The District of Gurdaspur
Gurdaspur is the northernmost district of Punjab. It borders Amritsar to its south and to its west is Pakistan. Jammu & Kashmir form its limits it to the north and Himachal Pradesh makes its eastern boundary. The district is divided into five tehesils for the purposes of administration: Batala, Dhar Kalan, Dera Nanak, Gurdaspur and Pathankot. The tehesils are further divided into ten sub-tehesils and sixteen blocks.
Etymology and Histor
The district is named after its administrative headquarters, the city of Gurdaspur. The city was founded by saint Guriya and consequently the city was named Gurdaspur.
Not much can be said with certainty about the history of the district. Scattered evidence suggests that Alexander the Great fought a fierce battle in the area. The district was ruled by the ‘Shahi Dynasty’ for a considerable period of time until Maharaja Ranjit Singh came into power and occupied Gurdaspur. It fell into the British hands after the Anglo-Sikh wars and remained under them until August 1947 when the country gained independence. Gurdaspur had a majority Muslim population and it took days for the governments of India and Pakistan to decide the fate of the district; it was finally acceded to India.
Geography and Climate
Gurdaspur is situated in the north of the state and lies between the coordinates 310-36′ and 320-34′ North and 740-56′ and 750-24′ East. A large landmass of the district is typical of the state except of the hilly tracts in the north. The surface of the district is divided into four parts:
(a)The hilly tract: The area is a continuation of the Shivalik Hills and it covers the north-eastern parts of the district. The elevation of this area ranges from 381 – 930 meters and it is divided by numerous streams flowing through the area.
(b)The dissected undulating plain: It makes a transitional zone between the hilly tract in the north and the upland plain in the south. This area is also marked by a number of seasonal streams.
(c)The floodplains of the Rivers Ravi and Beas: This part of the district consists of a low lying plain and the area is more flat than both the hilly tract and the dissected undulating plain. The width of this part ranges from 3 kilometers to 13 kilometers.
(d)The upland plain: This part is generally a flat and featureless plain and from an economic point of view, it is the most important plain in the district.
The climate of Gurdaspur is comparatively less hot than that of neighboring districts and the year can divided into four seasons:
Winters: November – March
Summers: April – June
Monsoon: July – first week of September
Post Monsoon: Second week of September – November
Demographics and Economy
The population of the district is 2,104,011 as per the Census 2001 and the literacy rate is around 63%. Punjabi is the mother tongue of virtually all the population and Hindi is also widely understood. English is mainly spoken mainly by the educated upper class. Agriculture is vital to the district’s economy and industry is mainly centered around Batala which is the commercial capital of the district.
Takhat-e-Akbari: It is a complex where the Mughal emperor Akbar spent much of its childhood. The Mughal emperor was coronated at the same complex in January 1556. Takhat-e-Akbari is located near the town of Kalanaur.
Mahakaleshwar Temple: The temple is famous for a fair which is held every year. The temple is devoted to Shiva, the Hindu god of destruction, and it is the only temple in India where the carving of the phallus of Shiva is kept in a horizontal position.
Barath Sahib: Located around 13 kilometers from the Pathankot city, this gurudwara is associated with the elder son of the founder of Sikhism, Guru Nanak Dev.
Achal Sahib and Achleshwar Temple: Situated about 8 kilometers from the commercial center of the district, Batala, the gurudwara is associated with the first Sikh guru, Nanak Dev, and the Kartik, son of Lord Shiva.