|Grand Trunk Road|
|Uttarapath, Sadak-e-Azam, Badshahi Sadak[a]|
|Length||2,700 km (1,700 mi)|
|Existed||before 322 BCE–present|
|History||Mahajanapadas, Maurya, Sur, Mughal and British Empires|
|Time period||before c. 322 BCE-present|
|History of the Indian subcontinent and South Asian history|
|East end||Chittagong, Bengal (present-day Bangladesh)|
|West end||Kabul, Afghanistan|
|Major cities||Chittagong, Dhaka, Rajshahi, Purnea, Durgapur, Patna, Varanasi, Allahabad, Kanpur, Aligarh, Agra, Mathura, Delhi, Sonipat, Panipat, Karnal, Kurukshetra, Ambala, Ludhiana, , Jalandhar, Amritsar, Lahore, Gujranwala, Rawalpindi, Peshawar, Jalalabad, Kabul|
The Grand Trunk Road also formerly known as Uttarapath, Sadak-e-Azam, Badshahi Sadak, is one of Asia's oldest and longest major roads. For at least 2,500 years, it has linked Central Asia to the Indian subcontinent. It runs roughly 2,400 kilometers from Chittagong, Bangladesh west to Kabul, Afghanistan, passing through Howrah, Allahabad (Prayagraj), Delhi, and Amritsar in India, and Lahore, Rawalpindi, and Peshawar in Pakistan.
Chandragupta Maurya of the Mauryan Empire in ancient India, built his highway along this ancient route called Uttarapatha in the 3rd century BC, extending it from the mouth of the Ganges to the north-western frontier of the Empire. Further improvements to this road were made under Ashoka. It was rebuilt many times under Sher Shah Suri, the Mughals and the British along a partly similar route. The old route was re-aligned by Suri to Sonargaon and Rohtas. The Afghan end of the road was rebuilt under Mahmud Shah Durrani. The road was considerably rebuilt in the British period between 1833 and 1860.
The road 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 (Purnea to Bakkhali ), NH 27 (Purnea to Patna), NH 19 (Kolkata to Agra), NH 44 (Agra to Jalandhar via New Delhi, Sonipat, Panipat, Ambala and Ludhiana) and NH 3 (Jalandhar to Attari, Amritsar in India towards Lahore in Pakistan) via Wagah; N-5 (Lahore, Gujranwala, Gujrat, Jhelum, Rawalpindi, Peshawar and Khyber Pass towards Jalalabad in Afghanistan) in Pakistan and AH1 (Torkham-Jalalabad to Kabul) in Afghanistan.
Over the centuries, the road acted as one of the major trade routes in the region and facilitated both travel and postal communication. The Grand Trunk Road is still used for transportation in present-day Indian subcontinent, where parts of the road have been widened and included in the national highway system.
The Buddhist literature and Indian epics such as Mahabharatha provide the existence of Grand Trunk road even before the Mauryan empire and was called Uttarpatha or the "Northern road". The road connected the eastern region of India with central Asia or Bactria.
The precursor of the modern Grand Trunk road was built by the emperor Chandragupta Maurya and was based on the highway running from Susa to Sardis. During the time of the Mauryan Empire in the 3rd century BCE, overland trade between India and several parts of Western Asia and Bactria world went through the cities of the north-west, primarily Takshashila and Purushapura modern-day Peshawar (in present-day in Pakistan). Takshashila was well connected by roads with other parts of the Mauryan Empire. The Mauryas had maintained this very ancient highway from Takshashila to Patliputra (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, Patliputra and Tamralipta, a distance of around 2,600 kilometres (1,600 mi).
The route of Chandragupta was built over the ancient "Uttarapatha" or the Northern Road, which had been mentioned by Pāṇini. The emperor Ashoka had it recorded in his edict about having trees planted, wells built at every half kos and many "nimisdhayas", which is often translated as rest-houses along the route. The emperor Kanishka is also known to have controlled the Uttarapatha.
Sher Shah Suri, the medieval ruler of the Sur Empire, took to rebuilding Chandragupta's Royal Road in the 16th century. The old route was further rerouted at Sonargaon and Rohtas and its breadth increased. Fruit trees and shade trees were planted. At every 2 kos, a sarai was built, the number of kos minars and baolis increased. Gardens were also built alongside some sections of the highway. Those who stopped at the sarai were provided food for free. His son Islam Shah Suri constructed an additional sarai in-between every sarai originally built by Sher Shah on the road toward Bengal. More sarais were built under the Mughals. Jahangir under his reign issued a decree that all sarais be built of burnt brick and stone. Broad-leaved trees were planted in the stretch between Lahore and Agra and he built bridges overall water bodies that were situated on the path of the highways. The route was referred to as "Sadak-e-Azam" by Suri, and "Badshahi Sadak" during Mughals.
In the 1830s the East India Company started a program of metalled road construction, for both commercial and administrative purposes. The road, now named Grand trunk road, from Calcutta, through Delhi, to Peshawar (present-day Pakistan) was rebuilt at a cost of £1000 / mile. A Public Works Department along with a training institute (the erstwhile Thomason College of Civil Engineering which is now known as the Indian Institute of Technology Roorkee was founded, to train and employ local surveyors, engineers, and overseers, to perform the work, and in future maintain it and other roads.
The 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 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."
The ensemble of historic sites along the road in India was submitted to the tentative list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in 2015, under the title "Sites along the Uttarapath, Badshahi Sadak, Sadak-e-Azam, Grand Trunk Road".
Psephologists sometimes refer to the area around the GT Road as the "GT Road belt" within the context of elections. For example, during the elections in Haryana the area on either side of the GT Road from Ambala to Sonepat, which has 28 legislative assembly constituencies where there is no dominance of one caste or community, is referred to as the "GT road belt of Haryana".
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Grand Trunk Road.|
|Wikivoyage has a travel guide for Grand Trunk Road.|