Kos (unit)

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Kos Minar in Delhi

The kos is an ancient unit of distance that has been in use in the Indian subcontinent for over three thousand years; evidence exists from Vedic times to the Mughal period, and even now elderly people in rural areas refer to distances from nearby areas in kos. A kos is about 2.25 miles.

It is variously spelled "Kos", "Kosh", "Krosh", and "Koss" when rendered in the Latin alphabet.

The Arthashastra gives this breakup of Indian units of length:[1][dubious ]

  • 1 Angul (approximate width of a finger) = approx. 3/4 of an inch;
  • 4 Angul = Dharnugrah (bow grip) = 3 in;
  • 8 Angul = 1 Dhanurmushti (fist with thumb raised) = 6 in;
  • 12 Angul = 1 Vitastaa (span-distance of stretched out palm between the tips of a person's thumb and the little finger) = 9 in;
  • 2 Vitastaa (from the tip of the elbow to the tip of the middle finger) = 1 Aratni or Hast (cubit or Haath) = 18 in;
  • 4 Aratni (Haath) = 1 Dand or Dhanush (bow) = 6 ft;
  • 10 Dand = 1 Rajju = 60 ft;
  • 2 Rajju = 1 Paridesh = 120 ft;
  • 2000 Dand (Dhanush) = 1 Krosh or Gorut = 4000 yards or 214 miles - nearly 3.66 km;
  • 4 Krosh = 1 Yojan = 9 miles - nearly 15 km;

Kos may also refer to about 1.8 km (1⅛ mile) or 3.2 km (2 miles).[2]

Along India's old highways, particularly the Grand Trunk Road, one still finds Kos Minar, or mile markers, erected at distances of a little over two miles[3]

References[edit]

  1. ^ [unreliable source?] "Valmiki Ramayana / Book III: Aranya Kanda - The Forest Trek / Chapter (Sarga) 69". Retrieved 2007-09-29. 
  2. ^ Measure for Measure, Young & Glover, 1996
  3. ^ C.D. Verma (2006-07-10). "Signposts lost in history". Tribune India. Retrieved 2007-09-29.