Punjab – Punj means five and Ab means river, hence Land of five rivers – Sutlej, Ravi, Beas, Jhelum, and Chenab. An agricultural state / province in North India with Jammu & Kashmir (Himalayas) to its north, Himachal Pradesh (Himalayas) to its East, Rajasthan to its South West, and Haryana to its East and South East. Punjab is one of the most developed and prosperous states in India due to its flourishing agriculture and large heartedness of residents.
Historically, in its prime, Punjab boundaries ran till Kabul (Afghanistan) on west, and Kashmir in North. With time, current Punjab is only a fraction of what it once was but its characteristics and DNA are still fully present and embedded in its people. When in Punjab, expect history, war history, great culture and hospitality, and food. I am not aware of any other culture where food is given this level of importance. For food lovers, traveling here for food alone is sufficient reason to spend few days if not weeks.
You can stay anywhere from various budget hotels to five star hotels operating in big cities or best. To see the local life and enjoy local flavors, spend few days in a farm. Yes farm stay is possible allowing you to see and experience traditional life and food minus the physical labor associated with farms 😀
Why Go – History, Golden Temple, Food, Farm stay
How Go – Personal Conveyance, Bus, Train
Festivals – Gurpurab (November & January), Baisakhi (April), Lohri (January), Holla Mohalla (March)
Connectivity – Well connected through road and rail. Airports are in Amritsar (International), Chandigarh (Domestic, International expected in 2016-17)
Where Go – Amritsar, Patiala, Anandpur Sahib, Fatehgarh Sahib / Sanghol
- Amritsar – Golden Temple and Food. One of the oldest, religious and, food heaven of Punjab. Here pay your respects at pious Golden Temple, and see the old architecture and city planning with in-built defense mechanisms. In afternoon, go to the border and get glimpse of Pakistan and see the famous fag down ceremony. If nothing, then relax in the town and spend few days enjoying its food.
- Patiala – Good half day trip from Chandigarh, visit Patiala to see fort, palace, and historical buildings, shopping for traditional clothes, and beautiful Mohindra College.
- Anandpur Sahib – Worship at one of the most important Gurdwara for Sikhs and visit the beautiful neighboring museum on Heritage of Sikhs. It is best visited on way to Amritsar from Chandigarh taking a 35km only detour, else as half a day trip from Chandigarh.
- Fatehgarh Sahib – Harappa age relics and Buddhist monasteries archaeological sites
Expect extreme dry summers and cold winters. Rains are moderate and come between July – September.
- Summer: April to June. Temperatures tend to stay close to 45 degree Celsius during daytime with no rains
- Monsoon / Rains: July to September. Temperature tends to remain below 40 degree Celsius, with high humidity. Rains are expected every second day in August. Showers can be sporadic lasting for couple of hours at the beginning and end of the season, while in August you can have prolonged showers.
- Autum: End September to November. Temperatures cool down to around 30 degrees with low humidity. 2nd half of October and November have pleasant days and cool nights.
- Winters: December – January. Day temperatures remain below 20 degrees. Dense fog sets in around December 20th after a short spell of rain and goes by January 10th making travel slow and hazardous. Day temperatures hover around 10 degrees during this period. Flights tend to get cancelled and trains run late by 2- 4 hours.
- Spring: February to March. Relatively short period lasting only few weeks before high temperatures of summer sets in. In 2nd half of March, temperatures cross 30 degree Celsius.
Some of the important and widely celebrated festivals are:
Lohri (January 13th)
Gurpurab (January 14th & November 14th, 2016)
Basant (February 12th)
Holi (March 23rd, 2016)
Holla Mohalla (one day after Holi for three days)
Vaisakhi (April 13th)
Dusshera (October 11th, 2016)
Diwali (October 30th, 2016)
P.S. For festivals dates where 2016 is mentioned, these dates apply only for 2016. Dates change for these festivals every year when traditional calendar is reconciled with Georgian Calendar. Festival dates for these festivals fall every year within +/-10 days from the one mentioned here.