25 July 2009

Postal Systems in Pre-Mughal Period - Under Allauddin Khilji

MEDIEVAL INDIA (1030-1757 A.D.)
Part 3

Under Allauddin Khilji (1292 - 1318)

A horse and foot-posts runner service was established in 1296 primarily for latest military news and prices of commodities. The military and civil mail of the soldiers was also served. Horses were stationed at every manzil and dhawahs appointed every half a kos or one-fourth of a kos (2 miles). A new feature was the News writer or Munshi posted at every town. He was to report every day or by every third day to the central administration, for which special horse couriers and runners were kept ready at every kos.

A postal department called ‘Mahakama-i-Barid’ under the supervision of two postal officers ‘Maalik Barid-i-Mamalik’ (Minister of State News Agency) and his deputy ‘Naib Barid-i-Mamalik’ fulfilled the dual needs of barid (post) and espionage. All this was under personal supervision with rigid laws laid down for the network. The fresh concept of a two-way news transmission was adopted, wherein the people were also kept informed about the well being of the ruler. This served as a deterrent for any insurgency.

The role of a Barid took on new dimensions during this regime. He was the confidential agent of the administration, whose work included intelligence gathering, classification and regular despatch, to the departments or direct to the sovereign at his discretion. Stationed at the headquarters of every administrative sub-division, a high level of integrity and prudence was demanded of these Barids, for which they were well paid

Another significant contribution was the first recorded Dak – chawkis and Thanas of this period. The latter were established between Delhi and Warrangal in South to receive daily military updates.

The precedent of despatching news-letters was made with the taking over of Devagiri in the Deccan. Thereafter, a regular postal communication became fully operational throughout the Deccan by 1318.This system of news-letters and news-writers became the hallmark of the communication system of this regime.

The entire series is part of an ongoing research project and can be accessed as a work in progress. Readers are requested to comment, share any resources, materials (maps, covers, books) or information that they feel is pertinent to the research. The same will be duly acknowledged as desired by the reader, collector or dealer.

Postal Systems in Pre-Mughal Period - Under Mohammad of Ghor, Qutab ud-din Aibak and Genghis Khan

MEDIEVAL INDIA (1030-1757 A.D.)
Part 2

Indian Postal History records and literature have been the dominion of British colonial officers and postal officials, in whose opinion an organised postal system to India was the gift of Britishers.

However, even in the medieval period, the foundations of an organised postal structure was laid, the mention of which we find in annals and chronicles of foreign travellers.

While the framework was laid by the Mughals, we find that the period preceding has a strong influence of the postal systems imported from the Central Asia by the Turks.

Under Mohammad of Ghor (1186 - 1206)

With the stretch of empire from Delhi to Bengal, the Arabic model of postal system was adopted. So the Dhawa (runner), Qasid (messenger) and Ulagh/ Ulaq (horse courier) took precedence, even over the Khola or secret service agent employed by the Pala administration in Bengal. These were more in the nature of news-couriers, the dhawa doubling up as errand boys, and the messengers acting as conduits for forward transmission of messages. The camel riding horse couriers were called ‘Jamaza’.

Under Qutub ud-din Aibak (1206 - 1210)

He consolidated the system established by his predecessor Mohammad of Ghor. A messenger post system was introduced by Qutub ud-din Aibak that was later expanded into the Dak Chowkis by his successor.

Under the Mongol invasion of Genghis Khan (1221 - 1226)

The Mongols under the dominance of Genghis Khan in particular, achieved a speed of communication similar to that of the ancient Persians. Their chief contribution was the development of roads and posts in the areas under their control, which in India merely covered the northern fringes. Genghis Khan established the ‘Horse Post House’ or yamb messenger system, found at a distance of every 25 miles. In between, were intermediary posts, which also served as sleeping quarters of the imperial foot runners, furnished with bells on their girdle. The runners were each assigned a 3-mile stretch, operating on a relay system, thus covering a ten day’s journey in one.

Though the period of Mongol influence was confined to a small time frame and terrain in India, the foundations of the first international postal system was being laid, so two innovations maybe noted. The practice of clerks at every Post House with clearly assigned duties, and the system of express delivery of letters. These riders deployed for urgent delivery, also wore jingling bells at waist like the foot-runners. The express relay system covered 250 miles in day and equally a night

The entire series is part of an ongoing research project and can be accessed as a work in progress. Readers are requested to comment, share any resources, materials (maps, covers, books) or information that they feel is pertinent to the research. The same will be duly acknowledged as desired by the reader, collector or dealer.

Land Postal Systems in Pre-Mughal Period - Under the reign of Mahmud of Ghazni

MEDIEVAL INDIA (1030-1757 A.D.)
Part 1

India has always evoked a sense of wonder and curiosity since time immemorial. Its rich culture, spices and trade supremacy in the realm of ancient maritime activity, enthused many an invader over the centuries. Each of them left his mark on the administrative and communication machinery.

As India has undergone a long period of variable sovereignties, communication systems have not endured. Even the well-structured postal communication of the Mauryas and Guptas of ancient India became redundant. Thus the overland trading activities along the northern precincts and sea borne trading hegemony with Europe, Africa and Asia become significant to studies of postal history. For they laid the foundations of a rudimentary postal system in medieval India, that was to remain for centuries to come.

Postal systems are cardinal to an empire’s administration. Yet, this has regrettably been unacknowledged by the conventional historian even though reams have been written about lifestyle and art! Though there is mention in the ancient Hindu texts, detailed records are either lost in obscurity or buried in libraries and regional untapped scriptures. Therefore one may treat the chronicles of early travellers as annals of the earlier epoch, until better resources and records come to light.

Herein, the records of travelling historians Marco Palo, Ibn Batuta, Ferishta and Ziauddin Barani have assumed significance as vital reference links for studies on medieval India. Albeit, there is the occasional lack of information on postal systems in Southern extremities of India, that remained outside the ambit of most foreign invasions.

The nomenclature adopted for the postal systems of medieval India adheres to the treatise that each ruler established his own postal system, tailored to meet the needs of the sovereign. This was essentially a royal or State postal system used for effective rule. Thus, the period under review vis-à-vis the postal system, has been divided according to the period of regime or from invasion onwards).

Under Mahmud of Ghazni (1001 -1025)

With dominion over North-Western and Central India, Ghazni established an elaborate network of foot messengers. Those for intelligence gathering were called ‘Sarran’ and horse couriers for urgent missives were called ‘Khail Sarran’, paid bonuses for their special service.

A mounted courier service called ‘Askudars’ conveyed private correspondence of important chieftains and also the official correspondence. Each province had a Postal headquarter, overseen by a Post Master called ‘Sahib-i-Barid’. His importance in the administrative hierarchy is evident from the responsibilities bestowed upon him ~ administrative report of the province, and conduct of the military officers.

The ‘Sahib-I-Risalat’ who was the head of the correspondence department, functioned as the emissary of the conqueror, receiving information through postal agencies and acting upon them.

The entire series is part of an ongoing research project and can be accessed as a work in progress. Readers are requested to comment, share any resources, materials (maps, covers, books) or information that they feel is pertinent to the research. The same will be duly acknowledged as desired by the reader, collector or dealer.

21 July 2009

A Philatelic Overview of the Ancient Maritime Trade

Logistics dictate that overland communications precede the development of maritime communications. The indeterminate lag between ports of call and unpredictability of seafaring are some chief reasons for the late evolution of an organised maritime postal system. As narrated in various religious and ancient literatures, India had a well-documented maritime trade, dating back to 4500 years ago to the period of Indus Valley civilisation. What is amazing is the scale and scope of the trade – with South Africa, Egypt, Greece, Rome and Assyria in the West and as far as the islands of Indonesia and Japan in the East.

Ancient period was the Golden Age of Shipping and Ship-building activity for India, which continued till about 13th century A.D. A little known fact is that this was one of the key industries in ancient India, for she excelled in the art of constructing vessels. Ship building technology adapted ancient Tamil methods to make catamarans

Sir William Jones is of opinion that the Hindus "must have been navigators in the age of Manu, because bottomry (the lender of money for marine insurance) is mentioned in it. In the Ramayana, the practice of bottomry is distinctly noticed. "

A vast repository of ancient literary works has random references to a brisk seafaring trade. The Rig Veda, represents Varuna having full knowledge of sea routes. The Ramayana refers to Yavan Dvipa and Suvarna Dvipa (Java and Sumatra) and Lohta Sayara (Red Sea Indians), who were masters of the sea borne trade with Europe, Asia and Africa. The Brahmanda Purana describes the world map drawn on a flat surface. Manu Smriti, the oldest law book in the world, lays down laws to govern commercial disputes with respect to sea borne traffic. Padma Purana says that world maps were prepared and maintained in book form. The Bible refers to Phoenician sailors who sailed to Ophir (Abhira in Gujarat) and brought back treasures. Harivamsa informs that the first geographical survey of the world was performed during the period of Vaivasvata (seventh Manu). Surya Siddhanta speaks about construction of wooden globe, complete with grids.

In Artha Shastra, Kautilya writes about the Board of Shipping and the Commissioner of Port who supervised sea traffic. Arthashastra devotes a full chapter on the state department of waterways under “navadhyaksha”. In fact the word navigation is derived from the Sanskrit word "Navgath". The Kathasagara, Sangam literature and Buddhist Jataka stories also describe the naval supremacy that enabled Indians to colonize islands in the Indian Archipelago.

India is also the country with written legacies in Aryabhatta’s indomitable Arya-Siddhanta, Varahamihira’s Brihat-Samhita and Pancha-Siddhantika. Kautilya’s legendary Arthashastra and the much-hyped Kama Sutra. So, it is indeed inconceivable that no testaments of an ancient maritime communication system prevailed.

The answer eluding me probably lies in the allusion contained in Surya Siddhanta, which mentions how the art of cartography is the secret of gods. This being the general belief in the ancient epoch, records were preserved in secrecy. Conclusively, they must have been purged or become casualties to vagaries of nature or marauders.

The Greek Periplus of the Erythraean Sea contains many detailed references to the Indian seaports. Muziris²(Kodungallur or Cranganore, Kerala), Poduke (Ariyankuppam), Barbaricum (modern Karachi), Barygaza (Bharuch, Gujarat) with the Tamil dynasties of Pandyas, Cholas and Cheras as trading partners. It is well established that the world's first tidal dock was built in Lothal around 2500 BC during the Harappan civilisation, near Mangrol harbour (Gujarat). Other ports were Balakot and Dwarka (1500-1400 B.C.), connecting to an ancient route along the Sabarmati river, Supara and Calliena (near Bombay), Kalyan, Chaul and Cambay in Western India, Puhar and Korkai; then Tamralipti in Bengal, Kadura and Ghantasala, Kaveripattanam (Puhar) and Tondail of the Pandyas in Andhra, Paralia and Balita near Kanya Kumari; Elceynda and Kottayam in Kerala

Indian maritime philately has been weaned in the traditional repertoire of European philatelic literature. The same has been well documented, with rates, routes and regulations. We know the overland - Red Sea route was established by Lt. Thomas Waghorn of the British Royal Navy between India and Great Britain via Suez and Alexandria. The route was across the Indian Ocean to Aden, up Red Sea to the Isthmus of Suez, and overland by camel to Cairo, thence by boats down river Nile to Atfeh, and along Mahmoudieh canal to Alexandria.

However, there also existed another overland-Red Sea route some 3000 years ago³, where Berenike (23° N, 38° E approx.) served as "transfer port"ª, accepting cargo from India. Goods were carried by camels or donkeys some 240 miles northwest to the Nile River, where smaller boats transported the cargo north to Alexandria, thence across Mediterranean to a dozen major Roman ports.

Maritime philatelic records pertaining to India are mainly post 18th century. So studies on the preceding medieval period and ancient postal structure are required.

It must be borne in mind that historical studies in postal system are incomplete without maritime communications. Regional literature and inscriptions, documents, maps, etc, maybe available that throw light on ancient maritime communications. “There is extensive archival material on the Indian Ocean trade in Greek, Roman, and Southeast Asian sources." Any input or know-how of such resources would be welcome by the author, as this a subject of ongoing research.

1. This ancient Indian ship-building technology has even been used by the U.S. while building the 110 ft. catamaran ships to ferry tanks and ammunition from Qatar to Kuwait during the Iraq war.
2. major port which was key to trade between ancient India and the Roman Empire
3. as in the Periplus Maris Erythraei, a marine guidebook of 1st century A.D., edited by W.H.
4. supported by recent and ongoing archaeological evidences

Sources :
Ancient India – R.C. Mazumdar
Ancient Indians knew Atlantic Ocean – Dr. V. Siva Prasad
Indian Shipping: A History of the Sea-Borne Trade and Maritime Activity of the Indians From the Earliest Times - R. K. Mookerjee
History of the Indian Ocean - Auguste Toussaint

The entire series is part of an ongoing research project and can be accessed as a work in progress. Readers are requested to comment, share any resources, materials (maps, covers, books) or information that they feel is pertinent to the research. The same will be duly acknowledged as desired by the reader, collector or dealer.

20 July 2009

Postal Communications under the Arab dominion

Arab influence of the Caliphate (7th – 11th century A.D.)

Quest of political power and wealth by the Arabs, led to their increasing presence in the Indian sub-continent. Initially by the peaceful means of commerce and later with conquests, extensive routes were laid over both land and sea.

The origin of the postal system during the Muslim rule can be traced to the conquest of Sind by the Arab ruler of Iraq, Mohammad bin Qasim, in 712 A.D. The Arab chiefs established many territories which necessitated maintenance of a regular line of communication with the Caliph of Bagdad, for military intelligence and administrative instructions. The special horse couriers carried letters from Caliph to Qasim on every third day and from Iraq to Sind in seven days.

The Caliph Mu’awiyyah (602-680) is considered the first ruler to have established the Department of Posts or Diwan-i-Barid for official communication throughout his far-flung Caliphate. Although the Barid* was used primarily for imperial communication, it later became less exclusive and included personal and business letters.(The word Barid means a “post-animal”, “post-horse”, “courier” or institution of “post” according to ‘Encyclopaedia of Islam’)

Barid messengers also became the bearers of information like the price of goods traded, but unlike their doot counterparts in ancient kingdoms of India, barids were publicly appointed officers. In this way, the Barid service played a role similar to modern postal system and is indeed used even in the modern times in various Arab countries as the original term for the Post.

The Caliph kept an elaborate system of posts at intervals of a few miles, where the official messenger could avail of a fresh relay of horses or pass his despatch to another member. These postal services extended across the Hindukush in the north as far as Kabul and Delhi in the South, with 930 post stations along six routes from Bagdad to India. The postal system under the Caliphate was independent of the political administration. It was solely used for conveyance of letters with two categories of officials, the nowaqquium and the farwaneqqyun. The former played the role of the modern postmaster, in charge of receipt, despatches and supervision of the conveyance of official letters, while the latter was in the garb of the modern Post Master General controlling operations at every province and reporting to the Caliphate at Baghdad. Thus, it is evident that the State postal systems in the Princely States of India were influenced by the systems pioneered by the Caliphate.

Relays of horses were used for long distance postal services, to keep the Caliphate and the Muslim invaders posted about the happenings throughout their vast territory. There is mention of frequent use of the horse-collar, the breast strap, the cross-bow, the stirrup, and even the wheelbarrow for rendering the horse service swift.

Though there is record of wheeled carriages, oxen drawn chariots, bullock carts, ekkas and tongas being used for trade and travel purposes, no mention has been found by this author of any of these being used for carrying mail during this period.

During this time, the Empires of the Han Chinese, Romans, Kushans, Mauryans and Greeks, provided a safe route for traders to travel. They encouraged long distance trade and speedy communication.

To increase speed of communication the speed of the messenger had to enhanced. Thus spawned good roads and well provisioned staging posts at which fresh men and horses were always kept ready. Much has been written about these swift horse couriers who galloped with fine abandon, braving the mountainous terrain, crossing swift-flowing rivers and ice-covered slopes in the most extreme of weather conditions.

In the ancient period, when external influences were primarily through overland trade and incursions, the swiftness of the horse messengers played a key role in communications, and to an extent, probably shaped the subsequent historical events in India.

Notes : * The word barid, according to Hitti is not derived from the Latin Veredus or the Persian burdan meaning ‘a swift horse’ but from the Arabic birdhawn meaning ‘a horse’ or ‘burden’. It may also be derived from ‘the towers built to protect the roads by which couriers travelled’ which was later used as yardstick to denote distance between two post stations.

Reference : P. K. Hitti, History of the Arabs
T.W. Arnold, Arab Travellers and Merchants, 1000-1500 A.D.
A. P. Newton, Travels and Travellers of the Middle Ages

The entire series is part of an ongoing research project and can be accessed as a work in progress. Readers are requested to comment, share any resources, materials (maps, covers, books) or information that they feel is pertinent to the research. The same will be duly acknowledged as desired by the reader, collector or dealer.

19 July 2009

A Historical Review of the Overland Routes in the Ancient Indian sub-continent

The East has always held an aura of mystery to the Western and Middle Eastern civilisations. India in particular, has lured explorers, traders and pilgrims over the centuries. Its spices, sandalwood and wealth of gold, drew early travellers, traders and invaders in search of lands where they could set up base.

Thus, overland routes and merchant links were established at very early stages, much before the Portuguese gained route by sea in the 15th-16th centuries.

These routes took a general South-Easterly sweep from Turkey through Middle-East to India, which later came to be part of The Silk Route extending upto China. Even today, the route through the Nathula Pass, on the Indo-China border, stands testimony to the routes traversing the ruggest rerrain of Northern India.

Pakistan issues highlighting the Silk Road stretches near Haramosh Peak (East of Gilgit) and alongside Indus river near Chilas, that are a part of Northern Pakistan today, linking with the main Silk Route of Central Asia and China

A historical review of the early postal systems in India reveal an element of anachronism. Well-laid out routes and messenger systems emerged from the trade movements and the dissemination of Buddhism, in the Northern and North-Western frontiers. An efficient communication system with the principal country was spurred by subsequent foreign invasions from the West. In retrograde, we find that the early and subsequent development of mail systems in India were influenced by the Persians, Greeks, Arabs and later, the Mongols.

The Arab and Persian chronicles record movement of nomadic tribes, explorers and invaders who laid the principal routes with Central Asia and the Far East (present China & South-East Asia). Before the Arab conquests, the Persians were the intermediaries with complete monopoly over the silk trade. The centre of trade activity as early as in 4th century A.D. was Asia, chiefly controlled by the silk traffic. Many of the important land routes connecting The Silk Route necessarily linked India, in particular the Southern (Silk) Route and the Ancient Tea Route, which passed though the north-eastern regions.

Postal history of a region being inexorably linked with the study of routes, early routes have been incorporated in this article (see map). However, the overland link quickly lost its importance as trade across the seas developed. Overland routes remained the framework of northern and north-western India. It is interesting to note that even in these times of helicopter access, the Nathula pass coninues to serve as transit and intermediary point of communication between China's Tibet Autonomous Region and India through Sikkim state.

A royal highway connected Taxila with Pataliputra and terminated at Tamralipti, the main port in the Ganges delta. On the western coast the major port of Bhrgukaccha / Barygaza (modern Bharuch) was connected with the Ganges Valley via Ozene (Ujjain). From the Narmada valley, the routes went into northwestern Deccan and continued along rivers flowing eastward to various parts of the peninsula.

Persian influence

Trends in the early periods suggest a predilection for overland routes, chiefly because of the hazards of sea travel and uncharted sea routes. The Persian Royal Road forged with many routes leading to India, also protected by the Achaemenids. The topography determined the course of travel and routes.

In the North-West, the presence of rivers and the numerous Wadis (riverbeds) served as natural roads. Not only did these Wadis aid navigation, but the presence of subsoil moisture and resultant availability of water also made travel easy. The mountain streams were also easy to cross or ford. So land routes followed direction of the Wadis. To the West of Sind, the topography was more conducive to land traffic. However, the presence of many rivers resulted in a high river traffic, evident from the mention of boat-bridges (made of timber and rafts) and rafts in the accounts of early travellers. As travel by water was slow, it was mostly preferred for carriage of heavy goods, the routes being confined to the Cis-Indus region.

The ancient overland routes stretching from Persia to India were mere foot-tracks (which later developed into highways). They were primarily nature-made paths and ruts created by hoofs of animals, and most likely centuries of human traverse. Along these tracks were shacks that served as rest places for the travellers (military personnel, traders and pilgrims). For safety and practical purposes, they travelled in caravans of pack - oxen and doubtless carried letters and messages for fellow tradesmen and private individuals. At the same time the military envoys and Generals conveyed important letters and firmans. Thus two parallel lines of communication operated, though the imperial system was more organised and speedy.

From early accounts we know that travel over long distances was either by foot or horse-back, the envoys using horses to carry urgent missives and other messengers conveying letters on foot. However, organised postal stations and relays existed at regular intervals along the Royal Road for use by royal messengers. It was only with the advent of the Arabs that a stable form of communication was adopted with the Indian territory and the tracks developed into highways.

The entire series is part of an ongoing research project and can be accessed as a work in progress. Readers are requested to comment, share any resources, materials (maps, covers, books) or information that they feel is pertinent to the research. The same will be duly acknowledged as desired by the reader, collector or dealer.

18 July 2009

Advent of Postal Communications in Ancient India

Meghdoot, the cloud - messenger

India – the land with the highest number of post offices and postal workers, is also the country with perhaps the most eclectic, yet effectual modes of mail conveyance ever used. Spanning across centuries, the methods of communication adopted have been varied, befitting the country's diverse topography and compelling history. It is no wonder that today, the world-wide demand for covers carried by unique modes continues to be high. You only have to look at the going prices at EBay to know how valued such covers are for a cognizant collector.

The advent of communications in India was born of need, as prevailed universally. For when man progressed from the Neanderthal levels, he developed want-lists that moved beyond the simple, basic and elemental to a societal dimension. Necessity gave rise to unique ways of communication, that inspired many a poet and litterateur. In particular, India with its ancient culture and the oldest of civilisations, boasts of a wealth of communication methods adopted over time, that have found their way into art and scriptures as well.

We find that the element of romanticism was very much evident in most forms of communication adopted in ancient India. The primitive drawings and heliographic characters found in caves and carvings of the temples and pillars. are vibrant stories with messages of their own. They can be interpreted as statements symbolic of the ethos of that period.

Messages were written on leaves and stones, using pictorial symbols and characters. They were depicted as rock paintings, stone engravings or carvings and sculptures.

These are the boon of archaeological discoveries and have been dated period-wise. Symbolic messages were engraved on stones, as sati stones and rock stones. Such stones dedicated to the memory of those departed, are a wealth of information to historians. Many such artifacts have been found in caves, barks of trees and threshholds of houses.

The most remarkable and emotive method of communication, was through music and lyrics. The rendering of the flute tenor or the melody and pitch of a song, conveyed very effectively a piece of good, bad or daunting news instantly across the village. Drumbeats and crude bushfires that cut across hills and valleys, were used to convey distress signals. The musical history of India is an integral part of the country's protohistory, where songs were the effective media of communication. Thus annalists and historians have had to take recourse to the wealth of oral history contained within the musical tradition of a given region.

In ancient India, the need to communicate was manifested in various ways. Dated and undated, scriptures and literature are replete with references. While RigVeda mentions a dog Sarama who was used to carry messages, the Atharvaveda records couriers referred as the Palagala.

Mythology and ancient history also records traditional emissaries conveying messages in an unconventional manner. The epic Ramayan contains many instances of Hanuman, carrying messages of Ram, flying over land and water. The narrative revolving around the message to Sita, kept hostage in Lanka, is a well-hyped one.

In Mahabharata, King Dhrupad dispatched the message instructing King Dhritirashtra to give away half the kingdom, through the Royal Priest. Centuries down, the practice of using Brahmin priests for carrying letters in a private postal system called the Brahmini Dak, reflects the importance accorded to such trusted human carriers. Mahabharata too has a romantic legend mentioning how a swan was used to convey the message of prince Nal to princess Damayanti.

Chanakya’s Arthashastra refers to doots who doubled up as spies, collecting information and revenue data for the King. The practice of using homing pigeons as message carriers also prevailed from the earliest times. Amazingly, they are still officially used by government departments as pigeon posts in remote areas. Orissa State Police is one such department using pigeons as mail carriers till date.

Then, of course, is the legendary mail runner, used by Kings for purposes of invitation, chivalry and war. The mail runner or the dak runner, has stoked the passions of many a poet, writer and artist, who have eulogized him, for his bravery and speed of conveyance. The mail carriers were also used by the merchants for business. The common man it seems either had little use for such a service or preferred to rely upon visiting relatives and travelling villagers.

One of the earliest evidence of a systematic postal service using foot messengers is found during the reign of Chandragupta Maurya (322-298 B.C.). A courier service between the capital and the outlying provinces of the vast kingdom served the needs of intelligence gathering and collection of revenue data, whence regular messengers, doots and pigeons were used for conveying the royal communiqué. However its efficacy was lost upon his death and the system fell through. Emperor Ashoka also devised a very efficient means of communication that helped him create a vast empire. During his period, camels were also in use to carry mail in some parts of Eastern India, like Jajpur.

Even before the northern parts of India came under Greek and foreign rule, ancient India already had a fairly regular and developed mail service in use by the Kings, albeit cheifly for miltary purposes. This was the golden period of Hindu rule, which owed much of its success and far reach across the Indian sub-continent, to the communication system in use.

Notes : The Indian sub-continent, was the seat of the most ancient of civilsations, the Indus Valley civilisation - a very advanced and scientific civilisation - whose demise was followed by a mushroom growth of Dravidian, Arabic and Persian cultures. The continual invasions from the West and the topographic logistics separating the Deccan India from the northern frontiers, witnessed an evolution of distinct Hindu and Islamic cultures, each of which bore influences of the incursions and changing military regimes. However this remained an undivided sub-continent, powerful even in the ancient period, attracting wealth seekers and power-mongers. The colonial period saw a segragation of the north-western extremities, chiefly Afghanistan. and subsequently, in 1947, the sub-continent was divided into the present nations of INDIA and PAKISTAN.

The entire series is part of an ongoing research project and can be accessed as a work in progress. Readers are requested to comment, share any resources, materials (maps, covers, books) or information that they feel is pertinent to the research. The same will be duly acknowledged as desired by the reader, collector or dealer.