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.
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.
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.
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