From the earliest times, trade routes have determined the course of progress and prosperity have broken the isolation of regional economic Cultural links during the protohistoric period’ indicate existence of some sort of tracks or rout the period. The people of the Harappan or civilisation had effective and regular trade rout they had also developed an effective system water transport.

This development of the me of water communication probably led to the of an urban civilisation in the Indus Valley, e remarkable affinity in the elements of Mohenjodaro and other contemporary lies, which were hundreds of miles apart, “supposes the existence of trade route links, tile the river routes were easier and more deniable for the Indus Valley traders, the use of the routes cannot altogether be ruled out routes connected the Harappan cities with her contemporary cities outside India such as inner, Elam, Susa, etc.

Distribution of Indus was not confined to the markets of umer and Elam, but directly or indirectly they cached the cities of Anatolia, Crete, and Greece, the Indus commodities reached the markets of? Probably through the intermediaries of umer during this period, Mesopotamian and Indian traders exported to Ur various Indian com­modities like gold, silver, copper, lapis lazuli, stone, beads, ivory combs, ornaments, etc.

Most of these commodities were the local produce of Mohenjodaro, Harappa, and Lothal. Lothal, here a dockyard has been discovered, was the main mart for export of copper and ivory to, Kish, Lagsh, Tell-asmar, Susa, Diyala, etc. Indians also sent their commodities to the mart of Ur through the traders of Bahrain, who were active as middlemen.


After the decline of the Harappan Civilisation, the Aryans might have opened new routes through the pass of Khyber to connect India with Bactria and to maintain their tribal relationship with the Aryan communities of Central Asia. This route between India and Bactria through the pass of Khyber and the valley of Kabul became the main route between India and Western Asia.

During the gradual expansion of the Aryans in India, new internal routes were also opened, and a large number of towns emerged along these routes, which is evidenced by the emergence of a number of Painted, Grey Ware sites, such as, Indraprastha, Hastinapur, Ahichhatra, Kampilya, etc.

The streams of Ganga and Yamuna were two most important northern river routes. During the Bud­dhist period, the trade routes became established and continued to be followed during the sub­sequent centuries. The most important route during the period was known as Uttarapalha or the Great Northern Route, which went from Taxila to Mathura and connected several important com­mercial centres.

There were many subsidiary routes of this Great Route, such as, from Varanasi to Mathura, Varanasi to Vaisali, Saket to Sravasti, Kapilavastu to Rajagriha, Vaisali to Rajagriha via Pataliputra, Champa to Tamralipti, etc.


The Great Northern Route was the main commercial route during the rule of the Mauryas. Megasthenes has described this route in eight stages. The Greeks described this route as the ‘Royal Road’. Several by-routes converged on this route at many places.

The route between the North and the South lay through Avanti across the Vindhyas. It has been called the Dakshinapatha Marga, which con­nected Mahismati with Amravati. Like the Ul- tarapatha, the Southern Route was divided into different segments, such as, Pratisthana to Nasik, Bharukachchha to Sopara (Surparaka) and Kalayan, Muziris to Kaveripattanam or Puhar, etc.

According to the account of an anonymous Alexandrian sailor, the Periplus, the middle stream of the Indus at the mouth was navigable and on this stream there existed a commercial emporium named Barbaricum, which was the port of the town known as Minnagara. Cargoes for export and import were transported by the ferry boats between Minnagara and Barbaricum.

Bharukachha or Barygaza of the Greek accounts was one of the most important emporiums of India, particularly of Western India. The next port below Bharukachchha was Surparaka (Sopara), which was a seaport of a market town named Kalyan. Muziris on the Malabar Coast, Kaveripat­tanam or Puhar and Arikamedu on the Tamil coast were three most important emporiums of Roman trade.


All these three ports had two-fold traffic, one local or coastal and the other sea traffic. In the time of Ptolemy, there was one more port on the Tamil coast named as Nikam or Negapattam which was very famous for its trade. Masalia of thePeriplus or modern Masulipatanam was a very famous commercial centre in Andhra.

Gang of the Periplus, which was another name of the town of Tamralipati, was a great terminal port on the eastern coast in Bengal. From there the ships took off for their destinations in Suvarnab- humi and Sri Lanka. Western as well as eastern coasts had a number of good harbours and em­poriums which were centres of export and import trade of India.