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History of Punjab: Climate & Resources
Geography of the Punjab The Punjab is an extensive, flat plain, hemmed in by high mountain walls on the north and west, and open to the south and east. The area, considered as a whole, presents the appearance of a gently sloping plain, leading from the high mountains on the north to the sandy deserts on the south. The great cities of Lahore and Amritsar are each 900 feet above the level of the sea.
Variety of Features The land of five rivers presents a great variety of features. Traversing the northern tracts, the traveller would regard the Punjab as the garden of India; but, as he/she approaches the south, the barren sandy plateau to the south-westand the wastes of Hissar to the south-east present a strange scene to his/her view. The traveller sees interminable wastes, the wildest prairies overgrown with grass and scrub.
Salt Resource The great salt range of the Punjab, springing from the root of the Sufed Koh, extends eastward to the Indus, which it crosses at Kalabagh, and terminates somewhat abruptly on the right bank of the river Jhelum. The range contains inexhaustible veins of rock-salt, deposits of chloride of sodium, formed og frass wacke, limestone sandstone, gypsum and red tenacious clay. The salt range produces, besides the mineral that gives it its name, antimony, alum and sulphur.
Climate of Punjab The climate of the Punjab presents extremes of heat and cold. In the regions extending along the southern base of the Himalayas, the south-west monsoon blows, and the rainfall is abundant. But in places distant from both the hills and the seat the heat is excessive and very little rain falls. The monsoon season lasts from the middle of June to the end of September. The hot weather proper begins with April. The heat in the summer is intense; scorching winds blow, the earth is parched, vegetation withers, and many trees are shorn of their leaves.
Extreme Heat In Multan, in the extreme south-west, the heat is so oppressive as to be preverbial. At Lahore, the thermometer has been known to rise to 112 degrees in a tent artificially cooled. In June, when the heat is intense, great piles of clouds appear and the south-west monsoon bursts with little warning. With thunder and lightning come furious storms of wind, and this war of the elements is followed by heavy torrents or rain, which cool the atmostphere and make the vegetation green.
Fruits of Punjab Except in the hills, Punjab contains comparatively little that is indigenous. There are no natural forests in the plains; extensive tracts occur covered only with grass, shrubs and bushes. The mango is largely cultivated in the south-east of the Punjab and attains a high degree of perfection about Multan and Hoshiarpur. Cultivated fruit trees are abundant, such as orange, pomegranate, apple, peach, fig, mulberry, quince, apricot, almond, and plum.
Animals of Punjab The animals of the land of five rivers has the reputation of being richer and more varied than its flora. Tigers are still found in the forests of the hills, and the lion was once not uncommon. The other beasts are leopards, panthers, hyaenas, lynxes, wolves, bears, jackals, foxes, stoats, and martens. There are also nilgais, antelopes, deer, goats, wild boar, porcupines, monkeys, and bats. The feathered tribes include parrots, peafowl, junglefowl, pheasants, eagles, vultures, hawks, quails, pelicans, waterfowl, cranes, herons, hoopoos, and doves. Among poisonous snakes the most remarkable are the cobra, and a small snake, the sangehur, the bit of which causes instantaneous death. The rivers are infested with alligators, and fish of various species abound. The silkworm is reared with great skill and industry, and bees produce abundant wax and honey. Camels thrive in the hot southern plains, and herds of buffaloes on the grazing lands adjoining the rivers. Horses of excellent quality are reared in the north-east part of the country.
Agricultural Products Of agricultural products, sugercan is grown everywhere in the fertile tracts and indigo in the low southern regions, borth being largely exported towards Sindh and Kabul. Cotton is produced and exported in large quantities. Wheat and maize are extensively cultivated. The other articles of produce are buckwheat, rice, barley, millet; oil-seeds, such as sesamum and mustard, various sorts of vetches, carrots, pease, beans, onions, turnips, cucubmbers, and melons.
Irrigation Extensive irrigation is carried on by means of canals and the Persian wheel is employed to draw water from the wells. Wheat, gram and barley are grown in the spring, and Indian corn, rice, cotton, pulses, indigo, and sugercane is the autumn. Wheat is largely produced in the divisions of Lahore, Amritsar, Jalandhar, and Rawalpindi. The largest areas under cotton cultivation are found in the districts of Lahore, Ambala, Gurgaon and Rawalpindi. The chief sugar producing districts are Sialkot, Gurdaspur, Jalandhar, Hoshiapur, and Ambala. Indigo is almost entirely confined to the districts of Multan, Mozaffargarh and Dera Ghazi Khan. Tea is grown in the hill tracts of Simla and Kangra.