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Punjab
 
Punjab, located in the north west of India, is one of the smallest and the most prosperous states of India. The five rivers Sutlej, Beas, Ravi, Chenab and Jhelum gave it its name 'punj-ab' or the 'land of five waters'. These five rivers divide the state into three regions: Majha, Doaba and Malwa.Punjab is certainly a primarily agricultural state and enjoys the natural benefits of fertile soils and abundant waters.
 
As a civilization, it is one of the most ancient in the world with a distinguished culture.
 
The Punjabi language has its origins in the Indo-European family of languages which also included Persian and Latin. A land of ethnic and religious diversity, it is the birth place of a number of religious movements. Some of the prominent ones include Sikhism, Buddhism and many Sufi schools of Islam.
 
Punjab flourished significantly during the reign of the great Mogul emperor, Babar, whose empire stretched from Delhi in the east to Kabul and Ghazni in the west. The prosperity continued under Maharaja Ranjit Singh's (1780-1838 AD) rule. But it saw a major downfall in 1947, when the partition of the nation shrunk the boundaries of Indian Punjab resulting in a great loss of land and resources. At present, the present state is just a fourth of its original area.
 
Post-independence, Punjab has made considerable economic progress despite the setback it suffered in 1947. It contributes nearly two thirds to the total production of food grains and a third of milk production in the country. It is the leading producer of wheat at a total production of 2 million tonnes per annum. The initiative of Green revolution (a major agricultural initiative) has been keenly taken forward by the people of Punjab. Even though, Punjabis account for less than 2.5% of the Indian population, they are one of the most prosperous races in India. Their per capita income is twice the national average.
 
Enriched with a distinct blend of rural and urban flavors, Punjab has a lot to offer to a tourist eye. It has a unique religious legacy with a host of Gurudwaras, the largest and the most prominent being The Golden Temple at Amritsar. Every year, thousands of tourists from around the world visit this holy shrine. The dome of the temple covered with pure gold presents a fascinating sight as its reflection falls in the holy waters of the sarovar. Other gurudwaras worth visiting are Sri Anandpur Sahib (the birthplace of Khalsa), Damdama Sahib and Goindwal Sahib.
 
Jallianwala Bagh of Amritsar is another historical spot where a number of people jumped into a well to escape the firing of a British General. The place reminds one of the horrors of the British rule and Punjab's sacrifice to the struggle for freedom of India.
 
Then there is the Summer Palace of Maharaja Ranjit Singh which has now been converted into a museum. It preserves the weapons dating back to the Mogul times and portraits of the ruling dynasties of Punjab.
 
The best times to visit Punjab are the autumn and the spring seasons. The natural landscape looks breathtaking with lush mustard fields. The rustic charm of the place and celebratory spirit of the Punjabis are sure to make for a memorable travel experience.
 
Culture
 
The culture of Punjab has its own unique fragrance. It is unmatched. The scent of this fertile land is such in which the warmth of you-are-my-own is inborn. All communities hold pride in their traditions and the Punjabis whose open-mindedness has become proverbial also hold their unique tradition of hospitality high in their estimation as well as in their values of life. A guest in Punjab is considered as a representative sent by God.
 
Hospitality promotes brotherhood and holds a special significance for bringing people closer; love and kindness flow out of it. In Punjab they say that the more you love the more it multiplies and you get back many more times the kindness that you give.
 
The land of Punjab, which is described as the land of Gurus, Pirs and the warriors, as a matter of faith believes in earning honest living through hard labour and in sharing the fruits of this labour with others, without expecting any returns. Hospitality is a living aspect of Punjabi culture, which is shown even to the migratory birds that sojourn here.
 
Punjabis not only profess and practice hospitality in their own land but also carry it, untainted and virgin, to the lands where they immigrate. There is no country in the world where Punjabis have not created waves.
 
Hospitality binds people together in bonds of love; it increases circles of friendship and makes the atmosphere aglow with human warmth. Punjabis have proved this in all corners of the world in seemingly alien lands and because of these qualities they have been willingly accepted as useful, responsible citizens of the world, warm neighbours and good friends.
 
History
 
The Indus Valley Civilization
 
Archaeologists have traced signs of life, in the area now known as Punjab, to as far back as the Indus valley civilization, around 5000 years ago. At its peak, the Indus Valley civilization boasted of splendid urban cities such as Harappa and Mohen-jo-daro.
 
The Aryan era
 
One of the reasons for the decline of the Indus Valley civilization was the migration of the Aryans from North-West Asia around 1500-100 BC. For the next thousand or so years, during the Aryan period, present-day Punjab was called Arya-varta (land of the Aryans). It is believed that it was during this period that the oldest of books, the Rig Vedas were written. Sanskrit, the Aryan tongue, became the symbol of their dominance in the region.
 
The Persian rule
 
Located at the outskirts of the great Persian Empire, Punjab came under frequent Persian attacks and was occupied by various Persian rulers from time to time. Though Darius the Great is believed to have occupied parts of the area, it was the Persian king Gustasp who in 516 BC completed the occupation of Punjab. In time, Punjab became one of the wealthiest satrapies (province) of the Persian Empire.
 
Music & Dance
 
Garah
 

The simple earthen pitcher serves as a musical instrument in a number of folk songs. The Garah player strikes its sides with rings worn on fingers of one hand and also plays on its open mouth with the other hand to produce a distinct rhythmic beat.

 
Toomba
 

Toomba is a famous folk instrument of Punjab, which is entirely based on Iktara (single stringed instrument), used by the legend singers. Now it's been adopted by a number of Punjabi folk singers. Toomba is made of wooden sticks mounted with a Toomba or wooden resonator covered with skin. A metallic string is passed on a resonator over a bridge and tied to the key at the end of the stick. The string is struck with a finger or sometimes with the Mizrab, and the Swaras are made by pressing the string to the stick.

 
Dhol
 
Dhol is a favorite folk instrument of Punjab. It is a percussion instrument, which is used not only at male dance performances but also during social rituals and festive celebrations. The drummer is called Dholi or Bharaj. The dhol is a barrel-shaped wooden drum with a mounted skin on both sides. It is played with two different types of wooden sticks. The skin on either side is tightened at a different pitch.
 
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