Trade Routes
Internal Trade Routes The most important internal route during the pre-
Gupta period was known as the ‘Uttarapatha’ or the Great Northern Route,
which went from Taxila to Mathura and connected several important
commercial centres. There were many subsidiary routes of this main route,
such as those from Varanasi to Mathura, Varanasi to Vaisali, Saket to
Sravasti, Kapilavastu to Rajgir, Vaisali to Rajgir via Pataliputra and Champa
to Tamralipti.
    The route between north India and south India lay through Avanti across
the Vindhyas, and was known as the ‘Dakshinapatha’ or the Great Southern
Route. It connected Mahishmati with Amaravati. Like its northern
counterpart, this route consisted of several segments, such as those from
Pratishthana (Paithan) to Nasika, Bharukachchha to Suparaka and Kalyan,
and Muziris to Kaveripattinam or Poompuhar.
External Trade Routes Till AD 45, Indian trade with the West (Seleucid
empire, Egypt and later Roman empire) was carried on mainly through three
overland routes. The first was the northernmost route which went along the
Kabul river across the narrow section of the mountains of Afghanistan. The
second route lay about 500 miles to the south-west where the Afghan
mountains end and open up an easy way across 400 miles of plateau from
Qandahar to Herat, and another way from the south-east of Qandahar through
the Bolan Pass into the lower Indus valley. The third route went across the
deserts of Makran or along the coast of Baluchistan. After AD 45, however,
most of this trade was carried on along with the monsoon route across the
Arabian Sea. But even before the discovery of the monsoon route, searoutes
existed between India and the West, though not regularly used. For instance,
India maintained connection with Egypt by the Red Sea route and with the
Seleucid empire by the Persian Gulf route. Both these routes were controlled
by the powerful Arab tribes. Besides, Strabo has left us an interesting account
of the participation of the Indians in the western trade by the Red Sea route.
    India’s trade with South-east Asia was carried on only by the sea routes.
In the second century AD, a regular sea route was in operation from the
seaboard of eastern India to the