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A journey to remember

1st EXPRESSWAY With its first phase opening to traffic on May 1, 2000, the Mumbai-Pune or Yashwantrao Chavan Expressway was the first six-lane access-control expressway in India. At present, India has 648. 36 km of highways that are categorised as expressways.

With special officials to maintain it and signposts and milestones to help travellers, Chandragupta Maurya built the Grand Trunk Road in the 3rd century BCE. Accounts by Megasthenes, a Greek ethnographer and ambassador to Maurya's court, say the road connected Taxila (in present-day Pakistan), to Pataliputra (today's Patna), the capital of the Mauryan empire. Later, 16th century Afghan ruler Sher Shah Suri upgraded the road. The Mughals extended it and, finally, the British improved it and christened it the Grand Trunk Road.

The world's first official airmail took off when French pilot Henri Pequet transported 6, 500 letters and postcards from Allahabad to Naini, a distance of about 10 km, on February 18, 1911. There were 15 kg of mail for the kings of England, Italy and Belgium, the queen of Holland and other notables. Flying at about 60 kmph, Pequet covered the distance in less than half and hour. Letters were then dispatched by land and sea.

British railway companies started experimenting with cooling train coaches in the 1860s. The first extensive cooling system was introduced in the Frontier Mail in 1934. Large blocks of ice were placed beneath the compartment and a batteryoperated fan blew the air into the insulated coach through vents. The ice was replenished at major halts. The first fully air-conditioned train was introduced between Howrah and Delhi in 1956.

1st DOCK
The dock at Lothal, one of the main cities of the Indus Valley civilisation, was built around 2400 BCE on the Sabarmati (it has since changed course). It was an engineering marvel, say modern-day experts, because the builders obviously had deep knowledge of hydrology and figured out how to use the high tides of the Gulf of Khambhat to their advantage. The dock served as a vital link between India and Egypt and Mesopotamia.

Reader's opinion (4)

Dhruv BhandulaMar 13th, 2011 at 11:50 AM

Its amazing to know that the grand trunk road that I so frequently use is around for such a long time.

Sheel Bhadra SinhaDec 16th, 2010 at 10:01 AM

Popular conception and myth is that it was Sher Shah Suri who built it!!

Raghavan SrinivasanOct 31st, 2010 at 17:08 PM

Very less and grossly inadequate...India has 648. 36 km of expressways.

Prem SahuOct 12th, 2010 at 15:00 PM

It is one amazing experience when you drive down the Mumbai Pune expressway. We, my wife and our daughter, did it in 2007 April in our Alto travelling from Rajkot to Bangalore. the only problem we had was of food joints.

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