Days and Nights on the Grand Trunk Road

Days and Nights on the Grand Trunk Road

by Anthony Weller
     
 

Now published in paperback, this work re-creates the author's remarkable adventures on the ancient route that spans India and Pakistan. For more than 30 centuries, travelers have walked, ridden, prayed, fought, and died along the 1,500 miles of the Grand Trunk Road that stretches from Calcutta all the way to the Khyber Pass. Anthony Weller interweaves his own… See more details below

Overview

Now published in paperback, this work re-creates the author's remarkable adventures on the ancient route that spans India and Pakistan. For more than 30 centuries, travelers have walked, ridden, prayed, fought, and died along the 1,500 miles of the Grand Trunk Road that stretches from Calcutta all the way to the Khyber Pass. Anthony Weller interweaves his own journey with the history of the ancient route.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
The Grand Trunk Road slicing across the Indian subcontinent for 1500 miles from Calcutta to the Khyber Pass has been traversed by the likes of Alexander the Great, Kipling and Gandhi. Today, it's a truck route that cuts through Benares, Agra, Delhi, Lahore, Peshawar and a multitude of towns and mud villages. It's also one of the most dangerous roads in the world, according to the author, where tribal feuds and clashes between India and Pakistan are often played out. This is the road Weller (The Garden of the Peacocks) chose to travel, having, as he explains, time on his hands after he'd finished a novel and gigs for his guitar playing were scarce. His entertaining adventures on the road provide a vehicle for colorful evocations of the diverse landscapes and cultures through which the road threads, and they complement instructive histories, current political and economic reporting and perceptive profiles of the people he encounters. This is a rewarding journey for armchair travelers. (Oct.)
Kirkus Reviews
While the title is somewhat of a misnomer—since much of this ancient road cutting across India and Pakistan is too infested by bandits to travel after dark—make no mistake about the courage and intelligence behind this wryly observant travelogue.

"From what I'd witnessed, the future for most Indians looked like hell," writes novelist and travel writer Weller (The Garden of the Peacocks, 1996), and while this bleak prediction resonates throughout his account, one is equally impressed that India's explosive mixture of cultures and religions has not blown the lid off the world's largest democracy. Along this road, cut by conquerors from before Alexander, lie the birthplace of Buddhism, Jainism, and Hinduism, ornate but crumbling tombs—including the Taj Mahal ("that Moby Dick of architecture")—as well as the sites of great pilgrimages and human slaughter. Traveling this frequently crumbling artery, his hired drivers dodging careening trucks, Weller alights in the sacred Hindu city of Benares astride the Ganges, whose "stench is encyclopedic and hypnotic" and into whose waters are commited some 40,000 cremated bodies yearly. Up the road, Kanpur is the site of the 1857 massacre of 1,000 British men, women, and children that led Queen Victoria to formally annex India. Weller traces the paths of Kipling, perhaps the only writer of the time to look beneficently on the Indians during the Raj. Tireless, aside from a bronchial disorder caused by the poisonous air of New Delhi, Weller proceeds to the Punjab, home to the Sikhs, and passes into Pakistan, which, while lacking the liberties and the cultural freedom of its neighbor, is generally cleaner, with far fewer beggars and homeless people.

The last stage, up the forbidding Khyber Pass, in which dwell smugglers of all description, and through which he was required to hire an armed bodyguard, is perhaps the most exotic locale yet in an account brimming with beauty and strangeness.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781569247518
Publisher:
Da Capo Press
Publication date:
07/28/1997
Edition description:
1 ED
Pages:
383
Product dimensions:
6.37(w) x 9.28(h) x 1.36(d)

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Shashi Tharoor
Stimulating and keenly observed.

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