It is the administrative headquarters of Patiala District, and was the capital of the premier princely state in the former Punjab Province of British India, headed by the Sidhu dynasty. Patiala is famous for its pagri (traditional headgear), paranda (tasselled tag for braiding hair), peg (Patiala Peg - a double or large peg of whiskey), and Jutti (traditional Punjabi footwear).
Any serving of alcohol which is double than the normal serving, or unusually large, is referred to as the Patiala Peg. This term is understood in most parts of India. There are multiple stories behind this epithet, most related to the opulent and hedonistic lifestyle of one of the maharajas of Patiala - Maharaja Bhupinder Singh, who was a heavy drinker.
Patiala is home town of many eminent personalities like cricketers Navjot Sidhu, Mohinder Amarnath, Reetinder Sodhi, Bollywood Stars Jimmy Shregill, Om Puri, Punjabi Singers Gurdas Mann & Harbhajan Mann, Jet Airways Chairman Naresh Goyal & Sq Ldr Rakesh Sharma, the first Indian in space.
The history of Patiala state starts off with the ancestor of the Sikh Patiala Royal House, Mohan Singh being harassed by neighbouring Bhullars and Dhaliwals (tappedars of the terrirtory). They would not allow Mohan to settle there. He was a follower of Guru Hargobind and the Guru appealed on behalf of Mohan, but to no avail. The result was an armed struggle and the Bhullars and Dhaliwals were defeated by the Guru's men, which allowed Mohan to establish the Village of Meharaj in 1627.
Mohan fought against the Mughals at the Battle of Mehraj 1631 on the side of Guru Hargobind. Mohan and his eldest son Rup Chand were later killed in a fight against the Bhatti Rajputs (who constantly harassed him). Kala, Mohan's younger son succeeded the "chaudriyat", and was guardian to Rup Chand's sons Phul and Sandali.
When Kala died, Phul formed his own village (Phul), five miles from Meharaj (under the blessings of Sikh Guru's) in 1663. Nabha and Jind trace their ancestry to the devout Sikh Phul. It was one of the first Sikh Kingdoms to be formed. Apparently the appellation of dynasty "Phulkian" is derived from their common founder. One of his sons, Chota Ram Singh was baptized and blessed by Guru Gobind Singh. His sons Ala Singh assumed the leadership in 1714 when Banda Bahadur was engaged in the fierce battle against the Mughals. A man with vision and courage, Ala Singh carved out an independent principality from a petty Zamindari of 30 villages. Under his successors, it expanded into a large state, touching the Shivaliks in north, Rajasthan in the south and upper courses of the Yamuna and Sutlej rivers while confronting the most trying and challenging circumstances.
In the middle of the eighteenth century, Baba Ala Singh, unlike many of his contemporaries, displayed tremendous shrewdness in dealing with the Mughals, Afghans and Marathas and successfully established a state which he had started building up from its nucleus Barnala.
In 1763 Baba Ala Singh laid the foundation of the Patiala fort known as Qila Mubarak, around which the present city of Patiala developed. After the Third Battle of Panipat in 1761 in which the Marathas were defeated, the writ of the Afghans prevailed through out Punjab. It is at this stage that the rulers of Patiala began to acquire ensigns of royalty. Ahmad Shah Abdali bestowed upon Ala Singh furm and banner, and the title of Maharaja of Patiala. After his death, his grandson Amar Singh succeeded and received the title of Raja-I-Rajaan. He was also allowed to strike coins.
After forty years of ceaseless struggle with the Mughals, Afghans and Marathas the borders of the Patiala state witnessed the blazing trails of Ranjit Singh in the north and of the British in the east. Bestowed with the grit and instinct of survival, making the right choice at the right time the Raja of Patiala entered into a treaty with the British against Ranjit Singh in 1808, thus becoming collaborators in the empire building process of the British in the sub-continent of India. The British treated the rulers of Patiala, such as Karam Singh, Narinder Singh, Mahendra Singh, Rajinder Singh, Bhupinder Singh and Yadvindra Singh with respect and dignity.
Maharaja Bhupinder Singh (Reign - 1900 to 1938) gave Patiala a prominent place on the political map of India and in the field of international sports. This included his dog kennels and he and the Maharaja of Jind were equally interested in a range of dog breeds. His son Yadvendra Singh was the first Indian prince to sign the Instrument of Accession, thus facilitating the process of national integration after independence in 1947. In recognition of his services, he was appointed the Rajpramukh of the newly established state of Patiala and East Punjab States Union (PEPSU), from its founding in 1948 until its merger with Punjab in 1956. The downtown area of Patiala is Adalat Bazaar, which means 'the court corridor', because this was used as the administrative building by one of the caretakers, before the King had reached the age of majority. The Royal Family are Jatts of the Sidhu family.
Gates of Patiala Walled City
Since Indian independence in 1947, Patiala has emerged as a major educational center in state of Punjab. The city houses the Punjabi University , Thapar University , Rajiv Gandhi National University of Law , Mohindra College, Government Medical College, Patiala, Multani Mal Modi College, Government College for Girls, Bikram College of Commerce, Government College of Education, Government College of Physical Education, Khalsa College, Government Ayurvedic College and Yadavindra Public School. Netaji Subhash National Institute of Sports, Patiala is a sports hub of North India.Rajiv Gandhi National University Of Law,Patiala ([rgnulpatilala.org]) It is the first national law school of north region established under Punjab Government Act of 2006
Patiala city has many playgrounds, including Polo Ground on Lower Mall Road; which houses an indoor stadium. Other sports facilities include Yadavindra Sports Stadium for athletics, Rink Hall for roller skating, and National Institute of Sports, Patiala. Punjabi University has its own sprawling sports grounds, including a velodrome.
Patiala is seat of many important administrative offices of Punjab state, including Punjab State Electricity Board, Punjab Public Service Commission, Punjab Pollution Control Board, Excise and Taxation Commissioner Office, Chief Engineer PWD (B & R), Punjab Languages Department, and State Bank of Patiala.
Thapar Centre for Industrial Research & Development (TCIRD) , is a Non- Profit Research & Development Organization situated in Patiala (Punjab). Established in 1984, TCIRD has been recognized as a Scientific and Industrial Research Organization by Government of India and has emerged as a premier technology development centre in Northern India.
Patiala's sway over the Malwa area extended beyond merely political influence. Patiala was equally the set of religious and cultural life. Educationally, Patiala was in the forefront. Patiala was the first town in this part of the country to have Degree Collage - the Mohindra College - in 1870. The famous printing press of Munshi Nawal Kishore was also established here in the seventies of the 19th century. Patiala has had a culture of its own, evolving into a distinct "patialavi" culture. Patiala has also seen evolution of a distinct style of architecture. Borrowing from the Rajput style, its beauty and elegance are, however, moulded according to the local traditions.
With the active patronage of the erstwhile rules of Patiala, a well established style of Hindustani music called the "Patiala Gharana" came into existence and has held its own up to the present times. This school of music has had a number of famous musicians, many of whom came to Patiala after the disintegration of the Mughal Court at Delhi in the 18th century. At the turn of the century, Ustad Ali Bux was the most renowned exponent of this Gharana. Later his sons, Ustad Akhtar Hussain Khan and Ustad Bade Ghulam Ali Khan achieved world wide fame and brought glory to the Patiala Gharana. This school of music continues to get the patronage of the State though the North Zone Culture Centre - NZCC - established at Patiala.
After partition of India, a lot of Bahawalpuri people migrated from Bahawalpur (Pakistan) and settled in Patiala. This Community has developed a vibrant, lively and happening colony known as Tripuri Town within Patiala. Most of the residents here in this colony speak their ancestral language "Bahawalpuri", which is similar to Pakistani language Multani.