The Grand Trunk Road is one of India’s oldest, longest and most important highways. Here’s how Rudyard Kipling described it in his novel Kim:
“Look! Brahmins and chumars, bankers and tinkers, barbers and bunnias, pilgrims -and potters – all the world going and coming. It is to me as a river from which I am withdrawn like a log after a flood. And truly the Grand Trunk Road is a wonderful spectacle. It runs straight, bearing without crowding India’s traffic for fifteen hundred miles – such a river of life as nowhere else exists in the world.”
Winding 2,500 kilometers from Bangladesh, through India and into Pakistan, the road passes a variety of interesting destinations of cultural, historic and religious significance, including the Taj Mahal and the city of Varanasi, where Hindi pilgrims come to die beside the holy Ganges river and to have their ashes scattered in the water.
You can drive the Grand Trunk Road yourself, hire a car and driver, book a tour, or even cycle it. However, driving/cycling on the Grand Trunk Road is not for the faint of heart. World Hum travel writer Jeffery Tayler, who cycled the road in 2009, observed that “For these drivers, cows alone were sacred.”
To travel the Indian portion of the Grand Trunk road, you will need an Indian visa. To get one, you need the following documents:
- Your US passport
- 2 recent passport-sized photos, taken within the past 6 months. If you wear glasses, take them off for the photos.
- A completed Indian visa application form. Write legibly and proofread the application carefully before you turn it in. Write“tourism” in the section that asks you to state why you are traveling to India.
- A copy of your plane tickets or your itinerary.
- India has a jurisdictional visa system, which means that each embassy handles applications for a different part of the US, and you must submit your Indian visa application to the embassy or consulate that serves your home address. So, you must also include a legible copy of your driver’s license or a utility bill showing your name and address.
- A copy of your birth certificate