DOĀBĀ REGION of the Punjab lying between 30º-57' to 32º-7' North latitudes and 75º-4' to 76º-30' East longitudes, and bounded by the Himalayas on the east, and by the Beās on the north and the west, and the Sutlej on the south, embracing the present districts of Jalandhar, Hoshiārpur and Kapūrthalā, is a distinct geographical region by virtue of its interfluvial character, its distinctive cultural identity and its recognition as such in geographical and historical literature. It is also known as Bist Doāb (from bist which is an abbreviation for the twin rivers Beās and Sutlej, and doāb, a Persian term meaning a land mass lying between two rivers) or Jalandhar Doāb (after the name of its principal town). With an area of 8, 915 square kilometres, Doābā has 24 towns and 3, 580 villages. With a population of well over four million, it is one of the densely populated regions of the Punjab. The upland plain covering about two-thirds of the total area and ranging in elevation from 270 to 300 metres above sea level, is by virtue of its alluvial soil the most fertile and thickly populated. It has therefore been the focus of main historical events, political acitivity and economic development. The low lying flood plains along the two rivers, locally called beṭ, with profusion of wild grasses and scrubs are not suitable for regular and intensive cultivation and are therefore sparsely populated. The foothill plain ranging in elevation from 300 to 470 metres and lying along the Śivālik foothills is dissected by numerous seasonal streams called chos. This zone lies between the upland plain in the west and the economically backward and sparsely populated hilly tract known as kaṇḍī in the east.

         Broadly speaking, the Doābā region is characterized by a continental sub-humid climate, with sharply varying winter and summer temperatures. Like the rest of the northwest India, it receives 80 per cent of its rainfall from the monsoons during July-September and the balance from cyclones during December-January. Natural vegetation of the region is of a dry-deciduous type. However, intensive cultivation necessitated by population pressure and paucity of arable land has resulted in clearance of entire upland plain for agriculture. Still kikkar (Acacia arabica), berī (Zizyphus jujuba), shīsham (dabergia), ḍhak (Butea trondosa) and mango trees are found scattered or in small groves. Grasses and scrubs like sar (saccharum) and kans (Sacharum spontaneoum) abound in beṭ areas. Commercial planting of eucalyptus is a recent development. The region hardly produces any minerals.

         Doābā with its sturdy, hardworking population holds a place of pride in Sikh history. Gurū Nānak's connection with one of its ancient towns, Sultānpur Lodhī, the founding of Kartārpur by Gurū Arjan and the travels of the fifth, sixth, seventh and the ninth Gurūs through the length and breadth of the region resulted in the early spread of Sikhism in the area. Being on the old route from the northwest to Delhi, it had to bear the brunt of successive invasions. At the same time it, along with the districts of the central Punjab collectively known as Mājhā, was a recruiting and training ground for the Sikh warriors during the eighteenth century. At the close of the nineteenth century and at the beginning of the twentieth, Sikhs of the Doābā were among the first to migrate to Canada and the United States of America, where they were in the forefront of the Ghadr movement. The Babar Akālī movement of the 1920's was almost exclusively sustained by Doābā Sikhs. Land holdings being very small, emigration to countries of the western world still remains an attraction for the people.


  1. Siṅgh, G. B. , "Changing Patterns of Cropland Use in Bist Doab, " unpublished Ph. D. thesis submitted to the University of Edinburgh.
  2. Mehta, Swarnjit, "Patterns of Migration in the Bist Doab 1951-61, " in Panjab University Research Bulletin (Arts), vol. IV, No. I. Chandigarh, 1973
  3. Latif, Syad Muhammad, History of the Panjab. Delhi, 1964

Swarnjīt Mehtā