Historical Significance of Punjab



Historical Significance of Punjab

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Punjab is a region of the northwest Indian subcontinent. It is made up of two Persian words -Panj- and -Aab- where Panj means five and Aab means water. It is called land of five rivers that ran through it. They are Jhelum, Ravi, Beas, Sutlej and Chenab.

Punjab is surrounded 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.

Evidence of life in the Punjab region was discovered in 7000 B.C. In 3000 BC, life grew in and around the Indus Valley, which gave rise to the Indus Valley civilisation. There was growth of historic cities like Harappa and Mohenjo Daro. Punjab was continuously being attacked by the Persians The Persian King Gustasp conquered in 516 BC. Punjab became the wealthiest province of the Persian kingdom. Greeks, the strong competitors of the Persians, also eyed Punjab territory. In 321 BC, the Greek King Alexander invaded Punjab, breaking the rule of the Persians. Later, the Greek empire was overthrown by the Bacterians. In the second century BC, Bacterian king Demetrius I added Punjab to his kingdom. In the same period, the Northern Sakas wrestled into power from the Indo-Greeks. The Arabs came and conquered Multan in 8th century AD. Mahmud, the ruler of Ghazni, attacked Punjab 17 times during his reign. There were short-term rules of the Mamluks, Mongols, Khiljis and Tughluqs.

Punjab was a picture of chaos and upheaval when Maharaja Ranjit Singh took over as its ruler, on 12th April 1801. Punjab was under the Afghan rule since 1757 and faced the rising power of Sikhs. Sikhs joined hands to overthrow Taimul Shah and his Chief, Jalal Khan. Afghans returned and Lahore came under the Sikhs in 1758.

Jassa Singh Ahluwalia became the head of the Sikh sovereignty. Under his rule, the domain of Sikhs considerably grew over Punjab. After the death of Jassa Singh, Afghans started gaining power again. Soon Maharaja Ranjit Singh built up a strong force to counteract them. He won the hearts of everyone in Punjab. It was on July 7, 1799 that Ranjit Singh entered Lahore acquiring a kingdom in the Punjab. He died in 1839 and a succession struggle followed his death.

British entered Punjab in 1845 and moved to the Sutlej frontier. British and Sikh troops engaged in the First Anglo-Sikh War near Ferozepur. The war ended the following year and the territory between the Sutlej and the Beas fell into the hands of the British rule, along with Kashmir. As per the Peace Treaty and the Treaty of Lahore, Punjab was totally annexed by the British East India Company and Dhalip Singh, the minor Sikh ruler, was pensioned off. The black day of the Jalianwala Bagh Massacre occurred at Amritsar, in 1919. It agitated the Sikhs to revolt against the tyranny of the colonial rule. The 1940 Lahore Resolution of the Muslim League made Punjab the centre of a bloodier struggle.

In 1946, communal tensions erupted between the majority Muslims of Punjab and the Hindu and Sikh minorities. The British Punjab province, which forms the present day Punjab province of Pakistan and the Punjab of India were partitioned in 1947. The Indian state of Punjab has never seen back after independence. The Green Revolution in the 1960s swept the land and developed to become the bread and butter of the country. Punjab has grown ever since. Today, it is amongst the popular tourist destinations of the country as well.