The Info List - Grand Trunk Road

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The Grand Trunk Road
Grand Trunk Road
is one of Asia's oldest and longest major roads.[2] For more than two millennia, it has linked the Indian subcontinent with Central Asia. It runs from Chittagong, Bangladesh[3][4] west to Howrah, West Bengal
West Bengal
in India, then across Northern India
through Delhi, passing from Amritsar. From there, the road continues towards Lahore
and Peshawar
in Pakistan, finally terminating in Kabul, Afghanistan.[5] 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.[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] It coincides with current N1 ( Chittagong
to Dhaka), N4 & N405 ( Dhaka
to Sirajganj), N507 (Sirajganj to Natore) and N6 (Natore to Rajshai towards Purnea
in India) in Bangladesh; NH 12 ( Rajshahi
to Purnea), NH 27 ( Purnea
to Patna), NH 19 ( Patna
to Agra), NH 44 (Agra to Jalandhar
via New Delhi, Ambala
and Ludhiana) and NH 3 (Jalandhar to Attari, Amritsar
towards Lahore
in Pakistan) in India; N-5 (Lahore, Gujranwala, Gujrat, Jhelum, Rawalpindi, Peshawar
and Khyber Pass towards Jalalabad
in Afghanistan) in Pakistan
and AH1 (Torkhan- Jalalabad
to Kabul) in Afghanistan.


1 History 2 Gallery 3 See also

3.1 Ancient roads 3.2 Modern roads in Asia

4 Literature 5 Notes 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.[9] During the time of the Maurya Empire
Maurya Empire
in the 3rd century BCE, overland trade between 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 (present-day Patna
in India). Chandragupta Maurya
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, a distance of around 2600 kilometers.[6]

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 east to Chittagong
and west to Kabul
and referred to the road as Sarak e Azam (Urdu: سڑک اعظم‬‎, also meaning The Great Road).[10] The road was later improved by the British rulers of colonial India. It was renovated again 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 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. The 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.[11] 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 the 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."[12] Gallery[edit]

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
Topra Kalan
in Yamunanagar district

Kushan-era Mahabodhi temple
Mahabodhi temple
at Bodh Gaya
Bodh Gaya
along GT road

Mughal era Kos Minar
Kos Minar
along GT road at Taraori
in Karnal district

Jalalabad– Kabul
Road, Afghanistan, is western-most, and most dangerous, stretch of the GT Road

Mountain pass on the Kabul

GT Road above the River Jhelum in Pakistan.

G.T. Road in Lahore

Original GT Road passing through Margalla Hills
Margalla Hills
to Kala Chitta Range

Newly realigned G T Road passing by the westernmost point of Margalla Hills near Islamabad
to Kala Chitta Range

See also[edit] Ancient roads[edit]

Silk route
Silk route
– ancient Sino-India-Europe route Via Maris
Via Maris
(International Trunk Road) – modern name of main ancient international route between Egypt and Mesopotamia

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
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 Afghanistan


National Highways of Pakistan, all government highways Motorways of Pakistan
– network of major expressways


National Highways Authority of India National Highway (India)
National Highway (India)
– network of government-managed highways Indian Expressways
Indian Expressways
– the highest class of roads in the Indian road network Golden Quadrilateral
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". Dhaka
Tribune. Retrieved 2016-07-19.  ^ 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–. GGKEY:GQWKH1K79D6.  ^ 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 colonial 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 185 B.C.)  ^ https://books.google.com/books?id=tfE6DwAAQBAJ&pg=PA184&lpg=PA184&dq=sarak+e+azam&source=bl&ots=wk7jafH-b-&sig=1LiGM5YIwDQ_FgmdvFjyweAD8Ek&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwij9uyW7vPYAhVk9YMKHRbPAQkQ6AEISjAI#v=onepage&q=sarak%20e%20azam&f=false ^ 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 Publications. 

Further reading[edit]

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. 

External links[edit]

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.

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Part of a series on trade routes

Amber Road Hærvejen Incense Route Dvaravati–Kamboja route King's Highway Rome- India
routes Royal Road Salt road Siberian Route Silk Road Maritime Silk Road Spice Route Tea Horse Road Varangians to the Greeks Via Maris Triangular trade Volga trade route Trans-Saharan trade Old Salt Route Maritime republics Hanseatic League Grand Trunk Road

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