60][61][62]

Another major consequence of partition was the sudden shift towards religious homogeneity occurred in all districts across Punjab owing to the new international border that cut through the province. This rapid demographic shift was primarily due to wide scale migration but also caused by large-scale religious cleansing riots which were witnessed across the region at the time. According to historical demographer Tim Dyson, in the eastern regions of Punjab that ultimately became Indian Punjab following independence, districts that were 66% Hindu in 1941 became 80% Hindu in 1951; those that were 20% Sikh became 50% Sikh in 1951. Conversely, in the western regions of Punjab that ultimately became Pakistani Punjab, all districts became almost exclusively Muslim by 1951.[63]



The geographical definition of the term "Punjab" has changed over time. In the 16th century Mughal Empire it referred to a relatively smaller area between the Indus and the Sutlej rivers.[11][64]

Sikh empire[edit]

In the 19th century, Maharaja Ranjit Singh established the Sikh Empire based in the Punjab.[65] The empire existed from 1799, when Ranjit Singh captured Lahore, to 1849, when it was defeated and conquered in the Second Anglo-Sikh War. It was forged on the foundations of the Khalsa from a collection of autonomous Sikh misls.[66][67] At its peak in the 19th century, the Empire extended from the Khyber Pass in the west to western Tibet in the east, and from Mithankot in the south to Kashmir in the north. It was divided into four provinces: Lahore, in Punjab, which became the Sikh capital; Multan, also in Punjab; Peshawar; and Kashmir from 1799 to 1849. Religiously diverse, with an estimated population of 3.5 million in 1831 (making it the 19th most populous country at the time),[68] it was the last major region of the Indian subcontinent to be annexed by the British Empire.

Map showing the Punjabi Sikh Empire.

The Sikh Empire spanned a total of over 200,000 sq mi (520,000 km2) at its zenith.[69][70][71]

The Punjab was a region straddling India and the Afghan Durrani Empire. The following modern-day political divisions made up the historical Punjab region during the Sikh Empire:

After Ranjit Singh's death in 1839, the empire was severely weakened by internal divisions and political mismanagement. This opportunity was used by the East India Company to launch the First and Second Anglo-Sikh Wars. The country was finally annexed and dissolved at the end of the Second Anglo-Sikh War in 1849 into separate princely states and the province of Punjab. Eventually, a Lieutenant Governorship was formed in Lahore as a direct representative of the Crown.[57]: 221 

Punjab (British India)[edit]

In British India, until the Partition of India in 1947, the Punjab Province was geographically a triangular tract of country of which the Indus River and its tributary the Sutlej formed the two sides up to their confluence, the base of the triangle in the north being the Lower Himalayan Range between those two rivers. Moreover, the province as constituted under British rule also included a large tract outside these boundaries. Along the northern border, Himalayan ranges divided it from Kashmir and Tibet. On the west it was separated from the North-West Frontier Province by the Indus, until it reached the border of Dera Ghazi Khan District, which was divided from Baluchistan by the Sulaiman Range. To the south lay Sindh and Rajputana, while on the east the rivers Jumna and Tons separated it from the United Provinces.[81] In total Punjab had an area of approximately 357 000 km square about the same size as modern day Germany, being one of the largest provinces of the British Raj.

Map of the Punjab Province (British India)

It encompassed the present day Indian states of Punjab, Haryana, Chandigarh, Delhi, and some parts of Himachal Pradeshwhich were merged with Punjab by the British for administrative purposes (but excluding the former princely states which were later combined into the Patiala and East Punjab States Union) and the Pakistani regions of the Punjab, Islamabad Capital Territory and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

In 1901 the frontier districts beyond the Indus were separated from Punjab and made into a new province: the North-West Frontier Province. Subsequently, Punjab was divided into four natural geographical divisions by colonial officials on the decadal census data:[82]: 2 [83]: 4 

  1. Indo-Gangetic Plain West geographical division (including Hisar district, Loharu State, Rohtak district, Dujana State, Gurgaon district, Pataudi State, Delhi, Karnal district, Jalandhar district, Kapurthala State, Ludhiana district, Malerkotla State, Firozpur district, Faridkot State, Patiala State, Jind State, Nabha State, Lahore District, Amritsar district, Gujranwala District, and Sheikhupura district);
  2. Himalayan geographical division (including Nahan State, Simla District, Simla Hill States, Kangra district, Mandi State, Suket State, and Chamba State);
  3. Sub-Himalayan geographical division (including Ambala district, Kalsia State, Hoshiarpur district, Gurdaspur district, Sialkot District, Gujrat District, Jhelum District, Rawalpindi District, and Attock District;
  4. North-West Dry Area geographical division (including Montgomery District, Shahpur District, Mianwali District, Lyallpur District, Jhang District, Multan District, Bahawalpur State, Muzaffargarh District, and Dera Ghazi Khan District).

Partition of British Punjab[edit]

The struggle for Indian independence witnessed competing and conflicting interests in the Punjab. The landed elites of the Muslim, Hindu and Sikh communities had loyally collaborated with the British since annexation, supported the Unionist Party and were hostile to the Congress party–led independence movement.[84] Amongst the peasantry and urban middle classes, the Hindus were the most active National Congress supporters, the Sikhs flocked to the Akali movement whilst the Muslims eventually supported the Muslim League.[84]

Since the partition of the sub-continent had been decided, special meetings of the Western and Eastern Section of the Legislative Assembly were held on 23 June 1947 to decide whether or not the Province of the Punjab be partitioned. After voting on both sides, partition was decided and the existing Punjab Legislative Assembly was also divided into West Punjab Legislative Assembly and the East Punjab Legislative Assembly. This last Assembly before independence, held its last sitting on 4 July 1947.[85]

Major cities[edit]

Historically, Lahore has been the capital of the Punjab region and continues to be the most populous city in the region, with a population of 11 million for the city proper. Faisalabad is the 2nd most populous city and largest industrial hub in this region. Other major cities are Rawalpindi, Gujranwala, Multan, Ludhiana, Amritsar, Jalandhar, and Chandigarh are the other cities in Punjab with a city-proper population of over a million.


The snow-covered Himalayas

The climate has significant impact on the economy of Punjab, particularly for agriculture in the region. Climate is not uniform over the whole region, as the sections adjacent to the Himalayas generally receive heavier rainfall than those at a distance.[86]

There are three main seasons and two transitional periods. During the hot season from mid-April to the end of June, the temperature may reach 49 °C (120 °F). The monsoon season, from July to September, is a period of heavy rainfall, providing water for crops in addition to the supply from canals and irrigation systems. The transitional period after the monsoon is cool and mild, leading to the winter season, when the temperature in January falls to 5 °C (41 °F) at night and 12 °C (54 °F) by day. During the transitional period from winter to the hot season, sudden hailstorms and heavy showers may occur, causing damage to crops.[87]

Western Punjab[edit]

Climate data for Islamabad (1961–1990)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 30.1
Average high °C (°F) 17.7
Daily mean °C (°F) 10.1
Average low °C (°F) 2.6
Record low °C (°F) −3.9
Average precipitation mm (inches) 56.1
Mean monthly sunshine hours 195.7 187.1 202.3 252.4 311.9 300.1 264.4 250.7 262.2 275.5 247.9 195.6 2,945.8
Source 1: NOAA (normals)[88]
Source 2: PMD (extremes)[89]

Central Punjab[edit]

Climate data for Lahore (1961–1990), extremes (1931–2018)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 27.8
Average high °C (°F) 19.8
Daily mean °C (°F) 12.8
Average low °C (°F) 5.9
Record low °C (°F) −2.2
Average rainfall mm (inches) 34.0
Mean monthly sunshine hours 218.8 215.0 245.8 276.6 308.3 269.0 227.5 234.9 265.6 290.0 259.6 222.9 3,034
Source 1: NOAA (1961-1990) [90]
Source 2: PMD[91]

Eastern Punjab[edit]

Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 27.7
Average high °C (°F) 20.5
Average low °C (°F) 5.5
Record low °C (°F) 0.0
Average rainfall mm (inches) 43.3
Average rainy days 2.8 2.7 2.0 0.8 1.6 5.5 10.8 10.9 4.8 1.4 0.8 1.4 45.5
Average relative humidity (%) (at 17:30 IST) 47 42 34 23 23 39 62 70 59 40 40 46 44
Average dew point °C (°F) 7
Average ultraviolet index 4 5 6 8 8 8 7 7 6 6 5 4 6
Source 1: India Meteorological Department[92][93]Time and Date (dewpoints, 2005-2015)[94]
Source 2: Weather Atlas[95]



Dominant Mother tongue in each Pakistani District as of the 2017 Pakistan Census

The major language is Punjabi, which is written in India with the Gurmukhi script, and in Pakistan using the Shahmukhi script.[96] The Punjabi language has official status and is widely used in education and administration in Indian Punjab, whereas in Pakistani Punjab these roles are instead fulfilled by the Urdu language.

Several languages closely related to Punjabi are spoken in the periphery of the region. Dogri,[97] Kangri,[98] and other western Pahari dialects are spoken in the north-central and northeastern peripheries of the region, while Bagri[99] is spoken in south-central and southeastern sections. Meanwhile, Saraiki is generally spoken across a wide belt covering the southwest, while in the northwest there are large pockets containing speakers of Hindko and Pothwari.[100]

Linguistic Demographics of Punjab Province (1911)
Language Percentage
1911[82]: 370 
Punjabi 58.34%
Lahnda[c] 17.59%
Western Hindi[d] 15.82%
Western Pahari 4.11%
Rajasthani 3.0%
Balochi 0.29%
Pashto 0.28%
English 0.15%
Other 0.42%


Religion in Punjab Region (2011 and 2017)[101][102][103][e]

  Islam (60.13%)
  Hinduism (28.54%)
  Sikhism (9.5%)
  Christianity (1.43%)
  Others (0.33%)


Rig Veda is the oldest Hindu text that originated in the Punjab region.

The Punjabi people first practiced Hinduism, the oldest recorded religion in the Punjab region.[104] The historical Vedic religion constituted the religious ideas and practices in the Punjab during the Vedic period (1500–500 BCE), centered primarily in the worship of Indra.[105][106][107][108][109][110][111] The bulk of the Rigveda was composed in the Punjab region between circa 1500 and 1200 BC,[112] while later Vedic scriptures were composed more eastwards, between the Yamuna and Ganges rivers. An ancient Indian law book called the Manusmriti, developed by Brahmin Hindu priests, shaped Punjabi religious life from 200 BC onward.[113] Later, the spread of Buddhisim and Jainism in the Indian subcontinent saw the growth of Buddhism and Jainism in the Punjab.[114] Islam was introduced via southern Punjab in the 8th century, becoming the majority by the 16th century, via local conversion.[115][116] There was a small Jain community left in Punjab by the 16th century, while the Buddhist community had largely disappeared by the turn of the 10th century.[117] The region became predominantly Muslim due to missionary Sufi saints whose dargahs dot the landscape of the Punjab region.[118] The rise of Sikhism in the 1700s saw some Punjabis, both Hindu and Muslim, accepting the new Sikh faith.[113][119] A number of Punjabis during the colonial period of India became Christians, with all of these religions characterizing the religious diversity now found in the Punjab region.[113]

Colonial era[edit]

A number of Punjabis during the colonial period of India became Christians, with all of these religions characterizing the religious diversity now found in the Punjab region.[120] Additionally during the colonial era, the practice of religious syncretism among Punjabi Muslims and Punjabi Hindus was noted and documented by officials in census reports:

"In other parts of the Province, too, traces of Hindu festivals are noticeable among the Muhammadans. In the western Punjab, Baisakhi, the new year's day of the Hindus, is celebrated as an agricultural festival, by all Muhammadans, by racing bullocks yoked to the well gear, with the beat of tom-toms, and large crowds gather to witness the show, The race is called Baisakhi and is a favourite pastime in the well-irrigated tracts. Then the processions of Tazias, in Muharram, with the accompaniment of tom-toms, fencing parties and bands playing on flutes and other musical instruments (which is disapproved by the orthodox Muhammadans) and the establishment of Sabils (shelters where water and sharbat are served out) are clearly influenced by similar practices at Hindu festivals, while the illuminations on occasions like the Chiraghan fair of Shalamar (Lahore) are no doubt practices answering to the holiday-making instinct of the converted Hindus."[82]: 174 

"Besides actual conversion, Islam has had a considerable influence on the Hindu religion. The sects of reformers based on a revolt from the orthodoxy of Varnashrama Dharma were obviously the outcome of the knowledge that a different religion could produce equally pious and right thinking men. Laxity in social restrictions also appeared simultaneously in various degrees and certain customs were assimilated to those of the Muhammadans. On the other hand the miraculous powers of Muhammadan saints were enough to attract the saint worshiping Hindus, to allegiance, if not to a total change of faith... The Shamsis are believers in Shah Shamas Tabrez of Multan, and follow the Imam, for the time being, of the Ismailia sect of Shias... they belong mostly to the Sunar caste and their connection with the sect is kept a secret, like Freemasonry. They pass as ordinary Hindus, but their devotion to the Imam is very strong."[82]: 130 

— Excerpts from the Census of India (Punjab Province), 1911 AD
Population trends for major religious groups in the Punjab Province of the British India(1881–1941)[121]
% 1881
% 1891
% 1901
% 1911[f]
% 1921
% 1931
% 1941
Islam 47.6% 47.8% 49.6% 51.1% 51.1% 52.4% 53.2%
Hinduism 43.8% 43.6% 41.3% 35.8% 35.1% 30.2% 29.1%
Sikhism 8.2% 8.2% 8.6% 12.1% 12.4% 14.3% 14.9%
Christianity 0.1% 0.2% 0.3% 0.8% 1.3% 1.5% 1.5%
Other religions / No religion 0.3% 0.2% 0.2% 0.2% 0.1% 1.6% 1.3%
Population trends for major religious groups in the
Indo−Gangetic Plain West geographical division of Punjab Province (1901—1941)[83]: 48 
Religion Percentage
Hinduism Om.svg 43.79% 42.62% 41.37% 36.04% 33.54%
Islam Star and Crescent.svg 37.36% 37.81% 38.0% 39.72% 40.41%
Sikhism Khanda.svg 18.35% 18.73% 19.10% 21.88% 23.11%
Christianity Christian cross.svg 0.18% 0.51% 1.23% 1.54% 1.60%
Jainism 0.32% 0.33% 0.29% 0.27% 0.28%

The Indo−Gangetic Plain West geographical division included Hisar district, Loharu State, Rohtak district, Dujana State, Gurgaon district, Pataudi State, Delhi, Karnal district, Jalandhar district, Kapurthala State, Ludhiana district, Malerkotla State, Firozpur district, Faridkot State, Patiala State, Jind State, Nabha State, Lahore District, Amritsar district, and Gujranwala District.[82]: 2 [83]: 4 

Population trends for major religious groups in the
Himalayan geographical division of Punjab Province (1901—1941)[83]: 48 
Religion Percentage
Hinduism Om.svg 94.60% 94.53% 94.50% 94.25% 94.35%
Islam Star and Crescent.svg 4.53% 4.30% 4.45% 4.52% 4.27%
Sikhism Khanda.svg 0.23% 0.46% 0.44% 0.49% 0.60%
Christianity Christian cross.svg 0.20% 0.26% 0.26% 0.14% 0.10%
Jainism 0.03% 0.02% 0.02% 0.02% 0.03%

The Himalayan geographical division included Nahan State, Simla District, Simla Hill States, Kangra district, Mandi State, Suket State, and Chamba State.[82]: 2 [83]: 4 

Population trends for major religious groups in the
Sub−Himalayan geographical division of Punjab Province(1901—1941)[83]: 48 
Religion Percentage
Islam Star and Crescent.svg 60.62% 61.19% 61.44% 61.99% 62.29%
Hinduism Om.svg 33.09% 27.36% 26.66% 22.85% 21.98%
Sikhism Khanda.svg 5.68% 9.74% 9.77% 11.65% 11.89%
Christianity Christian cross.svg 0.48% 1.59% 2.01% 2.05% 1.74%
Jainism 0.12% 0.12% 0.12% 0.11% 0.12%

The Sub−Himalayan geographical division included Ambala district, Kalsia State, Hoshiarpur district, Gurdaspur district, Sialkot District, Gujrat District, Jhelum District, Rawalpindi District, and Attock District.[82]: 2 [83]: 4 

Population trends for major religious groups in the
North−West Dry Area geographical division of Punjab Province (1901—1941)[83]: 48 
Religion Percentage
Islam Star and Crescent.svg 79.01% 80.00% 78.95% 78.22% 77.85%
Hinduism Om.svg 17.84% 13.58% 14.23% 12.80% 13.21%
Sikhism Khanda.svg 2.91% 5.62% 5.64% 6.73% 6.74%
Christianity Christian cross.svg 0.23% 0.79% 1.17% 1.18% 1.17%
Jainism 0.01% 0.01% 0.01% 0.01% 0.01%

The North−West Dry Area geographical division included Montgomery District, Shahpur District, Mianwali District, Lyallpur District, Jhang District, Multan District, Bahawalpur State, Muzaffargarh District, and Dera Ghazi Khan District.[82]: 2 [83]: 4 


In the present-day, the vast majority of Pakistani Punjabis are Sunni Muslim by faith, but also include significant minority faiths, such as Shia Muslims, Ahmadi Muslims, Hindus, Sikhs and Christians.

Sikhism, founded by Guru Nanak is the main religion practised in the post-1966 Indian Punjab state. About 57.7% of the population of Punjab state is Sikh, 38.5% is Hindu, with the remaining population including Muslims, Christians, and Jains.[122] Punjab state contains the holy Sikh cities of Amritsar, Anandpur Sahib, Tarn Taran Sahib, Fatehgarh Sahib and Chamkaur Sahib.

The Punjab was home to several Sufi saints, and Sufism is well established in the region.[123] Also, Kirpal Singh revered the Sikh Gurus as saints.[124]

Religion in the Punjab Region[101][102][103]
(2011 & 2017)[e]
Religion Estimated population Estimated percentage
Islam Star and Crescent.svg 114.14 million 60.13%
Hinduism Om.svg 54.17 million 28.54%
Sikhism Khanda.svg 18.04 million 9.5%
Christianity Christian cross.svg 2.72 million 1.43%
Others 0.64 million 0.33%
Total Population 189.82 million 100%

Castes and tribes[edit]

The Punjab region is diverse. As seen in historic census data taken in the colonial era, many castes, subcastes & tribes all formed parts of the various ethnic groups in Punjab Province, contemporarily known as Punjabis, Saraikis, Haryanvis, Hindkowans, Dogras, Paharis, and more.

Castes & Tribes of Punjab Province (1881–1911)[82]: 478 
Caste or Tribe Population
Jat 4,167,000 20.03% 4,430,000 19.33% 4,942,000 20.28% 4,957,000 20.83%
Rajput 1,662,000 7.99% 1,759,000 7.68% 1,798,000 7.38% 1,635,000 6.87%
Chamar 1,066,000 5.12% 1,178,000 5.14% 1,208,000 4.96% 1,129,000 4.75%
Brahman 1,069,000 5.14% 1,107,000 4.83% 1,123,000 4.61% 1,018,000 4.28%
Arain 795,000 3.82% 889,000 3.88% 1,007,000 4.13% 978,000 4.11%
Chuhra 1,052,000 5.06% 1,188,000 5.18% 1,189,000 4.88% 926,000 3.89%
Arora 512,000 2.46% 570,000 2.49% 643,000 2.64% 674,000 2.83%
Tarkhan 563,000 2.71% 618,000 2.7% 681,000 2.79% 646,000 2.72%
Julaha 586,000 2.82% 625,000 2.73% 657,000 2.7% 635,000 2.67%
Gujar 552,000 2.65% 614,000 2.68% 632,000 2.59% 610,000 2.56%
Kumhar 467,000 2.25% 515,000 2.25% 569,000 2.34% 550,000 2.31%
Baloch 310,000 1.49% 359,000 1.57% 468,000 1.92% 532,000 2.24%
Khatri 393,000 1.89% 419,000 1.83% 436,000 1.79% 433,000 1.82%
Awan 332,000 1.6% 369,000 1.61% 421,000 1.73% 426,000 1.79%
Mochi 332,000 1.6% 380,000 1.66% 415,000 1.7% 419,000 1.76%
Bania 437,000 2.1% 442,000 1.93% 452,000 1.85% 404,000 1.7%
Kanet 346,000 1.66% 370,000 1.61% 390,000 1.6% 404,000 1.7%
Jhinwar 426,000 2.05% 468,000 2.04% 460,000 1.89% 360,000 1.51%
Nai 324,000 1.56% 357,000 1.56% 376,000 1.54% 350,000 1.47%
Sheikh 336,000 1.62% 332,000 1.45% 321,000 1.32% 339,000 1.42%
Lohar 291,000 1.4% 323,000 1.41% 351,000 1.44% 323,000 1.36%
Mussalli N/A N/A N/A N/A 57,000 0.23% 310,000 1.3%
Teli 261,000 1.25% 301,000 1.31% 322,000 1.32% 296,000 1.24%
Pathan 188,000 0.9% 195,000 0.85% 284,000 1.17% 292,000 1.23%
Faqir 114,000 0.55% 313,000 1.37% 386,000 1.58% 280,000 1.18%
Machhi 161,000 0.77% 189,000 0.82% 236,000 0.97% 280,000 1.18%
Sayyid 200,000 0.96% 215,000 0.94% 238,000 0.98% 247,000 1.04%
Mirasi 192,000 0.92% 229,000 1% 247,000 1.01% 227,000 0.95%
Ahir 173,000 0.83% 196,000 0.86% 205,000 0.84% 209,000 0.88%
Kashmiri 152,000 0.73% 196,000 0.86% 193,000 0.79% 178,000 0.75%
Dagi & Koli 176,000 0.85% 170,000 0.74% 155,000 0.64% 175,000 0.74%
Kamboh 130,000 0.62% 151,000 0.66% 174,000 0.71% 172,000 0.72%
Ghirath 160,000 0.77% 174,000 0.76% 170,000 0.7% 171,000 0.72%
Sunar 145,000 0.7% 163,000 0.71% 177,000 0.73% 158,000 0.66%
Dhobi 124,000 0.6% 139,000 0.61% 147,000 0.6% 156,000 0.66%
Meo 116,000 0.56% 121,000 0.53% 147,000 0.6% 130,000 0.55%
Chhimba 103,000 0.5% 145,000 0.63% 152,000 0.62% 129,000 0.54%
Qassab 92,000 0.44% 108,000 0.47% 118,000 0.48% 120,000 0.5%
Saini 153,000 0.74% 125,000 0.55% 127,000 0.52% 113,000 0.47%
Mali 66,000 0.32% 181,000 0.79% 113,000 0.46% 104,000 0.44%
Mughal 92,000 0.44% 118,000 0.51% 98,000 0.4% 99,000 0.42%
Rathi 85,000 0.41% 101,000 0.44% 88,000 0.36% 98,000 0.41%
Maliar N/A N/A N/A N/A 81,000 0.33% 90,000 0.38%
Dhanuk 66,000 0.32% 74,000 0.32% 77,000 0.32% 83,000 0.35%
Jogi-Rawal 90,000 0.43% 91,000 0.4% 76,000 0.31% 83,000 0.35%
Mahtam 52,000 0.25% 57,000 0.25% 83,000 0.34% 82,000 0.34%
Dumna 71,000 0.34% 69,000 0.3% 69,000 0.28% 79,000 0.33%
Mallah 62,000 0.3% 77,000 0.34% 73,000 0.3% 78,000 0.33%
Qureshi N/A N/A N/A N/A 53,000 0.22% 71,000 0.3%
Dogar 63,000 0.01% 70,000 0.01% 75,000 0.01% 68,000 0.29%
Barwala 55,000 0.26% 64,000 0.28% 69,000 0.28% 64,000 0.27%
Khoja 62,000 0.3% 90,000 0.39% 99,000 0.41% 63,000 0.26%
Khokhar 36,000 0.17% 130,000 0.57% 108,000 0.44% 60,000 0.25%
Bharai 56,000 0.27% 67,000 0.29% 66,000 0.27% 58,000 0.24%
Labana 47,000 0.23% 55,000 0.24% 56,000 0.23% 58,000 0.24%
Other 1,319,995 6.35% 1,229,894 5.37% 1,009,113 4.14% 1,162,841 4.89%
Total population 20,800,995 100% 22,915,894 100% 24,367,113 100% 23,791,841 100%


The historical region of Punjab produce a relatively high proportion of India and Pakistan's food output respectively.[citation needed] The region has been used for extensive wheat farming. In addition, rice, cotton, sugarcane, fruit, and vegetables are also grown.[125]

The agricultural output of the Punjab region in Pakistan contributes significantly to Pakistan's GDP. Both Indian and Pakistani Punjab is considered to have the best infrastructure of their respective countries. The Indian state of Punjab is currently the 16th richest state or the eighth richest large state of India. Pakistani Punjab produces 68% of Pakistan's foodgrain production.[126] Its share of Pakistan's GDP has historically ranged from 51.8% to 54.7%.[127]

Called "The Granary of India" or "The Bread Basket of India," Indian Punjab produces 1% of the world's rice, 2% of its wheat, and 2% of its cotton.[128] In 2001, it was recorded that farmers made up 39% of Indian Punjab's workforce.[129] In the Punjab region of Pakistan, 42.3% of the labour force is engaged in the agriculture sector.[130]

Alternatively, Punjab is also adding to the economy with the increase in employment of Punjab youth in the private sector. Government schemes such as 'Ghar Ghar Rozgar and Karobar Mission' have brought enhanced employability in the private sector. So far, 32,420 youths have been placed in different jobs and 12,114 have been skill-trained.[131]


Three Punjab cities; Bathinda, Patiala and Ferozepur, were featured in a list of the top 100 cleanest cities of India from a Swachh Survekshan report released in August 2020.[132]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ From Persian پنج panj—meaning "five"—and آب âb—meaning "water" or "river". Thus, Panjâb, پنجاب or Panj-Âb, پنج‌آب translates as "five waters".[9]
  2. ^ Craterus supervised the construction. These cities are yet to be identified.
  3. ^ Western Punjabi languages and dialects including Saraiki, Hindko and Pahari-Pothwari, and other related languages or dialects
  4. ^ Including Hindustani (Hindi and Urdu), Braj Bhasha, Haryanvi, and other related languages or dialects
  5. ^ a b Estimates from combining 2011 Indian census and 2017 Pakistani census with religious data amalgamated from Punjab, India, Punjab, Pakistan, Haryana, Delhi, Himachal Pradesh, Islamabad, Chandigarh
  6. ^ Delhi district is made into a separate territory
  7. ^ 1941 figure reached by combining total population of all districts (Lahore, Sialkot, Gujranwala, Sheikhupura, Gujrat, Shahpur, Jhelum, Rawalpindi, Attock, Mianwali, Montgomery, Lyallpur, Jhang, Multan, Muzaffargargh, Dera Ghazi Khan), one tehsil (Shakargarh – then part of Gurdaspur district), and one princely state (Bahawalpur) in Punjab Province, British India, as per 1941 census data. These districts, tehsil, and princely state would ultimately make up the subdivision of West Punjab Province, Pakistan (contemporarily known as Punjab Province, Pakistan), following the partition of India in 1947. The districts and princely state in 1941 that made up Punjab Province, Pakistan have since undergone various bifurcations at several points throughout the post-independence era, due to the rapid population growth witnessed across the province.
  8. ^ a b Including Ad-Dharmis
  9. ^ a b Including Jainism, Buddhism, Zoroastrianism, Judaism, Tribals, others, or not stated
  10. ^ 1941 figure reached by combining total population of all districts (Hisar, Rohtak, Gurgaon, Karnal, Jalandhar, Ludhiana, Firozpur, Amritsar, Simla, Kangra, Ambala, Hoshiarpur, and Gurdaspur(minus Shakargarh Tehsil), and princely states (Loharu, Dujana, Pataudi, Kapurthala, Malerkotla, Faridkot, Patiala, Jind, Nabha, Nahan, Simla Hill, Mandi, Suket, Chamba, and Kalsia) in Punjab Province, British India, as per 1941 census data. These districts and princely states would ultimately make up the subdivision of East Punjab, Patiala and East Punjab States Union, Chief Commissioner's Province of Himachal Pradesh, and Bilaspur State (contemporarily known as Punjab, India, Chandigarh, Haryana, and Himachal Pradesh), immediately following the partition of India in 1947. The districts and princely states in 1941 that made up Punjab, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh in India have since undergone various bifurcations at several points throughout the post-independence era, due to the rapid population growth witnessed across the province.


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  8. ^ "Elections in Bihar, Campaigning in Punjab to Woo Bihari Migrants". 4 October 2015.
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  14. ^ Kenneth Pletcher, ed. (2010). The Geography of India: Sacred and Historic Places. Britannica Educational Publishing. p. 199. ISBN 978-1-61530-202-4. The word's origin can perhaps be traced to panca nada, Sanskrit for "five rivers" and the name of a region mentioned in the ancient epic the Mahabharata.
  15. ^ Rajesh Bala (2005). "Foreign Invasions and their Effect on Punjab". In Sukhdial Singh (ed.). Punjab History Conference, Thirty-seventh Session, March 18–20, 2005: Proceedings. Punjabi University. p. 80. ISBN 978-81-7380-990-3. The word Punjab is a compound of two words-Panj (Five) and aab (Water), thus signifying the land of five waters or rivers. This origin can perhaps be traced to panch nada, Sanskrit for "Five rivers" the word used before the advent of Muslims with a knowledge of Persian to describe the meeting point of the Jhelum, Chenab, Ravi, Beas, and Sutlej rivers, before they joined the Indus.
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  18. ^ Khalid, Kanwal (2015). "Lahore of Pre Historic Era" (PDF). Journal of the Research Society of Pakistan. 52 (2): 73. The earliest mention of five rivers in the collective sense was found in Yajurveda and a word Panchananda was used, which is a Sanskrit word to describe a land where five rivers meet. [...] In the later period the word Pentapotamia was used by the Greeks to identify this land. (Penta means 5 and potamia, water ___ the land of five rivers) Muslim Historians implied the word "Punjab " for this region. Again it was not a new word because in Persian-speaking areas, there are references of this name given to any particular place where five rivers or lakes meet.
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Further reading[edit]

  • Condos, Mark. The Insecurity State: Punjab and the Making of Colonial Power in British India (2020) excerpt
  • Narang, K.S.; Gupta, Dr H.R. (1969). History of the Punjab 1500–1858 (PDF). U. C. Kapur & Sons, Delhi. Retrieved 22 January 2014.
  • [Quraishee 73] Punjabi Adab De Kahani, Abdul Hafeez Quaraihee, Azeez Book Depot, Lahore, 1973.
  • [Chopra 77] Punjab as a Sovereign State, Gulshan Lal Chopra, Al-Biruni, Lahore, 1977.
  • Patwant Singh. 1999. The Sikhs. New York: Doubleday. ISBN 0-385-50206-0.
  • The Evolution of Heroic Tradition in Ancient Panjab, 1971, Buddha Parkash.
  • Social and Political Movements in ancient Panjab, Delhi, 1962, Buddha Parkash.
  • History of Porus, Patiala, Buddha Parkash.
  • History of the Panjab, Patiala, 1976, Fauja Singh, L. M. Joshi (Ed).
  • The Legacy of the Punjab, 1997, R. M. Chopra.
  • The Rise Growth and Decline of Indo-Persian Literature, R. M. Chopra, 2012, Iran Culture House, New Delhi. 2nd revised edition, published in 2013.
  • Sims, Holly. "The State and Agricultural Productivity: Continuity versus Change in the Indian and Pakistani Punjabs." Asian Survey, 1 April 1986, Vol. 26(4), pp. 483–500.

External links[edit]