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A journey to remember
1st MAJOR ROAD
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.
1st AC COACHES
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.
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.
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