The first known documentation of the word ‘Punjab’ is in the writings of Ibn Batuta, who visited the region in the fourteenth century. The term came into wider use in the second half of the sixteenth century, and was used in the book Tarikh-e-Sher Shah Suri (1580), which describes the construction of a fort by ‘Sher Khan of Punjab’.
Reference of ‘Punjab’ can also be found in volume one of “Ain-e-Akbari”, written by Abul Fazal, where ‘Punjab’ describes the territory that can be divided into provinces of Lahore and Multan. Similarly, in the second volume of Ain-e-Akbari, the title of a chapter includes the word ‘Panjnad’ in it.
However, the first mentioning of Sanskrit equivalent of ‘Punjab’ occurs in the great epic, the Mahabharata, where it is described as pancha-nada, which means ‘country of five rivers’. The Mughal King Jahangir also mentions the word Panjab in ‘Tuzk-i-Janhageeri’, derived from Persian and introduced by the Turkic conquerors of India, literally means “five” (panj) “waters” (ab), i.e., the Land of Five Rivers, referring to the five rivers which go through it. It was because of this that it was made the granary of British India.
It is one of the most ancient civilizations in the world with a distinguished culture. Punjabi language has its origins in the Indo-European family of languages which included Persian and Latin. A land of ethnic and religious diversity, it is birth place of a number of religious movements. Some of the prominent ones include Sikhism, Buddhism and many Sufi schools of Islam.
The Indian State of Punjab was created in 1947, when the partition of India split the former Raj province of Punjab between India and Pakistan. The mostly Muslim western part of the province became Pakistan’s Punjab Province; the mostly Sikh eastern part became India’s Punjab state. The partition saw many people displaced and much intercommunal violence, as many Sikhs and Hindus lived in the west, and many Muslims lived in the east. Several small Punjabi princely states, including Patiala, also became part of Indian Punjab.
In 1950, two separate states were created; Punjab included the former Raj province of Punjab, while the princely states of Patiala, Nabha, Jind, Kapurthala, Malerkotla, Faridkot and Kalsia were combined into a new state, the Patiala and East Punjab States Union (PEPSU). Himachal Pradesh was created as a union territory from several princely states and Kangra District. In 1956, PEPSU was merged into Punjab state, and several northern districts of Punjab in the Himalayas were added to Himachal Pradesh.