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Sites along the Uttarapath, Badshahi Sadak, Sadak-e-Azam, Grand Trunk Road

Date of Submission: 15/04/2015
Criteria: (ii)(iv)(vi)
Category: Cultural
Submitted by:
Permanent Delegation of India to UNESCO
Ref.: 6056
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Property names are listed in the language in which they have been submitted by the State Party

Description

S. No.

State, Province or Region:

Names of the component parts:

Latitude and Longitude, or UTM coordinates:

1.

Punjab

Ancient Site and Buddhist Stupa (Sanghol) Fatehgarh Sahib

30° 47' 4'' N 76° 23' 18'' E

2.

Punjab

Ancient site in (Ropar) Rupnagar

30° 57' 57'' N 76° 31' 23'' E

3.

Punjab

Ancient site at Firozpur

30° 54' 59'' N 74° 35' 60'' E

4.

Punjab

Ancient site at Bathinda

30° 12' 39'' N 74° 56' 43'' E

5.

Punjab

Ancient site, Rambagh Gate and Road, Summer Palace of Maharaja Ranjit Singh, Pul Kanjri, Sarai Khwaspur, Old Tehsil (Ajnala) at Amritsar

31° 38' 2'' N 74° 52' 20'' E

6.

Punjab

Ancient site, Commissioner's Residence at Jalandhar

31° 19' 34'' N 75° 34' 34'' E

7.

Punjab

Ancient site, Kos Minar (Khanna), Kos Minar (Sunnahwal/ Sanehwal), Mughal Sarai (Doraha), Sarai Lakshari Khan at  Ludhiana

30° 54' 3'' N 75° 51' 26'' E

8.

Punjab

Attari

31° 35’26”N 74° 26’08”E

9.

Punjab

Site and Kos Minar at Rajgarh

30° 24’21”N 76° 43’57”E

10.

Punjab

Gateway of the Old Sarai – Akbar or Jahangir on the Old Delhi Lahore Road (Amanat Khan), 3 nos. Kos Minars (Bharowal, Norangabad) Tarn Taran

31° 26' 57'' N 74° 55' 14'' E

11.

Punjab

Ancient site, Gateway of the Old Sarai – Akbar or Jahangir on the Old Delhi Lahore Road and Mosque at Fatehabad

31° 22' 44'' N 75° 05' 57'' E

12.

Punjab

Kos Minars on Old Badshahi Highway from Delhi to Lahore (Bir Pind), Mughal Bridge and Sarai including Gateway (Dakhni), Tomb of Muhammad Momin and Haji Jamal, Nakodar

31° 06' 34'' N 75° 31' 11'' E

13.

Punjab

Sarai including Gateway, Kos Minars on Old Badshahi Highway from Delhi to Lahore , (Chima Kalan) Nurmahal

31° 14' 16'' N 74° 48' 25'' E

14.

Punjab

Theh Gatti Mound (Nagar) and Ancient Mound (Katpalon), Phillaur Fort at Phillaur

31° 00' 47'' N 75° 47' 22'' E

15.

Punjab

Hadira – Sultanpur Lodhi, Moorish Mosque and Gol Kothi at Kapurthala

31° 22' 48'' N 75° 22' 48'' E

16.

Punjab

Aam Khas Bagh, Mosque Bhagat Sadna Kasai,  Jahaji Haveli (Todar Mal) at Sirhind

30° 36' 58'' N 76° 22' 52'' E

17.

Punjab

Tomb of Ustad, Talania, Tomb of Shagird (Talani), Tomb of Amir Ali, (Dera Meer Mian), Fatehgarh Sahib

30° 38' 53'' N 76° 23' 23'' E

18.

Punjab

Kos Minar, Naushera, Gurdaspur

32° 02' 00'' N 75° 24' 00'' E

19.

Punjab

Mughal Sarai, Sambhu, Patiala

30° 20' 24'' N 76° 22' 48'' E

20.

Haryana

Buddhist Stupa at Chaneti, Yamunanagar

30° 10' 04'' N 77° 20' 21'' E

21.

Haryana

Ancient site at Sirsa

29° 32' 01'' N 75° 01' 04'' E

22.

Haryana

Ancient site at Agroha

29° 19' 50'' N 75° 37' 59'' E

23.

Haryana

Ancient site at Hansi

29° 06' 00'' N 75° 58' 12'' E

24.

Haryana

Ancient site at Rohtak

28° 53' 27'' N 76° 34' 47'' E

25.

Haryana

Ancient site at Pehowa

29° 58' 48'' N 76° 34' 48'' E

26.

Haryana

Ancient site, Kos Minar and Cantonment at Ambala

30° 22' 41'' N 76° 46' 36'' E

27.

Haryana

Ancient site at Topra

30° 07' 31'' N 77° 09' 45'' E

28.

Haryana

Ancient site at Sugh

30° 08' 32'' N 77° 21' 18'' E

29.

Haryana

Kosminar, Faridabad- 16 nos.

28° 24' 32'' N 77° 19' 04'' E

31.

Haryana

Gateway of Old Mughal Sarai (Gharaunda), Mughal bridge, 9 nos. Kos Minars, Cantonment Church Tower and European Soldier’s Grave at Karnal

29° 41' 09'' N 76° 59' 26'' E

32.

Haryana

Thanesar Sarai

28° 58’36” N 76°49'41"E

33.

Haryana

Kosminar, Kurukshetra- 9 nos.

29° 58' 10'' N 76° 52' 42'' E

34.

Haryana

Kosminar, Panipat- 6 nos.

29° 23' 27'' N 76° 57' 49'' E

35.

Uttarakhand

Ancient site at Kalsi

30° 31' 04'' N 77° 50' 38'' E

36.

Uttarakhand

Ancient site at Rishikesh

30° 5' 13'' N 78° 16' 03'' E

37.

Uttarakhand

Ancient site at Haridwar

29° 56' 45'' N 78° 09' 51'' E

38.

Uttarakhand

Ancient site at Kashipur

29° 12' 38'' N 78° 57' 43'' E

39.

Delhi

Ashokan Pillars (Ferozabad, Ridge near Hindu Rao Hospital) and Rock edicts (Delhi-Topra, East of Kailash) in Delhi

28° 38' 17'' N 77° 14' 34'' E

40.

Delhi

Red Fort

28° 39' 22'' N 77° 14' 28'' E

41.

Delhi

Purana Quila, Humayun’s Tomb, Sher shah's gate with the adjoinining curon walls and Bastions and the remains of the double line of structure to its front, opposite Puran Qila

28° 36' 35'' N 77° 14' 38'' E

42.

Delhi

The Moti Gate of Sher Shah Suri and Kos Minar (Babarpur Bazipur/Kakanagar)

28° 41' 16'' N 77° 16' 50'' E

43.

Delhi

Gateways and enclosure of Badarpur Sarai, 2 nos. Kos Minars at Badarpur

28° 30' 14'' N 77° 18' 07'' E

44.

Delhi

Kosminar at Village Kotla Mahigiran

28° 32' 15'' N 77° 15' 35'' E

45.

Rajasthan

Ancient site at (Bairat) Viratnagar

27° 26' 60'' N 76° 10' 48'' E

46.

Uttar Pradesh

Ancient site at Moradhwaj (Bijnaur)

26° 44' 34'' N 80° 54' 05'' E

47.

Uttar Pradesh

Ashokan Pillar at Kosambi and Allahabad

25° 26' 09'' N 81° 50' 47'' E

48.

Uttar Pradesh

Ancient site at Mathura

27° 29' 33'' N 77° 40' 25'' E

49.

Uttar Pradesh

Ancient site at Agra

27° 10' 36'' N 78° 0' 29'' E

50.

Uttar Pradesh

Ancient site at Bateshwar

26° 56' 06'' N 78° 32' 31'' E

51.

Uttar Pradesh

Ancient site at Chakranagar

28° 5' 28'' N 77° 59' 31'' E

52.

Uttar Pradesh

Ancient site at Kalpi

26° 7' 12'' N 79° 43' 48'' E

53.

Uttar Pradesh

Ancient site at Musanagar

26° 10' 02'' N 79° 58' 6'' E

54.

Uttar Pradesh

Ancient site at Jajmau

27° 7' 15'' N 80° 30' 43'' E

55.

Uttar Pradesh

Ancient site at Kaushambi

25° 21' 40'' N 81° 24' 11'' E

56.

Uttar Pradesh

Ancient site at Jhusi

25° 25' 48'' N 81° 55' 48'' E

57.

Uttar Pradesh

Ancient site at Lakshagriha

29° 06′ 54”N 77° 25′ 43”E

58.

Uttar Pradesh

Pillar Inscription at Sarnath, near Varanasi

25° 22' 34'' N 83° 1' 22'' E

59.

Uttar Pradesh

Ancient site at Ahraura

25° 01' 12'' N 83° 01' 12'' E

60.

Uttar Pradesh

Ancient site at Latif Shah

25° 01' 16'' N 83° 14' 29'' E

61.

Uttar Pradesh

Ancient site at Ratan Pura, Mau

25° 56' 20'' N 83° 44' 19'' E

62.

Uttar Pradesh

Ancient site at Hastinapur

29° 10' 12'' N 78° 01' 12'' E

63.

Uttar Pradesh

Ancient site at Meerut

28° 59' 04'' N 77° 42' 23'' E

64.

Uttar Pradesh

Ancient site at Lakhimpur/Lakhmapur

27° 56' 60'' N 80° 46' 12'' E

65.

Uttar Pradesh

Ancient site at Ahichchatra

28°22'18"N   79°08'15"E

66.

Uttar Pradesh

Ancient site at Sravasti

27° 30' 13'' N 82° 02' 11'' E

67.

Uttar Pradesh

Ancient site at Ayodhya

26° 48' 00'' N 82° 12' 00'' E

68.

Uttar Pradesh

Ancient site at Lucknow

26° 48' 00” N 80° 54' 00'' E

69.

Uttar Pradesh

Ancient site at Kushinagar

26° 44' 24'' N 83° 53' 13'' E

70.

Uttar Pradesh

Buddhist Stupa at Pawa,

26°41'01"N   84°03'18"E

71.

Uttar Pradesh

Firozabad

27° 09' 33'' N 78° 23' 45'' E

72.

Uttar Pradesh

Agra Fort, 8 nos. Kos Minars on Agra - Fatehpur Sikri Road, Tomb of Salabat Khan, Itibari Khan's Mosque, Chauburji of the temporary Burial place of the emperor Babur, together with the Chabutra on which
it stands, Statute of Akbar's Horse on the Agra-Sikandara Road

27° 10' 36'' N 78° 00' 29'' E

73.

Uttar Pradesh

Akbar's Tomb, Sikandara

26° 22' 04'' N 79° 37' 45'' E

74.

Bihar

Ancient Buddhist sites at Bodh Gaya

24° 41' 46'' N 84° 59' 13'' E

75.

Bihar

Ashokan edicts at Lauriya- Nandangarh and Lauriya- Araraj

26°59′00″N  84°24′00″E

76.

Bihar

Minor Rock Edicts at Mahasthan

25° 05' 46'' N 85° 18' 47'' E

77.

Bihar

Minor Rock Edicts, Tomb of Sher Shah Suri,  Shergarh Fort , Tomb of Alabal Khan at Sasaram

24° 56' 57'' N 84° 01' 53'' E

78.

Bihar

Ashokan Pillar edicts at Vaishali, Bihar 

26° 00' 16'' N 85° 04' 50'' E

79.

Bihar

Ancient site at Champa/Bhagalpur

25° 15' 00'' N 87° 00' 00'' E

80.

Bihar

Ancient site at Rampurwa

26° 50' 41'' N 84° 41' 42'' E

81.

Bihar

Ancient site at Areraj

26° 33' 10'' N 84° 39' 58'' E

82.

Bihar

Ancient site at Rajgir

25° 01' 02'' N 85° 24' 58'' E

83.

Bihar

Ancient site at (Patliputra) Patna

25° 36' 40'' N 85° 08' 38'' E

84.

Bihar

Ancient site at Nalanda

25° 07' 27'' N 85° 27' 34'' E

85.

Bihar

Caves at Barabar

25° 00' 18'' N 85° 03' 47'' E

86.

Bihar

Tomb of Shamsher Khan and Fort of Daud Khan (Daudnagar), Aurangabad

24° 45' 00'' N 84° 22' 12'' E

87.

Bihar

Tomb of Hasan Shah Suri and Rohtasgarh fort,  Rohtas

24° 37' 44'' N 83° 55' 13'' E

88.

Jharkhand

Topchanchi Town

23° 53' 60'' N 86° 12' 00'' E

89.

West Bengal

Ancient site at Chandraketugarh

22° 41' 05'' N 88° 41' 13'' E

90.

West Bengal

Tamralipti or Tamluk

22° 18' 00'' N 87° 55' 12'' E

91.

West Bengal

Tomb of Baharam Sakka, Sher Afghan and Nawab Qutabuddin, Burdwan

23° 13' 57'' N 87° 51' 41'' E

92.

West Bengal

Badsahi or Hussain Shai mosque at Nutanhat

23° 32' 22'' N 87° 54' 10'' E

93.

West Bengal

Hussain Shah mosque at Kulutia

23° 46' 20'' N 87° 57' 51'' E



The Imperial Highway of the Indian Sub-continent, popularly known as the Grand Trunk[1] Road (or the GT Road) today, the name a legacy of the 19th – 20th Century CE British rule in the sub-continent, is one of Asia’s oldest and longest roads that connects the major countries of the Indian subcontinent, namely Afghanistan, Pakistan, India and Bangladesh, and to the regions beyond the North West Frontier. The connection has been known to exist since pre-historic ages. However, its construction, maintenance and use as one composite Highway is known to exist only during four political pre-independence Imperial rulerships in the sub-continent. The present road runs from Chittagong (Bangladesh) west of Howrah, West Bengal (India), running across the Gangetic plains of Northern India into Lahore (Pakistan), across the Hindu Kush range upto Kabul (Afghanistan).

The highway, with its array of connecting roads, has been important not just as a trade route but also as the path of military exploits of Central Asian invaders to the Indian sub-continent. The presence of such a connecting network enabled pedestrian and military movements on a large scale, allowed for significant exchange of trade and material, and had a profound effect on the cultural and political developments in the sub-continent.

The four names of the Highway and the political eras that mark periods when large parts of the sub-continent were united under a single dynastic rule and which is when it was possible to construct/reconstruct the road in its entirety, are as follows:

  1. As ‘Uttarapath’ during the Mauryan period (4th – 2nd Century BCE), from Balkh in Afghanistan to Tamraliptika or Tamluk in West Bengal, India
  2. As ‘Sadak-e-Azam’ or ‘Shah Rah-e-Azam’ (the Great Road) during the Sur dynasty (1540-1556 CE) from Kabul, Afghanistan to Sonargaon, Bangladesh
  3. As ‘Badshahi Sadak’ during the Mughal period (16th – 19th Century CE) from Kabul, Afghanistan to Sonargaon, Bangladesh
  4. As the ‘Long Walk’ or the ‘Grand Trunk Road’ during the British colonial rule (19th and 20th Century CE) from Kabul, Afghanistan to Chittagong, Bangladesh

However, it must be noted that individual segregated actions of the road were maintained during ancient and medieval times by the smaller kingdoms that emerged in northern India whenever a national imperial rule collapsed.

The road that existed for millennia before the British period was maintained as a non-metallic track with trees planted on either sides and dotted with structures associated with travel and rest. The highway was used both as a land route, especially from Afghanistan upto Delhi-Agra, and thence as a combination of land and water way since the route went along River Yamuna upto Allahabad and along River Ganga until it merged with the Bay of Bengal in Bangladesh. Today, its Indian section is divided into two Highways, National Highway 1 (link to the west to Delhi upto Attari, Punjab) and National Highway 2 (link to the east of Delhi upto Kolkata) and are maintained so by the National Highways Authority of India. Detailed description of the highway components is as follows:

1. As ‘Uttarapath’ during the Mauryan period (4th – 2nd Century BCE), from Balkh in Afghanistan to Tamraliptika or Tamluk in West Bengal, India

The remains of the Uttarapath (Uttara- meaning north and –path meaning route) are available in the form of Ashokan pillars, rock edicts and Buddhist archaeological remains (such as stupas) found in various locations along the highway right from Afghanistan upto Bangladesh. The Imperial Highway finds mention in many ancient texts and scriptures with the first known mention of Uttarapath made by Panini in his Asthadhyayi (around 500 BCE). The seventh Ashokan pillar refers to the royal road furnished with a chain of rest houses and wells at regular intervals connecting the Mauryan capital city of Patliputra (present day Patna) with Taxila. Presence of pre-historic earthenware and material culture also indicates the evolution of the northern grand route.

2. As ‘Sadak-e-Azam’ or ‘Shah Rah-e-Azam’ (the Great Road) during the Sur dynasty (1540-1556 CE) from Kabul, Afghanistan to Sonargaon, Bangladesh

The first tangible remains available of an integrated sub-continental highway belong to the Sur period. Its first ruler, Sher Shah Suri is popularly credited with the reconstruction of the highway. He laid out the track once again, plated trees along it and undertook construction of various structures associated with travel and intermediate rest – sarais, temples, mosques, gurudwaras, associated water bodies, kos minars et al.
The route crystallised as an important symbol for expressing the imperial sovereignty that was exhibited to a large extent by the monumental structures that were patronized along this route. The road was initially built by Sher Shah Sur to connect Agra, his capital, with Sasaram, his hometown. It was soon extended westward to Multan (now in Pakistan) and eastward to Sonargaon in Bengal (now in Bangladesh). Special importance was given to safety and well being of travellers which certainly had a positive influence on trade and trading activities on the route. Sarais that were built as architectural complexes were managed by state establishments and used both as dak-posts and resting places for travellers. The list of structures for this period is integrated with the remains from the Badshahi Sadak layer.

3. As ‘Badshahi Sadak’ during the Mughal period (16th – 19th Century CE) from Kabul, Afghanistan to Sonargaon, Bangladesh

Between 1555 A.D. and 1707 A.D., the Mughal dynasty is known to have achieved a remarkable level of political and administrative unity. The Mughals built upon and enhanced what was introduced in India by Sher Shah and further refined the use of the road as an ‘instrument of government.’ The physical characteristics of the road and its surroundings attest the conscious and ambitious road policy of the Mughals, most notably during the reigns of Akbar (A.D. 1556-1605) and Jahangir (A.D. 1605-1627). Jahangir ordered landlords in far off areas to construct sarais so that it could be a way of encouragement for people to come and settle close to the sarais. The Mughal rule saw a lot of development work along the royal highway carried out by the nobles of the period as well.

  • Kos minars (milestones constructed along the route at intervals of kos[2] that either represented 1.8 kms or 3.2 kms) at regular distance, are of significance as indicators of the route through the entire stretch of the Grand Trunk road. A total of 44 Kos minars proposed as part of this serial.
  • Forts were centres of political control in the region. They were of great significance as the place of decision making.
  • Sarai and Water Structures catered to the basic needs of the travelers along the route. They also served as place of informal exchange between travelers.
  • Gardens served for rejuvenation both for the travelers and local residents.
  • Mosques and Stupas were important religious centres. They helped the travelers maintain their religious association away from homeland.

Several factors determined the delineation of clusters in the proposal of this series:

  • Cohesive historic narratives in the past and current inter relationships;
  • Nature of cultural heritage, inter relationships between the various heritage structures of architectural and historical value and of intangible heritage due to past events, historic persons, current uses and associations etc;
  • Proximity to each other, scale, location and connectivity with large cities (as point to access by cultural tourists) and the Grand Trunk Road itself.
4. As the ‘Long Walk’ or the ‘Grand Trunk Road’ during the British colonial rule (19th and 20th Century CE) from Kabul, Afghanistan to Chittagong, Bangladesh

The Imperial Gazetteer of India compiled in the early nineteenth century stated that before the advent of the British rule, roadways in the modern sense did not exist in India. The stretch of Grand Trunk road between Ambala and Karnal was opened in 1856 and has been as a reason for the success of the British against the mutineers in Delhi. The experience convinced the British administrators that the improvement of the means of communications was a matter of “paramount necessity”. Today the road has been divided as National Highway 1 and 2 in India and continues to be an important route.



[1] The term ‘Trunk Road’ refers to a major road, usually connecting two or more cities, ports, airports and other places, which is the recommended route for long-distance and freight traffic. Thus, the meaning of Grand Trunk Road is evident as a majestic cross country road of India.

[2] A kos is approximately equal to 2.25 miles or 3.62 kms.

Justification of Outstanding Universal Value

The Imperial Highway connecting one end of the continent to the other was not merely a way of communication or transportation. The Highway and its connecting roads together constitute cultural routes across a diversity of landscapes, terrains, urban centres and people. Though the Highway and its network was built for specific purposes by different rulers over a long period of history these have become sites where heritage values and cultural properties associated to it were generated. A variety of cultural properties — kos minars, forts, sarais, tombs, gardens, water-structures, mosques and stupas were built along the route, which form a part of this serial.

The road is a connector, a bridge, a continuous thread that weaves the different terrains, cultures and people of the sub continent together. As the road network has been the means for people to have come into this region and which then has affected the coming together of diverse cultural influences. The transmission of knowledge into and through the region has also led to the creation of its unique cultural identity (as a melting pot of traditions). The Imperial Highway has contributed significantly in shaping of civilizations - a road that runs for more than 3000 kilometers from one end of the Indian Subcontinent to the other, while passing through mountainous rugged terrain, river valleys, doabs and river plains. This route has also been witness to several generations of conquerors and invaders into India. It is through this route that historical personalities such as Darius, the great Persian kings, Alexander the Great, Mauryans, Kushans, Genghis Khan, Timur, Babur and many others crossed into the Indian subcontinent.

Criterion (ii): The monumental remains along this cultural route represent/ exhibit the evolution and innovative genius influenced from Central Asia and stylised to form a unique regional architectural style. These influences can be noted in architectural planning, choice of material, construction methods, decorative styles and techniques.

The material remains from medieval period such as sarais, kos minars, baolis , gardens and tomb represent indigenous expression of conventional Turkish, Persian and European construction and ornamentation skills such as arcuate style, kashigari (tile works), pietra dura, nakkashi and stucco. This validates the advancement in building techniques, machinery and convergence of foreign and indigenous knowledge system.

Criterion (iv): The Imperial Highway is an outstanding example of engineering that has been around for millennia and illustrates some of the very significant stages of Indian sub-continent’s history, especially the Mauryan and the Sur periods for which there are not many other remains available.

Criterion (vi): The principle sites along the Imperial Highway present to us exemplar pertaining to Criteria vi (given above). The syncretic living traditions that have emerged along it from the Bhakti and Sufi inter-religious conversation can be noted embedded deeply in the sites along the route. These influences have travelled to the region through the Imperial Highway bringing along with it the Sufi traditions from Central Asia and Bhakti ideologies from South and Central India. This is not only visible in the principle sites but also in their ‘zone of influence’.
There are three elements of this tradition that are discernible and have become synonym to this region. First element is the idea of celebrating diversity thereby making space for people from all walks of life to participate in creating the fabric of a mutually enriching everyday life. This is clearly visible from the high associational connect that the areas along the Imperial Highway witnesses with respect to Bhakti and Sufi poets & saints between 13th and 18th Century. The two traditions are as a result of amalgamation of the mainstream Hinduism and Islam.
Second element is the work of crafts that weave and interlace different social and cultural values. These can be seen throughout the length of the road in works of calligraphy, miniature art, architecture, weaving, jewellery making, utensil and weapon making, and other associated crafts with the religious fabric of the society. The influx of ideas and influences in the area has been so high that it has also translated onto the representation of art and craft form in the area under consideration.

Along with the crafts a number of fairs, festivals, melas and other forms of public gatherings that were recorded showcase the living memory of many associated personalities, in most cases poets, sufis or saints and singers. The oral traditions have been instrumental in bringing down from one generation to the other stories, tales, and life activities of many revered personalities of the regions.

The third and the most significant element of this tradition is the idea of the city. Whether the settlements came first or the road is something that cannot be ascertained. But there is no doubts that both have a strong inter –relation. The opulence of a road depends on the nature of cities and settlement that is passes through whereas the growth and development of the city /settlement depends on the kind of roads that traverse through it. Commerce has been an important reason for the development of many cities/ settlements along the road. Additionally religion is the other important factor that can be noted as the rationale for the growth of urban areas.

In addition, the route has witnessed a long and continuous existence, moreover the large sections of the present road traverse on the original course of the road with only a few re-alignments, thereby keeping its authenticity intact to a large extent.  Furthermore the integrity of the road provides for ample exemplars to validate the authenticity of the road as well as sites that render continuity of architectural styles, traditional knowledge systems and oral traditions. 

Statements of authenticity and/or integrity

The route has witnessed a long and continuous existence. Moreover the large sections of the present road traverse on the original course of the road with only a few re-alignments, thereby keeping its authenticity intact to a large extent.  Furthermore the integrity of the road provides for ample exemplars to validate the authenticity of the road as well as sites that render continuity of architectural styles, traditional knowledge systems and oral traditions.

Authenticity: The authenticity of this cultural route is attributed to its continued usage as a principal connector between important imperial cities/ settlements during different periods of history. The route has been fully functional since the ancient period of Indian history leading to the cultural evolution of the northern belt of the Indian sub continent. It has been instrumental in the growth and uninterrupted advancement of major social, cultural and political centres such as Lahore, Amritsar, Sirhind, Delhi, Agra, Varanasi, Calcutta to name a few. 

The material authenticity of the route lies in the built heritage of the Mughal period buildings associated with travel such as sarais, kosminars, bridges and water structures that continue to bear the testimony of time.

Integrity: The integrity of this route is demonstrated by the continuous existence of this route as one of the most vibrant routes in the region. Regardless of the functioning of the other routes that it connects to, this cultural route has been able to thrive with its distinctive cultural identity, while several other historic routes in the region have ceased to exist.

The cultural heritage properties associated with Mughal period travel that exist along this route are the key elements that characterize the route. In the Indian section of the road it can be noted that the intactness, quantity and diversity of its extant remains exemplify imperial route architecture of the region. Though this region has witnessed loss of material remains, however remaining vestiges provide a holistic understanding of evolution of architecture related to travel in this region. 

Comparison with other similar properties

The property is comparable to the following properties:

  1. Route of Santiago de Compostela, Spain (World Heritage Site) Criteria (ii) (iv) (vi)
  2. Trading Posts and Fortifications on Genoese Trade Routes. From the Mediterranean to the Black Sea, Ukraine (Tentative List) Criteria (ii) (iv)
  3. The Northern or Primitive Route (extension of the Route of Santiago de Compostella) (Tentative List) Criteria (ii) (iv) (vi)
  4. Seruwila to Sri Pada (Sacred Foot Print Shrine), Ancient pilgrim route along the Mahaweli river in Sri Lanka (Tentative List) Criteria (ii) (iii) (vi)
  5. The Central Slave and Ivory Trade Route, United Republic of Tanzania (Tentative List) Criteria: not identified
  6. Chinese Section of the Silk Route, China (Tentative List) Criteria: (i) (ii) (iii) (iv) (v) (vi)

In comparison to the above mentioned routes the exceptional characteristic features of the Imperial Highway can be identified as below:

  1. It is the only important route that has survived over a very long period of history. It is and has been fully functional since the ancient times till date.
  2. It is a unique road that on one end it connects to a sea route of immense significance and the other end it connects to an extremely significant land route (Silk Route). This road thereby enabled trade and cultural transmission between civilizations. The eastern end of the road meets the sea at the Bay of Bengal and on the western end it terminates in Afghanistan at Kabul. This link is significant for determining the character of the road as it has been instrumental in the inward and outward movement of people, thoughts and material.
  3. Unlike most of the routes, this route was not used for single purpose such as pilgrimage, trade or slavery. However, it was used for multiple purposes like extending political influence, pilgrimage, exchange of culture, religion, trade, etc.