India is a land of immense cultural diversity, and nowhere is this more evident than in the state of Punjab. Located in the northwestern portion of India, Punjab has a history and heritage dating back to the Vedic period and is today the center of the Sikh religion.
Since the Punjabi region was split by the British in 1947, you’ll find a combination of Islam, Hinduism and Sikhism being practiced in the state, though Sikhism is the dominant religion. The epicenter of the Sikh religion is at the Golden Temple in Amritsar. Built in 1601, this gold-plated guduwara reflects of the water of the lake where it was built, creating one of India’s most beautiful sights.
One of the most broad areas of Punjabi cultural influence on the rest of the world is the music. Bhangra, the most common form of Punjabi music, has roots as a folk music but was blended with Western styles of music -- everything from hip hop to reggae -- in recent decades and is now recognized throughout the world.
Another enjoyable aspect of Punjabi culture, especially for the traveler, is the food. Punjabi cuisine resembles that of Northern India, with a broad range of vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishes characterized by large amounts of ghee, or clarified butter.
Travelers to Punjab will also notice that the language is different from the rest of India. Punjabi consists of several dialects and is considered the ninth most widely spoken language in the world, with over 100 million native speakers.
To fully appreciate the rich layers of Punjabi culture, you have to visit the state, especially the capital of Amritsar. In as little as two days, you can visit Punjab from Delhi to immerse yourself in the culture, learn about the tumultuous history of the Sikhs and tour the beautiful Golden Temple.