Grand Trunk Road

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Grand Trunk Road
Route information
Length: 2,500 km[1] (1,600 mi)
Existed: Antiquity – present
Major junctions
East end: Chittagong, Bangladesh
West end: Kabul, Afghanistan

The Grand Trunk Road is one of Asia's oldest and longest major roads.[2] For more than two millennia, it linked the eastern and western regions of the Indian subcontinent, connecting South Asia with Central Asia. It runs from Chittagong, Bangladesh[3][4] west to Howrah, West Bengal in India, then across Northern India through Delhi, passing from Amritsar to Lahore in Pakistan, further up to Kabul in Afghanistan.[5]

The route spanning the Grand Trunk (GT) road existed during the Maurya Empire, extending from the mouth of the Ganges to the north-western frontier of the Empire.[6] The predecessor of the modern road was rebuilt by Sher Shah Suri, who renovated and extended the ancient Mauryan route in the 16th century.[7] The road was considerably upgraded in the British period between 1833 and 1860.[8]

History[edit]

A scene from the Ambala cantonment during the British Raj.
People travelling on the Grand Trunk Road on ponies

Research indicates that during the time of the Maurya Empire in the 3rd century BC, overland trade between India and several parts of western Asia and the Hellenistic world went through the cities of the north-west, primarily Takshashila (Taxila in present-day Pakistan, see inset in map). Takshashila was well connected by roads with other parts of the Maurya empire. The Mauryas had built a highway from Takshashila to Pataliputra (present-day Patna in India). Chandragupta Maurya had a whole army of officials overseeing the maintenance of this road as told by the Greek diplomat Megasthenes who spent fifteen years at the Mauryan court. Constructed in eight stages, this road is said to have connected the cities of Purushapura, Takshashila, Hastinapura, Kanyakubja, Prayag, Pataliputra and Tamralipta, which had essentially been around 2600 kilometers as per current estimates.[6]

Author Rudyard Kipling described the road as "such a river of life as nowhere else exists in the world' He writes: "Look! Brahmins and chumars, bankers and tinkers, barbers and bunnias, pilgrims -and potters - all the world going and coming. It is to me as a river from which I am withdrawn like a log after a flood. And truly the Grand Trunk Road is a wonderful spectacle. It runs straight, bearing without crowding India's traffic for fifteen hundred miles - such a river of life as nowhere else exists in the world."'".[9]

Mughals extended Grand Trunk Road westwards. At one time, it extended to Kabul in Afghanistan, crossing the Khyber Pass. The road was later improved by the British rulers of colonial India. It was extended to run from Calcutta to Peshawar (present-day Pakistan). Over the centuries, the road acted as one of the major trade routes in the region and facilitated both travel and postal communication. Since the era of Sher Shah, the road was dotted with caravansarais (highway inns) at regular intervals, and trees were planted on both sides of the road to give shade to the travellers and merchants. Sher Shah made many roads for tax free trade. The Grand Trunk Road is still used for transportation in present-day India and Pakistan.

Gallery[edit]

See also[edit]

Ancient roads[edit]

  • Kos Minar - medieval milestones standing in what are now India and Pakistan
  • Via Maris - modern name of main ancient international route between Egypt and Mesopotamia, called sometimes "International Trunk Road"

Modern roads in Asia[edit]

  • AH1, or Asian Highway 1 - the longest route of the Asian Highway Network, running from Japan to Turkey
  • Asian Highway Network (AH) aka the Great Asian Highway - project to improve the highway systems in Asia
Afghanistan
India
Pakistan

Literature[edit]

  • Farooque, Abdul Khair Muhammad (1977), Roads and Communications in Mughal India. Delhi: Idarah-i Adabiyat-i Delli.
  • Weller, Anthony (1997), Days and Nights on the Grand Trunk Road: Calcutta to Khyber. Marlowe & Company.
  • Kipling, Rudyard (1901), Kim. Considered one of Kipling's finest works, it is set mostly along the Grand Trunk Road. Free e-texts are available, for instance here.

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Bergsma, Harold (2011). India: Essays and Insights by a Gora. Lulu. p. 137. ISBN 8183320619. Retrieved 19 July 2016. 
  2. ^ Bhandari, Shirin (2016-01-05). "Dinner on the Grand Trunk Road". Roads & Kingdoms. Retrieved 2016-07-19. 
  3. ^ Steel, Tim (1 January 2015). "A road to empires". Dhaka Tribune. Retrieved 2016-07-19. 
  4. ^ Jhimli Mukherjee Pandey (15 September 2015). "Cuisine along G T Road". Calcutta: Times of India. Retrieved 2016-07-19. 
  5. ^ Khanna, Parag. "How to Redraw the World Map". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2016-07-19. 
  6. ^ a b K. M. Sarkar (1927). The Grand Trunk Road in the Punjab: 1849-1886. Atlantic Publishers & Distri. pp. 2–. GGKEY:GQWKH1K79D6. 
  7. ^ Chaudhry, Amrita (27 May 2012). "Cracks on a historical highway". The Indian Express. Archived from the original on 22 May 2013. quote: What Chandragupta had begun, his grandson Ashoka perfected. Trees were planted, ... Serais built. p.2
  8. ^ David Arnold (historian); Science, technology, and medicine in colonial India (New Cambr hist India v.III.5) Cambridge University Press, 2000, 234 pages p.106
  9. ^ A description of the road by Kipling, found both in his letters and in the novel "Kim". He writes: "Look! Brahmins and chumars, bankers and tinkers, barbers and bunnias, pilgrims -and potters - all the world going and coming. It is to me as a river from which I am withdrawn like a log after a flood. And truly the Grand Trunk Road is a wonderful spectacle. It runs straight, bearing without crowding India's traffic for fifteen hundred miles - such a river of life as nowhere else exists in the world."
  • Usha Masson Luther; Moonis Raza (1990). Historical routes of north west Indian Subcontinent, Lahore to Delhi, 1550s-1850s A.D. Sagar Publications. 

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 27°20′13″N 79°03′50″E / 27.337°N 79.064°E / 27.337; 79.064