Devi Talab Mandir, Jalandhar. (Source: Shivamsetu - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=64282252)
Coventry is not twinned with cities in South Asia but arrangements were made to link with Jalandhar in the Punjab, India. Jalandhar lies in the 'Doab', this is the land between the rivers Beas and Satluj (Sutlej) in the Punjab, and many think of Jalandhar as an associate twin city.
Punjab was colonised by the British via its annexation in 1849 to the East India Company. After years of struggle India won its independence in 1947. As has been told in many films and books, at independence separate Pakistan and Indian states were created. The immediate cost of this partition was very high and in the Punjab alone it is estimated that one million people died and many lost their lands, homes and property amidst resulting communal violence. A consequence of partition was that the Muslim population largely left cities such as Jalandhar in India to go to Pakistan while many Hindus and Sikhs living in Pakistan did the same journey in reverse.
Jalandhar today is a city of around one million people. It is a modern manufacturing city, transformed by the rapid development of India over recent years. If you are interested in visiting be aware that it can get very hot in the summer months of May and June - and can get very cold in winter. The Tourist office recommends seeing the numerous temples, museums, the nearby Wonderland Theme Park, if you like a park with a water theme, and the Jang-e-Azadi Memorial Museum which commemorates the contribution of Punjab to Indian independence. There is an annual music festival (the Harballabh Sangeet Sammelan) and a thriving cosmopolitan night life in the city. As for sports you can watch, depending on the time of year, cricket, football and kabaddi (kabaddi is a contact game played by teams of seven players which is popular in the Indian subcontinent). At the time of lockdown (2020) the reduction in pollution meant that the surrounding snow covered peaks of the Himalayas, were again visible from the city.
The Punjab has a special interest for Coventry as many people from our South Asian community originally came from the Jalandhar district - though of course other regions such as Gujarat, Kashmir, North West Frontier in Pakistan, Tamil Nadu, as well as nation states such as Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, are also well represented as regions of migration. The South Asian influence on Coventry can be seen in the restaurants, shops, music, cinema and festivals such as the locally held kabaddi games. Coventry’s diverse faith communities were a focus for a series of BBC programmes in the 1970s and temples, mosques and gurdwaras continue to play an important role in the community.
The experience of migration has been explored in many books and was the focus of an exhibition in the Herbert Gallery ‘Coming to Coventry: Stories from the South Asian Pioneers’. The Herbert have also put on further related exhibitions, including one about the work of Coventry photographer Masterji. Masterji documented the south Asian community in Coventry over 60 years, and the Photo Archive Miners, a cultural organisation in Coventry, has put some of his work online at:
The Herbert further explored South Asian cinema in Coventry in an exhibition called 'Kabhi Ritz Kabhie Palladium’ – a short video captures the flavour of the show (the film is produced by Stacey Bains and Niumal Puwar, who also directed along with Kuldep Powar).