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Provincial Geographies of India/Volume 1/Chapter 12

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CHAPTER XII

ROADS AND RAILWAYS

Roads.— The alignment of good roads in the plains of the Panjab is easy, and the deposits of calcareous nodules or kankar often found near the surface furnish good metalling material. In the west the rainfall is so scanty and in many parts wheeled traffic so rare that it is often wise to leave the roads unmetalled. There are in the Panjab over 2000 miles of metalled, and above 20,000 miles of unmetalled roads. The greatest highway in the world, the Grand Trunk, which starts from Calcutta and ends at Peshawar, passes through the province from Delhi in the south-east to Attock in the extreme north-west corner, and there crosses the Indus and enters the N.W.F. Province. The greater part of the section from Karnal to Lahore had been completed some years before the Mutiny, that from Lahore to Peshawar was finished in 1863-64. A great loop road connects our arsenal at Ferozepore with the Grand Trunk Road at Lahore and Ludhiana. The fine metalled roads from Ambala to Kalka, and Kalka to Simla have lost much of their importance since the railway was brought to the hill capital. Beyond Simla the Kalka-Simla road is carried on for 150 miles to the Shipki Pass on the borders of Tibet, being maintained as a very excellent hill road adapted to mule carriage. A fine tonga road partly in the plains and partly in the hills joins Murree with Rawalpindi. From Murree it drops into the Jhelam valley crossing the river and entering Kashmir at Kohala. It is carried up the gorge of the Jhelam to Baramula and thence through the Kashmir valley to Srinagar. A motor-car can be driven all the way from Rawalpindi to Srinagar. In the N.W.F. Province a great metalled road connects Peshawar, Kohat, Bannu, and Dera Ismail Khan.

Fig. 43. Poplar lined road to Srinagar.

Railways. Main Lines.— It is just over fifty years since the first railway, a short line joining Lahore and Amritsar, was opened in 1862. Three years later Lahore was linked up with Multan and the small steamers which then plied on the Indus. Amritsar was connected with Delhi in 1870, and Lahore with Peshawar in 1883. The line from Peshawar to Lahore, and branching thence to Karachi and Delhi may be considered the Trunk Line. The railway service has been enormously developed in the past thirty years. In 1912 there were over 4000

miles of open lines. There are now three routes from Delhi to Lahore:

(a) The N.W. Railway via Meerut and Saharanpur (on east of Jamna), and Ambála, Ludhiána, Jalandhar, Amritsar;

(b) The Southern Panjáb Railway via Jínd, Rohtak, Bhatinda, and Ferozepore;

(c) The Delhi-Ambáa-Kálka branch of the East Indian Railway from Delhi through Karnál to Ambala, and thence by the N.W. Railway. This is the shortest route.

The Southern Panjáb Railway also connects Delhi with Karachi through its junction with the N.W. Railway at Samasata to the south of Baháwalpur. Another route is by a line passing through Rewári and the Merta junction Karáchí is the natural seaport of the central and western Panjáb. The S.P Railway now gives an easy connection with Ferozepore and Ludhiána, and the enormous export of wheat, cotton, etc. from the new canal colonies is carried by several lines which converge at Khanewál, a junction on the main line, a little north of Multán.

Railways. Minor Lines.—The Sind Ságar branch starting from Lála Musa between Lahore and Amritsar with smaller lines taking off further north at Golra and Campbellpur serves the part of the province lying north of the Salt Range. These lines converge at Kundian in the Mianáalí district, and a single line runs thence southwards to points on the Indus opposite Dera Ismail Khán and Dera Gáazi Khán, and turning eastwards rejoins the trunk line at Sher Sháh near Multán, There are a number of branch lines in the plains, some owned by native States. Strategically a very important one is that which crossing the Indus by the Khushálgarh bridge unites Rawalpindi with Kohát. The only hill railway is that from Kálka to Simla. A second is now under construction which, when completed, will connect Ráwalpindi with Srinagar. All these lines with the exception of the branch of the E.I. Railway mentioned above are worked by the staff of the N W. State Railway, whose manager controls inside and outside the Panjáb some 5000 miles of open line. The interest earned in 1912 was 4½ p.c, a good return when it is considered that the parts of the system to the north of the Salt Range and the Sind Ságar railway were built primarily for strategic reasons.