The Arthashastra devotes consid­erable attention to roads and market towns. It makes an intelligent appreciation of the relative value of different trade routes. The routes leading to the Himalayas were better than those leading to the Dakshinapatha. With the establishment and spread of the Mauryan power, the balance of trade shifted in favour of the South.

More routes leading to that part of the South opened out and the volume of trade increased. The Mauryan Empire controlled not only all the internal trade routes but most of the land and sea routes leading outside. The royal highway from the north- west to Pataliputra was considered an important one.

It has continued to be so through the centuries, being popularly known as the Grand Trunk Road. Megasthenes refers to government officers-in- charge of roads and records how sighboards were set up at intervals to indicate turnings and distan­ces. He also refers to the royal road from the north-west to Pataliputra as a road existing in earlier times.

‘The routes of immemorial antiquity which connected India with Babylonia was, for the most part, far more frequented, more impor­tant and better developed (than the more norther­ly route).


They converged on Seleuceia on the Tigris, the great political and commercial city of Seleucus I, the eastern capital of that king and his successors, the inheritor of Babylon’s pre­eminence’. Tamluk (Tamralipti) on the east coast and Broach and Sopara on the west coast were the most important sea-ports of India in those times.