Tag Archives: ashoka

Interesting Facts: The Grand Trunk Road (GT Road)

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The old face of GT Road

    The Grand Trunk Road was formerly also known as UttarapathSadak-e-AzamBadshahi Sadak, is one of Asia’s oldest and longest major roads. For at least 2,500 years, it has linked the Indian subcontinent with Central Asia. It runs roughly 2,400 kilometers from Chittagong, Bangladesh to Kabul, Afghanistan, passing through Allahabad (now Prayagraj) Howrah, Delhi, and Amritsar in India and Lahore and Peshawar in Pakistan.

    Chandragupta Maurya the cynosure of Mauryan Empire in ancient India, built this highway along the ancient route called Uttarapatha or Uttarpath in the 3rd century BC, extending it from the mouth of the Ganges in Bangladesh (also called the delta) to the north-west 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 even the British along the similar route. The old route was re-aligned by Sher Shah Suri to Sonargaon (central Bangladesh) and Rohtas (Bihar). The Afghan end of the road was once rebuilt under Mahmud Shah Durrani. The road was again considerably rebuilt in the British period between 1833 and 1860.

    Now I’ll take you through the highways the numbers of which mostly start with N. The road coincides with current National Highway1 (Chittagong to Dhaka), and then N4 & N405 (Dhaka to Sirajganj in Bangladesh), N507 (Sirajganj to Natore again in Bangladesh) and N6 (Natore to Rajshai in Bangladesh and towards Purnea in India). The road further moves on NH 12 (Purnea—Bihar to Bakkhali—West Bengal),  then 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 and towards Lahore in Pakistan) via Wagah. Then you have N-5 Lahore, Gujranwala, Gujrat (this Gujrat is a city in Punjab province in Pakistan), Jhelum, Rawalpindi, Peshawar and Khyber Pass (towards Jalalabad in Afghanistan) in Pakistan and highway AH1 (that is 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 evidence of the Grand Trunk Road even before the Mauryan Empire. It was called Uttarpath or Uttarpatha or the “Northern road”. The road connected, the eastern region of India with Bactria in central Asia north of Hindu Kush.

    The road before the modern Grand Trunk road was built by emperor Chandragupta Maurya and was based on the highway running from Susa (a city in Iran) to Sardis in Turkey. During the time of the Mauryan Empire in the 3rd century BCE, overland trade between India and several parts of Western Asia and the markets of Bactria went through, the cities of the north-west, primarily Takshashila (Pakistan) and Purushapura (modern-day Peshawar in present day 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 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, Takshila, Hastinapura, Kanyakubja, Prayag, Patliputra and Tam-ralipta also known as Tamluk in West Bengal, a distance of around 2,600 kilometres (1,600 miles).

     The route by Chandragupta was built over the ancient “Uttarapatha” or the Northern Road, which was mentioned by Panini, an ancient Sanskrit philo-logist, grammarian, and a revered scholar in ancient India. Emperor Ashoka has 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. Emperor Kanishka is also known to have controlled the Uttarapatha.

     Sher Shah Suri, the medieval ruler of the Sur Empire (Sur Empire was an empire established by a Muslim dynasty of Afghan origin), is known to have rebuilt Chandragupta’s Royal Road in the 16th century. The old route was further re-routed at Sonargaon and Rohtas and its breadth was increased. 

    Fruit trees and shade trees were planted. At every 2 kos, a sarai was built. The number of kos minars (the medieval Indian milestones along the Grand Trunk Road in north India) and even the baolis were increased. Gardens were also built alongside some sections of the highway. Those who stopped at the sarai were provided free food. Sher Shah Suri’s son Islam Shah Suri also constructed an additional sarai in-between every sarai originally built by Sher Shah Suri on the road towards Bengal. More sarais were further built by the Mughals also. Jahangir under his reign issued a decree that all sarais be built of burnt brick (toughened bricks) and stone. Broad-leaved trees were planted in the stretch between Lahore and Agra. Jahangir also 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 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 along with 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,“GT Road Ambala to Sonepat sector, which has 28  legislative assembly seats within the context of elections. During the elections in Haryana the area on either side of the GT Road form constituencies where there is no dominance of one caste or community. So, it is referred to as the “GT road belt of Haryana.”

    Roads are like living beings. They keep transporting men and material centuries after century.

By Kamlesh Tripathi

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https://kamleshsujata.wordpress.com

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Shravan Charity Mission is an NGO that works for poor children suffering from life threatening diseases especially cancer. Our posts are meant for our readers that includes both children and adults and it has a huge variety in terms of content. We also accept donations for our mission. Should you wish to donate for the cause. The bank details are given below:

NAME OF ACCOUNT: SHRAVAN CHARITY MISSION

Account no: 680510110004635 (BANK OF INDIA)

IFSC code: BKID0006805

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Our publications

GLOOM BEHIND THE SMILE

(The book is about a young cancer patient. Now archived in 7 prestigious libraries of the US, including, Harvard University and Library of Congress. It can also be accessed in MIT through Worldcat.org. Besides, it is also available for reading in Libraries and archives of Canada and Cancer Aid and Research Foundation Mumbai)  

ONE TO TANGO … RIA’S ODYSSEY

(Is a book on ‘singlehood’ about a Delhi girl now archived in Connemara Library, Chennai and Delhi Public Library, GOI, Ministry of Culture, Delhi)

AADAB LUCKNOW … FOND MEMORIES

(Is a fiction written around the great city of Nawabs—Lucknow. It describes Lucknow in great detail and also talks about its Hindu-Muslim amity. That happens to be its undying characteristic. The book was launched in Lucknow International Literary Festival of 2014)

REFRACTIONS … FROM THE PRISM OF GOD

(Co-published by Cankids–Kidscan, a pan India NGO and Shravan Charity Mission, that works for Child cancer in India. The book is endorsed by Ms Preetha Reddy, MD Apollo Hospitals Group. It was launched in Lucknow International Literary Festival 2016)

TYPICAL TALE OF AN INDIAN SALESMAN

(Is a story of an Indian salesman who is, humbly qualified. Yet he fights his ways through unceasing uncertainties to reach the top. A good read not only for salesmen. The book was launched on 10th February, 2018 in Gorakhpur Lit-Fest. Now available in Amazon, Flipkart and Onlinegatha)

RHYTHM … in poems

(Published in January 2019. The book contains 50 poems. The poems describe our day to day life. The book is available in Amazon, Flipkart and Onlinegatha)

MIRAGE

(Published in February 2020. The book is a collection of eight short stories. It is available in Amazon, Flipkart and Notion Press)

(ALL THE ABOVE TITLES ARE AVAILABLE FOR SALE IN AMAZON, FLIPKART AND OTHER ONLINE STORES OR YOU COULD EVEN WRITE TO US FOR A COPY)

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INTERESTING FACTS FIGURES & QUOTES–28

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Some southern states of India have more doctors than WHO norms of 1 doctor per 1000 people.

Dozens of private radio stations have paid huge sums for spectrum, but cannot broadcast their own news and political analysis. They can buy news capsules from AIR. This merely reinforces the AIR monopoly. When private TV can carry news and analysis, the ban on private radio is absurd. This misuse of public radio is a Congress-era invention, adopted happily today by the BJP.

 Islam is the only religion where over a dozen countries are officially Islamic. Many of them are not democratic, and where, fundamentalists have a big say in how to run these countries.

A coach simply needs to understand the team, the individuals, their goals and the dynamics between them, in order to be successful.

 Sexual predators: Only one in four cases end in conviction.

 If you move into a new town, it is not easy to find an electrician or plumber quickly. Alexa is all about connecting seamlessly with apps, with services, with people. Alexa is now available in 14 languages.

Since 2017-18 states have passed laws protecting doctors and healthcare workers from attacks, but enforcement remains questionable.

According to an estimate, only around, one in five rural household has a piped water connection.

Israel recycles around 94% of the water that it uses. Recycling can increase water availability even in times of rainfall deficiency. This can end the perennial water crises Chennai suffers for instance.

Rate your police thana. State of country’s police forces, leaves a lot to be desired. Union Home Ministry kicked off an exercise to rank the country’s best police stations. A similar exercise had been taken in 2017. But this time the exercise is expected to be more comprehensive with the police stations being judged on seven parameters such as crime prevention, proactive measures adopted and citizen’s perception and feedback. The overall goal here is to spur competition between police stations and create incentives to improve policing.

Pure water is the world’s first and foremost medicine—a Slovak proverb.

 India will benefit hugely if it can position itself as an attractive investment destination for companies looking to relocate production from China.

 Guru Nanak believed there were only two kinds of people. Gurmukhi, the God-oriented and Manmukhi, those who are self-oriented. A Gurmukhi devotes himself to God. He preaches truth and works for the welfare of human kind. Whereas, Manmukhi follows his own thinking and practices falsehood and selfishness.

A New York times investigation uncovered a surveillance system manufactured by Huawei and a state backed Chinese company being used in Ecuador to track individuals through mobile phones.

 ‘Squaring off’ is a term of English language that means to ‘settle the difference.’

 The ‘chakra’ the Asoka wheel, which is there in our flag, embodies for us a great idea. It conveys Asoka was one of the greatest emperors. Look at the words of H.G. Wells regarding Ashoka, ‘Highnesses, Magnificence’s, Excellences, Serenities, Majesties;’ among them all, he shines alone a star Asoka, the greatest of all Monarchs.’

 Lorraine Toussaint, the Trinidadian American actress says: ‘We all have a dark side. Most of us go through life avoiding direct confrontation with that aspect of ourselves, which I call the shadow self. There is a reason why. It carries a great deal of energy.’

 One piece of log creates a small fire, adequate to warm you up, add just a few more pieces to blast an immense bonfire, large enough to warm up your entire circle of friends; needless to say that individuality counts but team work dynamities—Jin Kwon.

 A company is known by the salesman it keeps—a quote from a book—Typical Tale of an Indian Salesman.

Don’t blow off another’s candle for it won’t make yours shine brighter—JAACHYNMA NE AGU,  Nigerian writer.

By Kamlesh Tripathi

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https://kamleshsujata.wordpress.com

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Share it if you like it

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Shravan Charity Mission is an NGO that works for poor children suffering from life threatening diseases especially cancer. Our posts are meant for our readers that includes both children and adults and it has a huge variety in terms of content. We also accept donations for our mission. Should you wish to donate for the cause. The bank details are given below:

NAME OF ACCOUNT: SHRAVAN CHARITY MISSION

Account no: 680510110004635 (BANK OF INDIA)

IFSC code: BKID0006805

*

Our publications

GLOOM BEHIND THE SMILE

(The book is about a young cancer patient. Now archived in 7 prestigious libraries of the US, including, Harvard University and Library of Congress. It can also be accessed in MIT through Worldcat.org. Besides, it is also available for reading in Libraries and archives of Canada and Cancer Aid and Research Foundation Mumbai)  

ONE TO TANGO … RIA’S ODYSSEY

(Is a book on ‘singlehood’ about a Delhi girl now archived in Connemara Library, Chennai and Delhi Public Library, GOI, Ministry of Culture, Delhi)

AADAB LUCKNOW … FOND MEMORIES

(Is a fiction written around the great city of Nawabs—Lucknow. It describes Lucknow in great detail and also talks about its Hindu-Muslim amity. That happens to be its undying characteristic. The book was launched in Lucknow International Literary Festival of 2014)

REFRACTIONS … FROM THE PRISM OF GOD

(Co-published by Cankids–Kidscan, a pan India NGO and Shravan Charity Mission, that works for Child cancer in India. The book is endorsed by Ms Preetha Reddy, MD Apollo Hospitals Group. It was launched in Lucknow International Literary Festival 2016)

TYPICAL TALE OF AN INDIAN SALESMAN

(Is a story of an Indian salesman who is, humbly qualified. Yet he fights his ways through unceasing uncertainties to reach the top. A good read not only for salesmen. The book was launched on 10th February, 2018 in Gorakhpur Lit-Fest. Now available in Amazon, Flipkart and Onlinegatha)

RHYTHM … in poems

(Published in January 2019. The book contains 50 poems. The poems describe our day to day life. The book is available in Amazon, Flipkart and Onlinegatha)

(ALL THE ABOVE TITLES ARE AVAILABLE FOR SALE IN AMAZON, FLIPKART AND OTHER ONLINE STORES OR YOU COULD EVEN WRITE TO US FOR A COPY)

*****

 

 

 

BOOK CORNER:GODS AND ROBOTS: Myths, Machines, and Ancient Dreams of Technology … by Adrienne Mayor

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Khidki (Window)

–Read India Initiative—

This is only an attempt to create interest in reading. We may not get the time to read all the books in our lifetime. But such reviews, talk and synopsis will at least convey what the book is all about.

Gods and Robots: Myths, Machines and Ancient Dreams of Technology’

Adriyana Mayor in 2018.

Published by Princeton University Press, New Jersey

    Albert Einstein had once said. “Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited, whereas imagination embraces the entire world, stimulating progress, giving birth to evolution.” So, let ‘imagination’ be the tagline of this write-up. As books are indeed an exercise of the author’s imagination. For who could first imagine the concepts of robots, automation, human enhancements, and Artificial Intelligence? Historians tend to trace the idea of automation back to the medieval craftsmen who developed self- moving machines.

    Let me now take you to a research scholar at Stanford University. Her name is Adrienne Mayor. She is a historian of ancient science and warfare, and a classical forklorist who investigates natural knowledge contained in pre-scientific myths and oral traditions. She has recently come out with a book titled, ‘Gods and Robots: Myths, Machines and Ancient Dreams of Technology.’ It’s a long title.

    Adrienne feels Hindu epics are full of AI (Artificial Intelligence) and robots, and legend has it, that they guarded Buddha’s relics.

    In this book the lady author explores how ancient culture imagined futuristic technologies and left behind those imaginations in epics and scriptures. She tells how Ashoka battled robots, and other tech tales from the past.    Faith can move mountains. There is a belief in India among the Hindus that ancient Indians had invented everything from spacecraft to missiles to the internet. Lady author tries to link this theory with her research work. She feels her research got her into the first inklings of the scientific impulse and that took her into the world of mythology, where ancient people first envisioned making artificial life, automation (or robots), self-moving devices, and other marvelous things long before the present day technology made them possible. She states these stories about robots and other machines in ancient oral traditions were first written down during the time of Homer, about some 2,700 years ago. But the Greeks were not the only people to imagine automation and machines in antiquity. Similar stories exist in the Ramayana, Mahabharata, and other epics. In Hindu myths, automations are made by the engineer God Vishwakarma and the sorceress or more appropriately the mystique of Maya. In Greek myths they are made by the God of technology. His name is Hephaestus—the Greek God of fire and metal working and the brilliant artisan Daedalus, a craftsman and artist again from Greek mythology. I consider such myths to be the world’s first science fiction stories. No single civilisation had a monopoly on such ancient dreams of advanced technology. Whether one looks at Greek, Egyptian, Hindu, Islamic, Chinese, Etruscan—the modern name given to the powerful and wealthy civilization of ancient Italy or any other ancient cultural myths about artificial life. They all contemplate what wonders might have been achieved if only one could possess the divine creativity and abilities of the Gods. But it’s not possible to draw a direct line of development from mythology over the millennia to the modern scientific knowledge.

    Further the lady author goes on to say that the Indian and Hellenistic cultures borrowed and influenced each other, beginning in about the fifth century BC, The syncretism only intensified, after Alexander of Macedon and King Porus began relations in the fourth century BC. Jain texts mention that the engineers of Ajatasatru, the  king of Haryanka dynasty of Magadha, invented armoured war chariots with spinning blades, which may have inspired later the Persian scythed chariots. Ajatasatru had powerful machines to hurl massive boulders,  even before Philip—II of Macedon obtained torsion catapults—those huge launchers. India was known for perpetually burning oil lamps, suggesting knowledge of naphtha, that was unknown to the Greeks and the Romans until much later. The travelling Greek sage Apollodorus of Tyana observed automated servants and self-propelled carts in the court of a ruler of India, and India was centuries ahead of Europe in the technologies of distillation and hydraulics. There was probably more give and take than we know about.

    Myths featuring flying chariots and synthetic swans, animated servants, giant robots, machines, and the like appear in the Mahabharata, Ramayana, Kathasaritasagara, Harivamsa, and other works. Self-navigating ships appear in Egyptian texts and Homer’s odyssey; android and animal automations are described in Homer’s Iliad and in Chinese chronicles. And further examples are myriad.

    The book goes on to share the story of android warriors guarding Buddha’s relics. The most detailed account is in the Lokapanatti, a complicated compilation of tales from Burma. After Buddha’s death, the story recounts that King Ajatasatru preserved his bodily remains in a hidden chamber under a stupa. The precious relics were guarded by ‘bhuta vahana yantra’ (spirit transporting machine). These were robotic warriors with whirling swords—reminiscent of the king’s novel war machines with spinning blades. Greek myths tell of automation guardians in human and animal form defending palaces and treasures, but the historical and technological details of this legend make it unique. The story says the robots were constructed from plans and were secretly transported to Patliputra from Romavisaya, the Greek-influenced west, by a yantrakara, that is a robot maker who was originally from Patliputra. The automation soldiers guarded Buddha’s relics until the great Indian emperor Ashoka heard about the secret chamber. Ashoka battled the robots and after he defeated them he learned how to control them. They obeyed him. Historically, we know that Ashoka did unearth and distribute long hidden relics of Buddha across the land.

    By third century BC, craftspeople and engineers in the Greek world, Alexandria, Arabia, India and China began making self-moving devices, flying bird models, animated machines, and automations like those described in myths. Some were miniature and some monumental, some had simple mechanisms but some were quite complex. These inventions were powered by springs, levers, pulleys, water, air, heat, and so on.

    Overall it’s an extremely interesting book of around three hundred pages. The book really impacts you and leaves you enlightened. Where, you might just be inclined to even change your mindset. But yes don’t rush through the book as it is a little complex in terms of old historical words and even geographies and names. You might even have to refer the glossary or even the dictionary a little too often. I would give the book eight out of ten.

Synopsis by Kamlesh Tripathi

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https://kamleshsujata.wordpress.com

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Share it if you like it

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Shravan Charity Mission is an NGO that works for poor children suffering from life threatening diseases especially cancer. Our posts are meant for our readers that includes both children and adults and it has a huge variety in terms of content. We also accept donations for our mission. Should you wish to donate for the cause. The bank details are given below:

NAME OF ACCOUNT: SHRAVAN CHARITY MISSION

Account no: 680510110004635 (BANK OF INDIA)

IFSC code: BKID0006805

*

Our publications

GLOOM BEHIND THE SMILE

(The book is about a young cancer patient. Now archived in 7 prestigious libraries of the US, including, Harvard University and Library of Congress. It can also be accessed in MIT through Worldcat.org. Besides, it is also available for reading in Libraries and archives of Canada and Cancer Aid and Research Foundation Mumbai)  

ONE TO TANGO … RIA’S ODYSSEY

(Is a book on ‘singlehood’ about a Delhi girl now archived in Connemara Library, Chennai and Delhi Public Library, GOI, Ministry of Culture, Delhi)

AADAB LUCKNOW … FOND MEMORIES

(Is a fiction written around the great city of Nawabs—Lucknow. It describes Lucknow in great detail and also talks about its Hindu-Muslim amity. That happens to be its undying characteristic. The book was launched in Lucknow International Literary Festival of 2014)

REFRACTIONS … FROM THE PRISM OF GOD

(Co-published by Cankids–Kidscan, a pan India NGO and Shravan Charity Mission, that works for Child cancer in India. The book is endorsed by Ms Preetha Reddy, MD Apollo Hospitals Group. It was launched in Lucknow International Literary Festival 2016)

TYPICAL TALE OF AN INDIAN SALESMAN

(Is a story of an Indian salesman who is, humbly qualified. Yet he fights his ways through unceasing uncertainties to reach the top. A good read not only for salesmen. The book was launched on 10th February, 2018 in Gorakhpur Lit-Fest. Now available in Amazon, Flipkart and Onlinegatha)

RHYTHM … in poems

(Published in January 2019. The book contains 50 poems. The poems describe our day to day life. The book is available in Amazon, Flipkart and Onlinegatha)

(ALL THE ABOVE TITLES ARE AVAILABLE FOR SALE IN AMAZON, FLIPKART AND OTHER ONLINE STORES OR YOU COULD EVEN WRITE TO US FOR A COPY)

*****