Punjab (Punjabi: پنجاب) is a province in Pakistan, and home to over half the population of Pakistan. When India was divided, the region of Punjab was divided along religious lines. Consequently, the eastern portion became a state in India also called Punjab.
The word Punjab is a combination of the Indo-Iranian words panj (five) and āb (water), and thus the (land of) five rivers. The five rivers are the Indus River, Chenab River, Jhelum River, Ravi River and Sutlej River. Sometimes, in English, there can be a definite article before the name i.e. the Punjab. The name is also sometimes spelled as Panjab or Panjaab or Punjaab. The name Punjab was given to the region by Turkic Muslim conquerors and popularized during the reign of the Mughal Empire in the 17th century CE.
Punjab is Pakistan's second largest province at 205,344 km² (79,284 sq mi²) after Balochistan and is located at the northwestern edge of the geologic Indian plate in South-Central Asia. The capital and largest city is Lahore which was the historical capital of the wider Punjab region. Nearly 60% of Pakistan's population lives in the Punjab. It is the nation's only province that touches every other province; it also surrounds the federal enclave of the national capital city at Islamabad. This geographical position, and a large multi-ethnic population, strongly influence Punjab's outlook on national affairs and induces in Punjab a keen awareness of the problems of Pakistan's other important provinces and territories. In the acronym P-A-K-I-S-T-A-N, the P is for THE PUNJAB.
The province is a mainly a fertile region along the river valleys, while sparse Deserts can be found near the border with Rajasthan and the Sulaiman Range. The region contains the Thar and Cholistan deserts. The Indus River and its many tributaries traverse the Punjab from north to south.
The landscape is amongst the most heavily irrigated on earth and canals can be found throughout the province. Weather extremes are notable from the hot and barren south to the cool hills of the north. The foothills of the Himalayas are found in the extreme north as well.
Both Lahore and Islamabad have direct flights to numerous international destinations across Asia, the Greater Middle East and Europe. There are buses/train between Delhi and Lahore. From Kashi China one can travel by road via the Karakoram Highway up to Gilgit for about 50$ and from Gilgit there are direct buses to Islamabad for about 5$ but it is a 17 hour journey on harrowingly winding roads.
Punjab has train links with its neighbor, the Republic of India to the east. The Samjhauta Express is the more common, running on Tuesdays and Fridays between Delhi and Lahore via the Attari/Wagah border crossing. Tourists should be aware that after recent terrorist attacks on the train, which caused many casualties and strained relationships between the two neighbors, it is strongly advised that you take taxis or buses to and from the border instead.
From ancient times people have been travelling through Punjab using the Grand Trunk Road that runs through Pakistan and into the Indian subcontinent. It is a rewarding but time consuming way to see this part of the world. New highways have been developed and the country is due for an expansion in its highway network. Currently, a world-class motorway connects the cities of Lahore, Islamabad and Faisalabad
Punjab is connected to China through the Karakoram Highway, a modern feat of engineering that traverses a remarkably scenic route through the Karakoram and Himalayan mountains. It is about to be expanded from the current 10m wide to 30m because of the increase in trade traffic due to the Gwader port opening.
From India: While there is international service running to Lahore from Delhi it is just as fast, much more flexible, and much cheaper to take the journey by stringing together local transport and crossing the Wagah border on foot.
From China: While there is international service running to Islamabad from Kashgar it is just as fast, much more flexible, and much cheaper to take the journey by stringing together local transport and crossing the border on foot.
By Plane, Train, Taxi, Bus
From ancient times people have been travelling through Punjab using the Grand Trunk Road that run through Pakistan and into the Indian subcontinent. It's a rewarding but time consuming way to see this part of the world. New highways have been developed and the country is due for an expansion in its highway network. Currently, a world-class motorway connects the cities of Lahore, Islamabad and Faisalabad
The province is home to many well known historical sites including the Shalimar Gardens, the Badshahi Mosque, and the ruins of the ancient city of Harrapa. The Anarkali Market and Jahangir's Tomb are prominent in the city of Lahore, as is the Lahore Museum, while the ancient city of Taxila in the northwest was once a major centre of Buddhism. Many important Sikh shrines are in the Pakistani portion of Punjab, including the birthplace of the first Guru, Guru Nanak (born at Nankana Sahib). You can visit the Wagah border parade; it is called the beating retreat ceremony between the IBSF and the Pakistani Rangers. There is also the largest salt mine in Asia situated the Khewra Salt Mines.
Punjabi food mainly consists of various kinds of kabobs eaten with either flatbread or rice. Food tends to be either mild or very spicy, depending on where you are, so state your preference before beginning to eat. In general, most of the same food you can find in the highest quality restaurants/hotels there is available commonly in the markets (but European-style food is generally reserved for the former).
As you might have noticed, Nan is usually used to pick up liquid and soft foods like shorba and beans. Utensils are not commonly used during meals in Pakistan except to serve dishes (unless someone is eating rice and would like to be polite or is unpracticed eating it by hand). Attempting to cut a naan with a knife and drink shorba with a spoon may elicit some amusement around you. Watching others may help.
There are too many shorbas, or sauces, to enumerate. However, you should know of the most common ones.
In the warmer southern region, sweet drinks are readily available throughout the day. Look for street vendors that have fruits (real or decorations) hanging from their roofs. Also, some milk/yogurt shops serve lassi. Ask for meethi lassi for a sweet yogurt drink and you can also get a salty lassi which tastes good if you are having "bhindi" in food or some other rich dish. There is also a sweet drink called Mango Lassi which is very rich and thick, made with yogurt, mango pulp, and pieces of mango.
Drink sealed bottled water, not the water from local taps. Water from local taps will be infected and it is highly likely you will end up ill.
The people of Punjab are very hospitable. They tend to welcome any foreigner very warmly.
For your own safety it is strongly recommended not to attend any rallies, protests or religious gatherings.