Dakshinapatha is a historical term which has been used to describe either
- the "great southern highway" in India, traveling from Magadha to Pratishthana, or
- a kingdom on the Godavari River in southern India
The Dakshinapatha trade route was one of two great highways that have connected different parts of the sub-continent since the Iron Age. The other highway was the Uttarapatha or the great northern road that ran from eastern Afghanistan, through the Gangetic plains, to Bengal. According to "Land of the Seven Rivers: A Brief History of India's Geography" by Sanjeev Sanyal, the trajectory of the northern road has remained roughly the same from pre-Mauryan times and is now NH2. However, the southern road appears to have drifted. Rama's route into exile in the epic may have been an early version of the road but by the time of Buddha it started at Varanasi, ran through Vidisha in central India, to Pratishthana (Paithan). It probably extended all the way to Chola, Chera and Pandya kingdoms of the extreme south. By the Mauryan period there would have been a branch from Ujjain to the ports of Gujarat. This made Ujjain a major city by Gupta times. Today Dakshinapatha survives as NH7 which runs much further east of the old road but still meets NH2 at Varanasi.