The physical features of the Punjab have exercised a great influence on its history.
Syed Mohammad Latif says: “placed as it is by Nature in a locality which gives it a crowning
position and serving as the gateway to India, every invader from the North has, by its
possession, sought the road to fame, “
1.It is through the passes in the Suleiman and Kirthar
ranges – the Passes of Khyber, Gomal, Tochi and zbolan that all the invaders, from
Alexander to Shah Zaman, entered India.
2.The Punjab, whose boundaries in ancient and
medieval times extended right up to the passes, therefore, played the role of a gateway to
India and it was here – in its plains – that the initial and decisive battles were fought by the
Punjabis to check the invaders from entering the interior of their country.
situated as it is, the brunt of the attack of most foreign invaders for thousands of years was
borne by the Punjab, it was many times that its cities and towns were burnt, looted and
plundered its inhabitants were massacred and its monuments destroyed.
History clearly illustrates how the Punjab bore the brunt of the attacks of differ
1.When the Aryans advanced to occupy the Punjab, certain “Daysus” – the aborigines
of the Punjab gave a tough fight to them.
- A little later, the Persians invaded India under
Cyrus and Darius, and again the Punjab bore the fury of their attacks and was eventually
annexed to the Persian Empire the contemporaneous sources tell us that it formed the
twentieth satrapy’ of the Persian Empire and it used to pay “360”. Talents of gold dust as
tribute to the Persian Emperor.
3.Similarly, when Alexander invaded India, the brave Punjabis under Pous and other
tribal chiefs bore the brunt of the attack. They fought so well that the Greeks lost confidence
and despite Alexander’s stirring appeals to his soldiers, the latter refused to cross the Beas.
This shows how, because of its geographical situation, the Punjab suffered heavy losses in
men and money while fighting against the Greeks, whereas the rest of India continued to live
her life of splendid isolation and soon forgot the passing of the ‘Macedonian Storm’.
4.Later on, when the Scythains and the Huns invaded India, the Punjab again suffered
most and the rest of India remained as calm as ever.
5.In the eight century, when the Arabs
invaded India through Sind, they realized their mistake. They felt that they had not entered
India through the proper gateway. The Turks then learnt a lesson from the Arabs and they,
therefore, invaded the Punjab first. Though the brunt of the attack of Mahmud of Ghazni was
borne by the whole of northern India, yet it was the Punjab which, for more than one
hundred and fifty years, remained under the heels of the Ghaznavis, whereas the rest of
Indian recovered its independence immediately after the death of Mahmud.
Later on the
Turkish rules of Delhi – Shahab-ud-din Muhammad Ghori, Qutub-ud-din Aibek and
lltutmish – made the Punjab the base of their war –like operations and conquered the rest of
6.It was also because of its geographical position. i.e. the Punjab lying on the regular
track of the invaders from the north-west- that it, suffered most heavily when the foreign
hordes under Targhi, Timur, Nadir Shah and Ahmed Shah Durrani looted and plundered
Thus, we see that Nature has placed the Punjab in such a geographical position that in
the various periods of the India history, it has either “served as a bulwark to India against all
the invasions from the north and west’ or ‘served as a base of warlike operations for
conquests beyond its classic rivers.”
7.It is also because of its situation that when the British started to conquer India, the
Punjab was the last to be conquered. The British had not entered India through its old land-
routes, but through new sea-routes. They had first occupied the towns on the Eastern and the
Western coasts of India and had then conquered Bengal. The Punjab, being situated in the
extreme north-west, was naturally the last to be conquered.
8.The Punjab rivers have also played an important part in the history of our country.
a.Sometimes, they served as boundaries of Subahs and Sarkars, As in the time of the Mughals.
b.Besides, of these rivers were often used ‘as means of defence and especially during rains they
served as great barriers to the invaders. It was only on account of this reason that he invaders
generally followed a more northerly route to Delhi just below the hills where the rivers were
narrow and the work of bridge – building was easier.
9.Besides, it is because of the physical features of the Punjab that most of the decisive
battles or the Indian history have been fought on the vast plains of the Punjab, stretching from
the Satluj to the Jamuna. The Punjabis always first tried to check the invaders in the north-
western portion of their land but,
It is why the most decisive battles of India – those of Thanesar, Kurukshetra, Tarain, Sirhind and Panipat – were fought
in this portion of the Punjab plains.
10.They physical features of the Punjab have influenced its history in another way also.
The Punjab consists of rich and fertile plains. If it had been and arid land like Sind, very few
invaders would have thought of attacking and occupying it over and over again. The riches,
the fertility and the good climate of the Punjab had always wetted the rapacity of the invaders
and, consequently, they repeated their invasions with greater frequency, till they became the
masters of it.
Being at the gateway of India, the Punjabis have always kept themselves armed. They
are gate-keepers of India and the gate-keepers must be strong and armed to be able to check
the undesirable intruders. It is, thus because of the peculiar geographical position that the
people of the Punjab are so virile and warlike. They know their responsibility fully well. On
their strength and unity depends the welfare of India. Nature commands them to check the
enemy at the gate of which they are the gate-keepers. They know their duty. They have
acquitted themselves well in the past; they are at prepared for the defence of their motherland.