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 South Asian 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 South Asia'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.