Ludhiana is a city and a municipal corporation in Ludhiana district in the Indian state of Punjab. It is the largest city in Punjab, with an estimated population of 1.4 million. The city stands on the Sutlej River's old bank, 13 km south of its present course.
Ludhiana is centrally located on the Grand Trunk Road from Delhi to Amritsar, and is connected to the Indian capital city of New Delhi by road and frequent train service.
It is a major industrial and educational center of northern India, and is the crossroads of many different cultures.
This translation from Pashto of a passage of Gula-m Sarvar La-hauri-'s (alias Bute Shah) Tari--i mazan-i Panja-b (History of the Punjab), written in the mid-19th century, is given in the Gazetteer for the Ludhiana District 1888-89:
"In the reign of Sikandar, son of Bahlol Lodi, the people about Ludhiana were oppressed by the pundering Baluchis, and applied to the Emperor for assistance. Sikandar, in answer to their prayer, sent two of his Lodi chiefs, by name Yusaf Khan and Nihang Khan, with an army. These chiefs fixed on the present site of the Ludhiana city, which was then a village called Mir Hota. Nihang Khan remained at Mir Hota as the Emperor's Lieutenant; and called the place Ludhiana. He was succeeded by his son a grandson. The latter, Jalal Khan, built the fort of Ludhiana out of the bricks found at Sunet. His two sons partitioned the country round about Ludhiana, which was then lying in waste, amongst the people of the town, and distributed them in villages. In the time of Jalal Khan's grandsons, Alu Khan and Khizr Khan, the Lodi dynasty was overthrown by Babar; and the Lodis of Ludhiana sunk to the position of ordinary subjects of the Mughal empire. They are said to have lived close to the fort for many generations, but all traces of them have now disappeared, and even the tombs of Nihang and his immediate descendants have been lost sight of, although they are said to have been standing some years ago."
The Lodi dynasty lost control of the throne of Delhi in 1526. The Mughals established a strong government at Sirhind, which itself was a sarkar (division) of the Delhi subah (province), and attached Ludhiana as a mahal or parganah.
The century and a half following the death of Akhbar (a Mughal emperor) in 1605 was dominated by the rise of Sikhism as a power, and the decline of the Mughal empire. By this time the Mughal empire was tottering to its fall, and various local powers began to assert their independence. The Rais of Raikot who until then had held a considerable tract of land around Ludhiana in lease from the emperors were some of the first to assert their independence. Raja Ala Singh of Patiala, the representative of the crumbling Delhi Sultanate and Rai Kalha II were the principal actors contenders for power in the region.
In 1741, Ala Singh defeated Rai Kalha II and chased him out of the country, but he soon recovered the territory.
Thinking to take advantage of this power struggle, Nadir Shah invaded, and crossed the Sutlej at Ludhiana, which was then on its banks, and marched through the district along what is now the Grand Trunk Road. Nadir Shah is said to have ordered a general massacre of the inhabitants of Ludhiana on the account of some petty fault, but it seems doubtful that he did.
His successor, Ahmed Shah Durrani, invaded in 1747. On reaching the Sutlej at Ludhiana, he found his passage opposed by the son of the emperor, Kamardin, with a huge army that had advanced from Sirhind. Durrani avoided the conflict but ended up in direct confrontation with him very near Khanna. While Ahmad Shah Bahadur was defeated, the losses were very heavy on both sides. The subsequent invasions of Ahmad Shah were not resisted by the Mughal troops from Sirhind, but they were constantly harassed by the Phulkian chiefs and the Rais. It was some time about 1760 that the Rais were permitted by Ahmed Shah to take possession of the town and for of Ludhiana and to extend their power over the country about.
Although Zain Khan was appointed by Ahmad Shah as Governor of Sirhind in 1761, he was defeated and slain in 1763 by huger armies of Sikhs. They took possession of Sirhind, which they leveled with the ground.
The fall of Sirhind marked the last vestige of Mughal control over the area, and Ludhiana was left in possession of the Rais. In 1767 Ahmed Shah reached Ludhiana on his last expedition but got no further.
Around 1785, the Sutlej changed in course so that Ludhiana was no longer situated on its banks.
The condition of the country during the latter part of the 18th century was one of considerable prosperity. The rule of the Rais is still spoken of as being very mild; and it is said that they fixed only one-fourth of the produce as their due.
In 1798, Ludhiana was attacked by the Sikhs under Bedi Sahib Singh of Una. At the time, the ruler of the Rais, Rai Alias was a child. His agents Roshan and Gujar made a good stand against the Sikhs at Jodh, ten miles (16 km) southwest of Ludhiana. Roshan was the killed in the fight, and Rai's army was dispersed. However, the Phulkian chiefs, who were on good terms with the Rais, had no intention of allowing the Bedi to establish himself in their midst and came to their aid, driving the invaders out of the villages. Upon the Bedi's siege of Ludhiana, the Rais called in British mercenary George Thomas to help with the defense of the city. On Thomas's approach, Bedi retreated to the other side of the river.
Bus, car, and train are the main forms of transportation used to get in and out of Ludhiana.
Morning and evening fast trains (called shatabdis) connect Ludhiana to New Delhi and Amritsar.
The Government of Punjab has announced that they will be adding a light railway system that would connect Ludhiana with other major cities in Punjab.
An international airport has been in planning for years. Unfortunately, one legacy of the British Raj is that approvals for new airports are required to go through the Central Government in Delhi, which can take many years. There is a small airport at Sahnewal, about five miles (8 km) southeast from the city center, and there have been commercial flights in the past from Delhi.
On April 10, 2007 the Airport Authority of India has publicly said that plans for an international airport at Halwara are canceled, and a new location has been chosen at a small airport 5 miles (8.0 km) outside the Ludhiana city centre. Sahnewal Airport will be the new site of the airport. The government is looking at purchasing another 500 acres (2.0 km˛) of land to construct the new international airport. The runways at the airport will be extended to more than 7,000 feet (2,100 m), but it is said if the city wants big aircraft to land here, they will need to extend the runway to 10,000 feet (3,000 m).
Ludhiana's status as a large industrial hub is cited as a reason for another international airport in Punjab. An international airport may also benefit the neighbouring states and boost the Economy