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Roadways In India


The Indian Roadways play a crucial role in connecting the different parts of India. Over the years after independence there has been an extensive development of the network of roads across the length and breadth of India. Road network of India is the largest road networks(3.314 million kilometers ) in the world. India's road network consists of national highways, state highways, district roads and village roads. National Highways are found all over the country. They are indispensable as far as communication by roads is concerned. National highways connects States,states' capitals, big cities and ports. National highways carry approximately 40 % of the total traffic but they are only 2 % of the entire road network. Where as State Highways are considered as the main roads of the State. Major cities of the States and capital of the state are connected by state highways. While District roads are connecting with major roads and village roads. Village roads provide linkage to other roads in order to meet their daily needs and access to nearby markets.


Roadways in India have come a long way. Starting from the pugdandies (a small path created naturally due to frequent walks) of earlier times to the present-day Rajpath of Delhi ,the country has crossed many spheres of road travel. The 'thread that binds the nation together' is truly a deserving metaphor for a road network that is one of the largest in the world.

In the Atharva Veda, we find references to road construction and information on precautions to be taken. Kautilya's Arthasashtra mentioned about mechanism of roads for chariots and stresses upon the traffic rules and road safety. With the development of culture and trade, cities like Vaishali, Sravasti, Rajagriha, Kurukshetra, and Ujjaini had roads to facilitate socio-economic intermingling. Ujjaini, capital of Avanti, was an important trade center and connected with northern trunk routes to modern Bharuch, an important seaport.

Development of roads took a new turn during Mauryan rule in the 4th century. The administration constructed Rajpath (high roads) and Banikpaths (merchant roads). Megasthenes, the Greek traveler, wrote that the Mauryan Empire took a big stride to develop roads for communication. He recorded a Rajamarga or the king's highway, which was also a trade route and a precursor to the modern Grand Trunk Road. This tradition continued and Chandragupta's grandson, Ashoka, who was a great and compassionate ruler, strengthened the system immensely. At time of Mauryan's , roads played a key role in military operations to keep the vast country united.

Records reveal that during the Gupta era there was also a road connection with South India. There were three major routes-one was a connection with Northeast India via Didisa, the other connected to the seaport of the Western coast and the third connected to Pratisthana, the capital of Satvahana Empire. There are also evidences of a route facilitating trade with Iran and China.

The Mughal era was the golden era for roads. India was effectively connected to control the vast empire. With the advent of the British, a new awakening dawned upon India. The East India Company revived ancient routes and renovation was initiated. The technology of the West came into play and linkages were well established which provided the British the inroad to rule India for over two hundred years.

Roads also worked as inroads to the development of civilizations, and provided human beings a corridor of communication for venturing out to newer frontiers of achievements.

Present Scenario

Today, alternative modes of transport are on the anvil. Yet, amidst all this, Road transport is still the dominant mode of transportation - both for moving goods and passengers. India has a huge network of roads comprising of National Highways, State Highways, Major District Roads and Village and other roads . Out of total length of national highways , 27 % is single lane/intermediate lane; whereas 59 % is double-lane standard; and the rest 14 % is four-lane/ six-lane/ eight lane standard. The road network is assuming a pivotal role in the movement of goods and passengers. There has been a substantial shift in the mode of transportation from Railways towards the road sector. While the Railways handle only 40% of the freight and 20% of the passengers load, 60% of the goods and 80% of passenger's movement takes place through roads. It is anticipated that the function of the road network will further increase in the foreseeable future.

Here is the list of existing roadways in India with their respective length at present:-

National Highways 66,754 km
State Highways 1,28,000 km
District roads 4,70,000 km
village roads 26,50,000 km


Roads are the vital lifelines of the economy making possible trade and commerce.

Roads are most preferred modes of transportation and considered as one of the cost effective modes of transportation. Roads are easily accessible to each individual. Roads facilitate movement of both men and materials anywhere within a country. It helps in socio-economic development as well as brings national integration. It provides linkages to other modes of transportation like railways,airways, and shipping, etc. An efficient and well-established network of roads is desired for promoting trade and commerce in any country and also fulfills the needs of a sound transportation system for sustained economic development. Road transport is contributing 3.69% to GDP where as all transportation modes are contributing a total of 5.5% to GDP.

Maps of Important National Highways
Golden Quadrilateral
Golden Quadrilateral

Major National highways

Here is a list of major national highways:-

Name Source – Destination Length (in Kilometers)
NH 1 Delhi – Punjab 456
NH2 Delhi – Kolkata 1465
NH3 Mumbai – Agra 1161
NH4 Mumbai - Chennai 1235
NH17 Mumbai – Ernakulam 1296
NH47 Tamil Nadu – Kerala 650
NH 8 Mumbai – Delhi 1428
NH 31 Jharkhand – Assam 1125
NH 35 West Bengal – Indo Bangladesh Border 60
NH 65 Haryana – Rajasthan 690
NH 75 Madhya Pradesh – Orissa 1175
NH 76 Uttar Pradesh – Rajasthan 1007
NH150 Mizoram – Nagaland 700
NH153 Arunachal Pradesh – Indo-Myanmar border 60

List of important State Highways

Here is a list of important state highways:-
State Name Highway Name Length (in Kilometers)
West Bengal Jalda - Digha 407
Himachal Pradesh Shimla Tatapani Mandi 185.6
Kerala Hill Highway 1332.16
Bihar Dumaria – Rani Talab 165.4
Maharashtra Nagpur – Chandrapur 112
Tamil Nadu Cuddalore – Chittoor Road 225
Karnataka Bangalore - Yalandur 662
Haryana Highway No: 12 192.32
Madhya Pradesh Jaithpur – Nagpur (Maharashtra) 743
Rajasthan Jhalawar – Mathura 441.40
Uttar Pradesh UP SH 1A 229.55

Transportation in India