The oldest city in Punjab, in recent years it has seen rapid urbanisation and developed into a highly industrialised centre of commercial activity. Jalandhar was the capital of Punjab from India\'s independence (1947) until Chandigarh was built in 1953. Situated on the Grand Trunk Road, it is a major rail and road junction, and is 144 km northwest of the state capital, Chandigarh. The city was known as Jullundur in British India.
Jalandhar and Multan are the oldest surviving cities of the Punjab region, with historical references to A.D. 100. The Jalandhar Doab (the region surrounding the city between the Beas and Sutlej rivers) marked the easternmost territory of the empire of Alexander the Great. He erected giant altars in this area to mark the easternmost extent of his empire and founded a city named Alexandria in the vicinity and left many Macedonian veterans there.
In ancient time, the district or Kingdom of Jalandhar comprised the whole of the Upper Doabas from the Ravi to the Satluj. According to the Padma Purana, as quoted by General Cunningham, the country takes its name from the great Daitya King Danava Jalandhara.
In ancient times it was the seat of the yogis (ascetics) and Saints, who meditated in this region, more than 5000 years ago. Before the arrival of Sikhism, Shiva, was worshiped by the whole population. Hindu temples and jathera (ancestor worshiping) were commonly built in all of the Punjab, about 1000 years ago, from about 2nd century A.D. up to 1500, when Sikhism started to spread.
The earliest historical mention of Jalandhar occurs in the region of Kanishka, the Kushan King of northern India in whose time a council of Buddhists theologians was held near Jalandhar about 100 AD to collect and arrange the sacred writings of Buddhism and to bring about reconciliation between its various sects. This makes Jalandhar along with Multan the oldest surviving city of the Punjab region.
From the later half of the tenth century up to 1019, the district was included in the Hindu Shahi Kingdom of the Punjab. Jalandhar was an important city in the region and of this Great Hindu Shahi Dynasty. The city was named after Jalandhar Nath, a yogi who was defeated in an fight with other yogis, making him leave his native Himalayan mountains, migrating to Punjab. There he founded Jalandhar, after his name.
In the 7th century, when the famous Chinese traveler and pilgrim Xuanzang visited India during the reign of Harsha Vardhana, the Kingdom of Jalandhar or Trigartta under Raja Utito (whom Alexender Cunningham identifies with the Rajput Raja Attar Chandra). It was said to have extended 167 miles (269 km) from east to west and 133 miles (214 km) from north to south, thus including the hill states of Chamba, Mandi and Suket (Himachal Pradesh) and Satadru or Sirhind in the plains. Raja Utito was a tributary of Harsh Vardhana. The Rajput Rajas appear to have continued to rule over the country up to the 12th century, interrupted some time or the other. Their capital was Jalandhar and Kangra formed an important stronghold.
Jalandhar was the capital of Punjab until Chandigarh was built.
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