Gujranwala is a city in Punjab, Pakistan with a population of 1,132,509 (1998 census). Gujranwala is located at 32.16° North, 74.18° East and is 700 feet above sea-level. Gujranwala, with a population of over 1.1 million is the fifth largest city in Pakistan. It borders with Ghakhar Mandi and some small towns and villages. Punjabi is the local language, however English and Urdu are also common, particularly in schools and offices, as is the case in almost all of Pakistan.
The human settlements in Gujranwala existed since antiquity. The first name of the settlement according to the compilers of the first edition of the district Gazette was “Khanpur Shansi” after a member of the Jat tribe who founded eleven villages in the nearby area. Gujjars also settled in the Gujranwala region. They reached such dominance that the town came to be known as Gujranwala. According to the Imperial Gazetteer of India however the town was originally founded by Gujars, and renamed Khanpur by some Sansi Jats of Amritsar who settled there; but its old name has survived.
In 630 the Chinese Buddhist pilgrim, Hsuan Tsang visited a major town known as Tse-kia (or Taki) which was in the vicinity of modern Gujranwala. A mound near the modern village of Asarur has been identified as the site of the ancient city. Until the arrival of the Muslims little is known of Gujranwala, except that Taki had fallen into oblivion and Lahore had become the chief city. Under Muslim rule the district flourished for a time; but a mysterious depopulation took place and the whole region seems to have been almost entirely abandoned. The district gazetteer dates the name of Gujranwala to approximately the middle of the 16th century. Other smaller towns in the vicinity e.g. Sohdara, Eminabad, Wazirabad, and Ghakhar have older antecedents than Gujranwala itself.
The Sikhs occupied the Punjab after the death of the Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb Alamgir in 1707. The town became important during the rule of the father and grandfather of Ranjit Singh. Maharaja Ranjit Singh who himself was born here became the most powerful of all the Sikh rulers. After his death in 1840 the Sikh Empire was divided and disintegrated.
The area was conquered and annexed by the British in 1849. A railway line was built alongside the Grand Trunk Road in 1881 to connect Gujranwala with other cities of the Punjab and made commercial trade between cities more convenient. The municipality of Gujranwala was created in 1867. The North-Western Railway connected Gujranwala with other cities of British India, Calcutta 1,294 miles, 1,322 miles, and Karachi 828 miles
The population according to the 1901 census of India was 29,224. In 1903-4 the income and expenditure were Rs. 83,100 and Rs. 67,900 respectively. The chief source of income was octroi Rs. 59,700.
After Pakistani independence in 1947, Gujranwala developed rapidly and is now a leading city of Pakistan. It is an agricultural marketing centre (grains, melons, sugarcane), it is also a commercial and industrial centre, manufacturing ceramics, iron safes, copper, brass, and aluminum utensils. The establishment of an industrial park with textile, silk, pipefitting, electric fan, and tannery production increased its importance. Cultivation in the surrounding area is dependent upon canal irrigation. Wheat, cotton, rice, barley, and pearl millet are the chief crops.
Gujranwala is a major agricultural and industrial city of Punjab, Pakistan. The rural areas around Gujranwala produce a large variety of agricultural goods, the main crops are rice, wheat, potatoes, barley and pearl millet. The Gujranwala Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI) shares a building with the zonal and circle offices of Habib Bank Limited, United Bank Limited, Allied Bank Limited and State Bank of Pakistan.
Gujranwala’s industrial areas have numerous textile mills, cutlery manufacturing and large agricultural processing plants. The major exports include rice, sugar, textiles, carpets, glass goods, medical equipment, leather products, metal utensils, agricultural equipment, and automotive machinery parts as well as producing machinery for military uses. The main source of energy is a hydro-electric project on the Chenab River.
Gujranwala is a major centre of rail, highway and river transportation. It has a dry port for the export of local products to the rest of the world. The nearest airport is the newly-built Sialkot International Airport.
There are many hospitals, clinics and NGOs in Gujranwala, such as the Sundas Foundation and Roshni Homes. The city hospitals are not designed to cope with huge amount of people which now reside in Gujranwala, city still lacks with cheap and proper medical treatment most people visit the hospitals in Lahore. Gujarnwala has only one proper Government hospital called DHQ(civil) hospital which is burdened by the patients from the city.
There are several colleges affiliated with the University of the Punjab which also operates a main campus offering courses such as LLB, BCom, MCom, and MBA.Another higher education institute is the GIFT University which also offer courses such as LLB, BCom, MBA, Textile and Design, M.A English. There is also the Rachna Engineering University in Gujranwala. Punjab college of commerce& information technology is one of the best college in Gujranwala which has grabbed 15 out of 18 positions in Gujranwala board. Offering courses such as FSc, ICS, ICom, BCom, MCom, and MBA.Other colleges include Elite college of commerce, National college of science, superior college of science, Government college for boys, Government college for girls, Government Islamia college and Cresent college of science. Quaiz-i-Azam Divisional public college is the biggest School in the District it has its own cricket oval and numerous buildings and run by semi-Government and Board of trusties.
At the Community Development front Gujranwala is also home to Roshni Homes Trust[www.roshnihomes.org],an orphanage with a unique system of providing a home, a family and an education to orphaned and abandoned children. All children at Roshni homes receive quality education in premier educational institutes of the city.
The main sport in Gujranwala is wrestling, this city has always been famous for its Pehlwans (wrestlers) in Pakistan, which is why the city is also called Pehlwanon Ka Shehar (City of Wrestlers). The main sports are cricket, kabaddi, wrestling, hockey, soccer. This city is also home to the international-standard Jinnah Cricket Stadium. The Gujranwala city lacks Playgrounds and sports facilities and there are not many parks in the city.
Gujranwala is renowned all over Pakistan for its cuisine, especially barbecue meat dishes and roasted sparrow (Bhune Chirre & Roosi Batair).