What was the nature of Inland Trade followed by the Guptas?


Although direct evidence on this point is some­what scanty, we can infer that the benefits of peace and order established throughout Northern India by the strong arm of the Guptas helped the expan­sion of internal trade. This process was helped by the issues of abundant gold and silver coinage of excellent quality by the emperors.

The merchants must have travelled more or less along the well- known land and water routes. The Amarakosa has synonyms not only for markets and shops but also for merchants travelling by boats.

The seaports mentioned in the records of this period must have served as the natural outlets of the import and export trade borne along long-distance routes from the interior. A number of the most important trading stations of India are men­tioned by Cosmas writing in the early part of the sixth century.


The list comprises Sindhu, Orrhotha (unidentified), Calliana, Sibor and no less than five marts of Male (Malabar) on the west coast, as well as Marallo (unidentified) and Caver along this coast. Among other ports, flourishing during this period, may be mentioned Tamralipti at the head of the Ganga delta.

Because of its happy geographical position at the meeting place df land and water communications, as Hiuen-tsang obser­ves, it became the emporium of the vast trade of Eastern India across the seas. It was the true successor of the great seaports of Ganga and Tamalitis mentioned by the classical writers. It was the port of call for voyagers from China, Indonesia, and Sri Lanka to Eastern India and back.

We have direct evidence of the great trade carried from it into the interior. on his journey from Tamralipti to Bodh- Gaya, by many hundreds of merchants. Journeys of merchants from distant Ayodhya to Tamralipti are recorded in the eighth century inscription of Udayamana.

In Odra country there was, accord­ing to Hiuen-tsang, a famous seaport called Charitra, while Kongoda (modern Ganjam dis­trict), according to the same authority, grew very rich because of its maritime trade. That the people of the Ganga delta had the overwhelming share in the trade from Tamralipti is proved by reminis­cences of their maritime activities in the Raghuvamsam and the Dasakumaracharita

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