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C O V E R  S T O R Y

Indian roads which way ??

title
PANDIT JI and PANDITAYEN are sitting on a couch with a map of India spread on panditijithe table. They are at loggerheads over the best means of transport for their trip to Rajasthan.”I want to take a train,”says Panditji. But Panditayen waves him aside. “No, let us take a bus. It would be more comfortable and convenient.

Who uses trains these days for such small distances?” argues Panditayen. So finally, Pandit ji gives in and agrees to take a bus. Off they go with their packs and bags to the bus terminal.

Now comfortably ensconced in the bus, looking outside the window, Pandit ji sees a well laid out road, stretching out before him with lines of trees on each side.

from there to here

Indian roads through the ages

>> Harappa and Mahenjodro (5000 BC - sssssss2500 BC) of the Indus Valley civilisation had road maps as a part of their city plan.

>> In Vedic literature, Pushan (also referred to as the sun) is the god of pathways and roads. Prayers were addressed to Gods to give comfortable, wide, and non-thorny roads for travel.

>>
In 6th century BC, ruler Bimbisara built a road in a place called Rajgir in Patna, Bihar, which is still in use.

>>
Ancient texts refer to elephants and caravan loads that travelled, and the route they took. Early Buddhist texts mention trunk and ancillary roads, which existed between 700-185 BC.

>>
The Mauryan Empire (first century AD) built roads to connect important trade centres. Greek ambassador Megasthenese, when sent to Chandragupta Maurya's court, recorded a Rajamarga (king's highway): a trade route and precursor to the modern grand trunk road. Any traffic jam on the Rajamarga was liable to punishment! State roads or rashtrapatha linked smaller distances.

>>
Roads and their maintenance became significant during Emperor Asoka’s reign. There were huge monoliths across the country, a Banyan tree every 1.5 km, rest houses and watering stations.

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Sankara, an Indian philosopher, traversed the whole length and breadth of the country setting up five pilgrimage centres. Imagine how many roads must have been there for his journey was on foot.

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Emperor Sher Shah Suri built the longest road in India, between Dacca and Indus running through Agra and Delhi! He built four such long roads.

>>
By the Mughal period there was hectic traffic on the roads and a watchman was appointed for the safety of travellers.

panditji

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