Grand Trunk Road
Grand Trunk Road is one of Asia's oldest and longest major
roads. For more than two millennia, it has linked the Indian
subcontinent with Central Asia. It runs from Chittagong,
Bangladesh west to Howrah,
West Bengal in India, then across
India through Delhi, passing from Amritsar. From there, the
road continues towards
Peshawar in Pakistan, finally
terminating in Kabul, Afghanistan.
The route spanning the Grand Trunk (GT) road existed during the reign
of Chandragupta Maurya, extending from the mouth of the
Ganges to the
north-western frontier of the Empire. The predecessor of the modern
road was rebuilt by Sher Shah Suri, who renovated and extended the
ancient Mauryan route in the 16th century. The road was
considerably upgraded in the British period between 1833 and 1860.
It coincides with current N1 (
Chittagong to Dhaka), N4 & N405
Dhaka to Sirajganj), N507 (Sirajganj to Natore) and N6 (Natore to
Purnea in India) in Bangladesh; NH 12 (
Purnea), NH 27 (
Purnea to Patna), NH 19 (
Patna to Agra), NH 44 (Agra
Jalandhar via New Delhi,
Ambala and Ludhiana) and NH 3 (Jalandhar
Lahore in Pakistan) in India; N-5 (Lahore,
Gujranwala, Gujrat, Jhelum, Rawalpindi,
Peshawar and Khyber Pass
Jalalabad in Afghanistan) in
Pakistan and AH1
Jalalabad to Kabul) in Afghanistan.
3 See also
3.1 Ancient roads
3.2 Modern roads in Asia
6 Further reading
7 External links
A scene from the
Ambala cantonment during the British Raj.
Research indicates that the Grand Trunk road predated even Buddha's
birth and was called Uttara Path, meaning, road to the North. Salman
Rashid attributes the Road's construction to Chandragupta Maurya.
During the time of the
Maurya Empire in the 3rd century BCE, overland
India and several parts of Western
Asia and the
Hellenistic world went through the cities of the north-west, primarily
(Takshashila in present-day Pakistan. Takshashila was well connected
by roads with other parts of the Maurya empire. The Mauryas had
maintained this very ancient highway from Takshashila to Pataliputra
Patna in India).
Chandragupta Maurya had a whole army of
officials overseeing the maintenance of this road as told by the Greek
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, a distance of around 2600 kilometers.
Travelers on the
Grand Trunk Road
Grand Trunk Road on ponies ca. 1910
Sher Shah however remains the true builder of what is now the complete
stretch of GT Road, which was referred to as Shah Rah e Azam (Urdu:
شاہراہ اعظم or The Great Road). During his reign,
Caravanserais were built and trees were planted along the entire
stretch to provide shade to travelers. Wells were also dug, especially
along the Taxila section. The Mughuls later extended the road further
Chittagong and west to
Kabul and referred to the road as Sarak
e Azam (Urdu: سڑک اعظم, also meaning The Great Road).
The road was later improved by the British rulers of colonial India.
It was renovated again to run from Calcutta to
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 Suri, the road was dotted
with caravansarais at regular intervals, and trees were planted on
both sides of the road to give shade to the travelers and merchants.
Grand Trunk Road
Grand Trunk Road is still used for transportation in present-day
India, where parts of the road have been widened and included in the
national highway system, retaining the old name.
GT Road is mentioned in a number of literary works including those of
Foster and Rudyard Kipling. Kipling described the road as: "Look! Look
again! 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
Grand Trunk Road
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."
Distribution of the Edicts and
Pillars of Ashoka
Pillars of Ashoka along the GT road
Ashokan pillar currently at
Feroz Shah Kotla
Feroz Shah Kotla in
Delhi was moved from
Topra Kalan in Yamunanagar district
Mahabodhi temple at
Bodh Gaya along GT road
Kos Minar along GT road at
Taraori in Karnal district
Kabul Road, Afghanistan, is western-most, and most
dangerous, stretch of the GT Road
Mountain pass on the
GT Road above the River Jhelum in Pakistan.
G.T. Road in Lahore
Original GT Road passing through
Margalla Hills to Kala Chitta Range
Newly realigned G T Road passing by the westernmost point of Margalla
Islamabad to Kala Chitta Range
Silk route – ancient Sino-India-Europe route
Via Maris (International Trunk Road) – modern name of main ancient
international route between Egypt and Mesopotamia
Modern roads in Asia
AH1, or Asian Highway 1 – the longest route of the Asian Highway
Network, running from Japan to Turkey
Asian Highway Network
Asian Highway Network (AH) aka the Great Asian Highway - project to
improve the highway systems in Asia
Highway 1 (Afghanistan)
Highway 1 (Afghanistan) – 2,200 km circular road network inside
National Highways of Pakistan, all government highways
Pakistan – network of major expressways
National Highways Authority of India
National Highway (India)
National Highway (India) – network of government-managed highways
Indian Expressways – the highest class of roads in the Indian road
Golden Quadrilateral – highway network connecting major centres of
northern, western, southern and eastern India
National Highways Development Project
National Highways Development Project – a project to upgrade and
widen major highways in India
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.
^ Bergsma, Harold (2011). India: Essays and Insights by a Gora. Lulu.
p. 137. ISBN 8183320619. Retrieved 19 July 2016.
^ Bhandari, Shirin (2016-01-05). "Dinner on the Grand Trunk Road".
Roads & Kingdoms. Retrieved 2016-07-19.
^ Steel, Tim (1 January 2015). "A road to empires".
^ Jhimli Mukherjee Pandey (15 September 2015). "Cuisine along G T
Road". Calcutta: Times of India. Retrieved 2016-07-19.
^ Khanna, Parag. "How to Redraw the World Map". The New York Times.
ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2016-07-19.
^ a b K. M. Sarkar (1927). The
Grand Trunk Road
Grand Trunk Road in the Punjab:
1849-1886. Atlantic Publishers & Distri. pp. 2–.
^ 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
^ David Arnold (historian); Science, technology, and medicine in
India (New Cambr hist
India v.III.5) Cambridge University
Press, 2000, 234 pages p. 106
^ Salopek, Paul (April 4, 2018). "On Foot in Pakistan, Dodging a World
on the Move". National Geographic Society. Who built the Grand Trunk
Road? The Pakistani writer Salman Rashid awards this laurel to
Chandragupta, the remarkable founder of the Mauryan Empire. (321 to
^ Singh, Raghubir (1995). The Grand Trunk Road: A Passage Through
India (First ed.). Aperture Books.
^ A description of the road by Kipling, found both in his letters and
in the novel Kim.
Usha Masson Luther; Moonis Raza (1990). Historical routes of north
west Indian Subcontinent,
Lahore to Delhi, 1550s–1850s A.D. Sagar
Arden, Harvey (May 1990). "Along the Grand Trunk Road". National
Geographic. 177 (5): 118–38.
Mozammel, Md Muktadir Arif (2012). "Grand Trunk Road". In Islam,
Sirajul; Jamal, Ahmed A. Banglapedia: National Encyclopedia of
Bangladesh (Second ed.). Asiatic Society of Bangladesh.
Tayler, Jeffrey (November 1999). "India's Grand Trunk Road". The
Atlantic Monthly. 284 (5): 42–48.
Wikivoyage has a travel guide for Grand Trunk Road.
National Highway Authority of India
National Highway Authority of Pakistan
NPR: Along the Grand Trunk Road
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Grand Trunk Road.
Part of a series on trade routes
Maritime Silk Road
Tea Horse Road
Varangians to the Greeks
Volga trade route
Old Salt Route
Grand Trunk Road
Coordinates: 27°20′13″N 79°03′50″E / 27.337°N
79.064°E / 27