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Grand Trunk Road

The Grand Trunk Road was part of the old Silk Route, lifeless but a living epitome of India’s past majestic. Stretching over a bustling diagonal strip of 2600 km, it was in the words of Rudyard Kipling “such a river of life as existed nowhere else in the world”. Starting from monasteries in Calcutta and the Holy river Ganges at the sacred city of Varanasi, it passed through Delhi. It took a detour at Taxila and Julian monastery, turning towards Amritsar, Peshawar and Lahore and from there to north western frontier to Khyber pass, Kabul, Afghanistan merging in the Silk Road which bifurcated near Turfan and Dunhuang into northern and southern Silk Route. The Silk Road served as the “labyrinthine network of caravan tracks, exchange posts and bazaars which linked Europe with Turkey, Persia, Central and South Asia, China and Mongolia”. The silk trade became a bridge between the east and west. As various religions (for example, Christianity and Islam) and missionaries, explorers, fortune seekers, invaders, men of fine arts all entered India through the same route. The Buddhist monks and Sufis traversed the same route. It is said that ‘few roads can offer a better living snapshot of so many stratas of society as the G.T, Road. For the Europeans, it was “the long walk”. Being historically a significant link, it bound entire northern India together in one string.

As part of this Silk Route for centuries, Grand Trunk Road also played a significant role in the diffusion of ideas, dissemination of knowledge and technology, exchange of commodities and talents and in the propagation of religions. Due to continuous ingress and egress of missionaries, merchants, men of talent, manufacturers etc. between East and West. It was the busiest and the widest road of vital importance to the societies it touched - connecting the three important centres of civilisation and commerce. Interestingly enough, the Grand Trunk Road stretched on both the sides of border after partition of India and had even “served as the two way escape route for 75 million refugees caught between Indian and Pakistan divide.” On its way, the Grand Trunk Road is studded with centres of art and culture. There are specimens of stupas from Gandhara period excavated from Sirkap and various pieces of sculpture from 4th C. BC, Buddhist Stupas and monastries at Taxila, Takhti Bahi and Buddhist sites at Peshawar. The Shingerdara stupa is a beautiful sight. Crossing Indus at Attock Bridge, G.T. Road has Mahabat Khan’s mosque, Qissa khwani bazaar, and several monuments at other sites. Besides, the traces of what has been called the” Silk Road Culture ‘‘remains in all its various hues and enlivens the romanticism of past glories”. 

 


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