GT Road, also known as the Grand Trunk Road, stands as one of Asia’s oldest and most extensive highways, connecting Pakistan, India, and Bangladesh. Constructed in the 16th century by Sher Shah Suri, an Afghan ruler of India, its original purpose was to facilitate trade and commerce across the Indian subcontinent. Today, GT Road not only serves as a vital transportation route but also stands as a cultural and historical symbol, reflecting the region’s rich heritage. In this blog post, we will explore the history and significance of GT Road Lahore, which represents a crucial segment of this ancient highway.
The Grand Trunk Road, also referred to as Uttarapath, Sarak-e-Azam, Shah Rah-e-Azam, Badshahi Sarak, and Long Walk, boasts a history of at least 2,500 years, connecting the Indian subcontinent with Central Asia. This road spans approximately 2,400 km, starting from Teknaf, Bangladesh, on the Myanmar border and extending all the way to Kabul, Afghanistan. Along its course, it traverses major cities such as Chittagong, Dhaka, Kolkata, Prayagraj, Delhi, Amritsar, Lahore, Gujrat, Rawalpindi, and Peshawar.
Chandragupta Maurya, the founder of the Maurya Empire, initially constructed a precursor to the modern GT Road in the 3rd century BCE. Later, Ashoka made improvements, planting trees and establishing rest houses for travelers. Sher Shah Suri made significant enhancements in the 16th century, expanding the road’s width, building sarais (inns), and creating green spaces. During the Mughal Empire, more sarais were constructed, with Jahangir specifying that they should be made of burnt brick and stone. Subsequently, the British Empire further developed the road during the 19th century.
In modern times, GT Road overlaps with several national highways in Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, and Afghanistan.
Lahore, the capital of Punjab, holds a strategic location at the crossroads of various civilizations and trade routes, making it a melting pot of diverse cultures and traditions. GT Road Lahore, running through the heart of the city, has played a pivotal role in shaping its history and culture.
Ancient texts such as the Mahabharata and Buddhist literature mention the existence of the Grand Trunk Road, referred to as the Uttarapatha, linking eastern India with Central Asia and Ancient Greece.
Chandragupta Maurya based the precursor to GT Road on the Persian Royal Road, connecting northwest Indian cities like Takshashila and Purushapura. The road was expanded under the reign of Ashoka, who ensured the comfort of travelers with rest houses and tree plantations.
In the 16th century, Sher Shah Suri improved and rerouted the road, increasing its width and constructing sarais and baolis. During the Mughal reign, more sarais were built, and the route was referred to as “Sadak-e-Azam” by Suri and “Badshahi Sadak” during the Mughal Empire.
In the 1830s, the East India Company initiated the reconstruction of the Grand Trunk Road from Calcutta to Kabul, Afghanistan, turning it into a metalled road at a significant cost. The road found mention in literary works, including those by Rudyard Kipling, who likened it to a “river of life.”
In India, the sections of GT Road coincide with NH 19 and NH 44 of the National Highways. Historic sites along the road were submitted for UNESCO World Heritage Site consideration in 2015.
GT Road is home to several cities that offer glimpses into Pakistan’s rich cultural heritage, including:
As the cultural capital of Pakistan, Lahore boasts historic sites such as the Lahore Fort, Badshahi Mosque, and Shalimar Gardens. Its vibrant bazaars and delicious cuisine make it a must-visit destination.
About 70 kilometers north of Lahore, Gujranwala is an industrial city known for textiles, ceramics, and metal products. The Sikh Gurdwara at Chakki Sahib is a famous pilgrimage site for Sikhs.
Located about 280 kilometers northwest of Lahore, Rawalpindi is a historic city with a rich military and administrative past. The Ayub National Park is a popular attraction with its walking trails and picnic areas.
At the western end of GT Road, Peshawar is one of Pakistan’s oldest cities, known for its rich cultural heritage, including the famous Qissa Khwani Bazaar.
Over time, GT Road has undergone various changes and developments, reflecting Lahore’s growth. The road has been expanded and modernized, and new businesses and housing developments have emerged along its length. Nevertheless, it remains a significant landmark, attracting visitors from across the country. GT Road is also a thriving commercial district, offering various shops, restaurants, and businesses to both locals and tourists.
Located in prime location of Main GT Road, a minute’s drive from DHA Phase 2, DHA Phase 3 & DHA Phase 5, and Emaar. NORA Residences Islamabad is well-connected to major transportation routes, including the Islamabad Expressway, making it easy for residents to access other parts of the city. It is also in close proximity to a range of amenities, including international schools, shopping malls, and restaurants, providing convenience and accessibility to its residents.
In recent years, the government of Pakistan has undertaken several projects to improve GT Road, including widening the road, enhancing drainage systems, and building pedestrian bridges and underpasses to enhance safety and accessibility. Despite these changes, GT Road’s history and culture continue to play a central role in shaping Lahore’s identity. It stands not only as a means of transportation but also as a living testament to Lahore’s vibrant past and promising future.