Punjab (India)

Punjab (Punjabi: ਪੰਜਾਬ; IPA: [pəɲdʒaːb]) is a state in the northwestern India, bordering Himachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir to the northeast and north, and Chandigarh, Haryana and Rajasthan towards the southeast, south and southwest.

In 1947 when the British withdrew, India was divided along religious lines and some provinces, including Punjab, were split as well. This article covers the Indian state of Punjab. For the Pakistani state, see Punjab (Pakistan).

Map of the state of Punjab


Sikhism is the main religion and is practiced by majority of the population. The holiest of Sikh shrines, the Golden Temple, is in Amritsar. Hinduism is also very common and many temples can be found in almost every city and town. There is a small Muslim minority left (most of the Muslim population migrated to the Pakistani side after Partition), and also some Jains and Christians.


The most common language spoken is Punjabi (Gurumukhi script). Hindi and English are also spoken, mainly in major cities (Amritsar, Ludhiana, Chandigarh, Patiala, Jalandhar). Learning even a few words of Hindi or Punjabi can be very helpful, but you can get by in most areas with just English.

Golden Temple
Bathinda fort
Bathinda chowk


Chandigarh is the capital city. Chandigarh is also the capital of the state of Haryana which was formerly a part of Punjab as well. Chandigarh however administratively is not under the jurisdiction of either state, it is administered by the Central government and hence classified as a union territory.

Punjab comprises 20 administrative districts, which regionally fall into three main parts:

Mohindra College, Patiala


Here are nine of the most notable cities.

Other destinations

Get in

By plane

Amritsar has an international airport, the Raja Sansi International Airport, which is open 24 hours.

Get around

Ceremonial drill at the Attari-Wagah border; Indian Border Security Force on right, Pakistani Ranger on left


Many museums are located here:



Tourism is principally suited for those interested in culture, ancient civilization, spirituality, and epic history. Punjab has a rich history incorporating Sikhism and Hinduism. Punjab is home to the celebrated Punjabi culture, royal palaces, historic battles, shrines, temples and examples of Sikh Architecture.

Some of the smaller country towns are also a must for the person who wants to see the true Punjab, with their traditional homes, monuments, temples, farms, and everyday life.


Markets here are a shopper's haven, but only if you're not afraid to haggle and bump elbows in bazaars. Western-style malls and shopping emporia are creeping in on the outskirts, but there's little Indian about these sanitized shopping experiences, or the goods in them. Until a few years back, all shops closed on Sunday; while rules have been relaxed, many districts are still mostly shuttered.

Punjabi Jutti There is a wide variety of juttis (pronounced 'jeut-tii' in Punjabi or 'jeu-tea' in Hindi/Urdu) available for both men and women. They are usually made of fine leather and are delicately embroidered with threads or beads. Juttis are slip-on in style and are characterized by rising high to the Achilles' tendon in the back and covering the toes with a round or M-shaped heavily-embroidered upper shoe and leaving the top of the foot nearly bare. Some of them are hand-made and have been embroidered beautifully.

While credit cards are commonly accepted, you can not use them to pay at small street side shops. So you need to keep some cash handy. ATMs are available everywhere, so if you have an Indian bank account or credit card, you don't need to carry too much cash either. If you are a foreigner, it is a good idea to carry some cash to avoid charges while using your credit or debit card.

Keep some money in a different currency as well, You will find in some places giving a simple $10 note will change how fast things move.

Foreigners will have to be very careful, as all these stores are road-side stalls. What may seem a good price that the person has quoted to you, it will actually be a rip off. Do not settle for anything more than one-fourth the quoted price.. If they refuse a price just walk away, and they will call you back quoting a lower price. Normally, the more you buy, the less you will have to pay for each individual item.


You might be able to find a job in a local call centre or fast food restaurant. In particular, jobs for English-speakers are plentiful in Chandigarh.


While it is widely popular, there is some misunderstanding in Western Cultures that Punjabi cuisine is completely curry based. The level of spices can vary from minimal to very prevalent. One of the main features of Punjabi cuisine is its diverse range of dishes. Home cooked and restaurant Punjabi cuisine can vary significantly. Restaurant style cooking uses large amounts of clarified butter, known locally as desi ghee, while home cooking is done with liberal amounts of butter and cream, and concentrates mainly upon masalas (spice) flavorings. Within the state itself, there are different preferences. For example, people in the area of Amritsar prefer stuffed parathas and milk products. In fact, the area is well known for quality of its milk products. There are certain dishes which are exclusive to Punjab, such as Mah Di Dal and Saron Da Saag (Sarson Ka Saag).

Punjabi cuisine can be non-vegetarian or completely vegetarian. Due to Sikh and Hindu religious beliefs, beef is a banned item neither consumed nor sold in Punjab.

There are a variety of pulse, bean and / or lentil preparations that one should try. Common preparation generally includes being soaked overnight, or for at least 8 hours, and then gently simmered on the embers of a tandoor (A clay oven of the shape of a horizontally sliced pot) along with ginger, garlic and a few other garam masala (whole spices like cardamom, coriander, cumin, black pepper, cloves, cinnamon, mace, and bay leaf). These are then combined with a tangy masala base which could include tomato or dried mango (aamchur powder) or even pomegranate seeds (anar dana). The character typical to the bean or whole lentil preparation is that the shape is retained intact, but the gentlest pressure would make it into a paste. Dollops of cream and butter are sometimes provided for a rich, finishing touch. Garnishing is usually done with shredded coriander leaves and julienne of ginger.

Tandoori chicken

Some very popular Punjabi foods should not be missed. These include:

Punjabi breads are generally flat breads; only a few varieties are raised breads. The breads may be made of different types of flour and can be made in various ways such as being baked in a tandoor, dry baked on a tava (Indian griddle), shallow fried, or deep fried.

The tandoor also allows for tasty chicken and meat preparations. Some that you might be familiar with include seekh kebab, tandoori chicken, reshmi tikka and malai tikka.

Sweet deserts are a favorite as well. They are handed out on birthdays and other special events. Some popular ones include:

The sheer variety of Punjabi cuisine, both main courses and desserts, makes it difficult to create a comprehensive guide. If you see or smell something that seems good, do not hesitate to try it; you are unlikely to be disappointed.

Fast food chains

There are fast food restaurants in almost every city. McDonald's, Subway, Pizza Hut, Domino's, KFC,and many others can be found. There are also many Indian fast food shops catering to western styled food. No restaurant serves beef due to Hindu religious beliefs.


Drinks found in Punjab are the same as the ones through out India, but often have a Punjabi twist to them.


Power outages and water shortages happen not just every day, but often several times on the same day, with summers especially bad. Better places have water tanks and generators to alleviate the pain, but keep a flashlight handy at night and do your part by not wasting too much water.


There are many different daily newspapers. The following are in English:

Stay safe

Punjabi people are usually kind at heart. You will most likely not feel threatened while you are there, but take the usual precautions.

Make sure you pay attention to your surroundings. Pickpocketing is common in some parts. Put your wallet in your front pocket; don't carry a lot of things at one time; don't carry original copies of passports, visas, etc. Try not to use the ₹1000 and ₹500 bills, especially not in smaller shops. Many shops, except the big retails chains, don't accept plastic money (credit and debit), so have some bills handy.

To be on the safe side, avoid being in crowded places and getting stuck in protests or rallies. Try to walk in groups especially at night or in isolated areas.

Call your near and dear ones first in case of an emergency rather than calling the police number. Be wary of the traffic; don't assume; be very careful on the road.

Public displays of affection are not usually tolerated, especially non-straight. Bribing cops is not recommended although is a common practice as power, bureaucracy, and corruption are rooted deep in the overall government structure; take caution on your side.


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