|Grand Trunk Road|
|Uttarapath, Sadak-e-Azam, Shah Rah-e-Azam, Badshahi Sadak, Long Walk[a]|
|Length||2,400 km (1,500 mi)|
|Existed||before 322 BCE–present|
|History||Mahajanapadas, Maurya, Sur, Mughal and British Empires|
|Time period||322+ BCE–present|
|Cultural significance||History of the Indian subcontinent and South Asian history|
|East end||Teknaf, Bangladesh|
|West end||Kabul, Afghanistan|
|Major cities||Cox's Bazar, Chittagong, Feni, Comilla, Narayanganj, Dhaka, Rajshahi, Kolkata, Burdwan, Durgapur, Asansol, Dhanbad Varanasi, Prayagraj, Kanpur, Agra, Mathura, Aligarh, Delhi, Sonipat, Panipat, Karnal, Kurukshetra, Ambala, Ludhiana, Jalandhar, Amritsar, Sasaram, Lahore, Gujranwala, Gujrat, Rawalpindi, Peshawar, Jalalabad, Kabul|
The Grand Trunk Road (formerly known as Uttarapath, Sarak-e-Azam, Shah Rah-e-Azam, Badshahi Sarak, and Long Walk) 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 km (1,491 mi) from Teknaf, Bangladesh on the border with Myanmar west to Kabul, Afghanistan, passing through Chittagong and Dhaka in Bangladesh, Kolkata, Lucknow, Delhi, and Amritsar in India, and Lahore, Gujrat, Rawalpindi, and Peshawar in Pakistan.
The highway was built along an ancient route called Uttarapatha in the 3rd century BCE, extending it from the mouth of the Ganges to the north-western frontier of India. Further improvements to this road were made under Ashoka. The old route was re-aligned by Sher Shah 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, Feni, (Chittagong to Dhaka), N4 & N405 (Dhaka to Sirajganj), N507 (Sirajganj to Natore) and N6 (Natore to Rajshai towards Purneain India; 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, Lalamusa, Jhelum, Rawalpindi, Peshawar and Khyber Pass towards Jalalabad in Afghanistan) in Pakistan and AH1 (Torkham-Jalalabad to Kabul) to Ghazni 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.
See also: Uttarapatha
The Buddhist literature and Indian epics such as Mahabharata provide the existence of Grand Trunk road even before the Maurya Empire and was called Uttarapatha or the "Northern road". The road connected the eastern region of India with Central Asia and Ancient Greece.
The precursor of the modern Grand Trunk road was built on the orders of the emperor Chandragupta Maurya and was inspired by the Persian Royal Road (more precisely, its eastern stretch, the Great Khurasan Road that ran from Media to Bactria). 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 (present-day Taxila and Peshawar respectively, 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 for the travelers. The emperor Kanishka is also known to have controlled the Uttarapatha.
Sher Shah Suri, the medieval ruler of the Sur Empire, took to repair The Chandragupta's Royal Road in the 16th century. The old route was further rerouted at Sonargaon and Rohtas and its breadth increased, 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 Suri 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 over all 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" by the 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 the Grand Trunk Road, from Calcutta, through Delhi, to Kabul, Afghanistan was rebuilt at a cost of £1000/mile.
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,Banho, Grand Trunk Road". The Indian sections of the Grand Trunk Road coincide with NH 19 and NH 44 of the National Highways in India.
Psephologists sometimes refer to the area around the GT Road as the "GT Road belt" it is also known as Gujarat road sometimes within the context of elections. For example, during the elections in Haryana the area on either side of the GT Road from Ambala to Sonipat, 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".
Grand Trunk Road in Uttarpradesh, India
Grand Trunk Road towards Burdwan from Hooghly.
Mountain pass on the Kabul–Jalalabad Road, Afghanistan.