arms and guns. They produced mostly luxury articles.
Though karkhanas were an important segment in the production, bulk of the
goods for internal and external markets were produced by the artisans
through the domestic system.
Trade and Commerce
Internal Trade There can be little doubt that the bulk of marketable
product was absorbed by local demand. The sale of these products was well
organised, a market day was fixed for each locality when all the goods were
brought and displayed for sale. These goods represented the surplus
generated in the village. Qasbahs or townships acted as major market places
for the internal trade.
For internal trade, the most important requisite was transport. Of the two
types of transport, river transport was relatively cheaper. The whole of
Brahmaputra, Ganga, Godavari and Kaveri basins had vigorous inland water
transport systems which facilitated in linking different provinces. Huge
barges of 300 to 500 tonnes were employed to carry goods from one place to
the other. These barges carried bulky and heavy goods like timber etc.
Road transport was a bit expensive because of various transit duties at
various parts of India. Banjaras carried the bulk of goods in ‘caravans’ or
qafilahs from one place to another. Efficient roads were laid especially by
Sher Shah, which connected different parts of the country. For example, the
Grand Trunk road from Sonargoan (Bengal) to Lahore went via Agra, from
where different goods were merchandised.
Foreign Trade Indian industry is recognised not so much for its internal
trade, but by its long distance trade carried on by both land and sea. Even
before Europeans came, India participated in trade with the West from times
immemorial. From the 7th century, India’s sea-borne trade passed into the
hands of Arabs, who began to dominate the Indian Ocean and the Red Sea.
Indian textiles and spices from Malabar attracted the Western nations. Before
the geographical discoveries of the 15th century, Indian trade with the West
was conducted by land. Thus, Lahore and Multan became the great transits.
India also exploited its vast coast even before the advent of the Portuguese.
Bengal, for example, had brisk      coastal trade with the Coromandel, long