Historically, a significant portion of travel was through the land ports. The ancient silk route from China to Europe and south Asia resulted in many land ports along the northern border of India. As parts of Pakistan too were under Indian kingdoms historically, it is important to suggest their names as well.

The historic Gandhara region of India has prospered owing to trade between Indian kingdoms and Chinese kingdoms. Taxila and Peshawar were important centres of land port in ancient India. Taxila was important for trade with China, while Peshawar was important for that with erstwhile Afghans. Both continued to flourish in the ancient and middle ages and even today Peshawar is an important city of north-west Pakistan. Taxila was important historically for spreading Buddhism to China and other parts of east Asia, which is evident from the records of early Chinese travellers like Hiuen Tsang and Fa Hien.

Both the Indian and Pakistani parts of Kashmir were important trade hubs in ancient times. Srinagar was an important trade hub with China, and Central Asia during major parts of history. Far north, Gilgit served and even today is serving as a major crossroad trade between south, central and east Asia. Leh, for its part, played an important role in trade and cultural exchanges between Tibet region of China and Ladakh region of India.

Sikkim and north Bengal was the next important region to be benefitted by the Silk Route. The Nathu La and Jelep La passes open up trade routes between Siliguri and Kalimpong towns to Lhasa, the capital of Tibet region. Tawang and Bomdila of Arunachal Pradesh too formed important land ports with the historical Tibet region, preserving the local culture and boosting the economy.

These historic land ports, with the exception of Gilgit, no longer have that importance as they had during pre-independent India. Partition, as well as subsequent India-China war. Though some of them, like Peshawar and Srinagar have grown up to be big cities, with rich culture from the past connections, trade and connectivity with other countries is mostly absent. However, some landports like Siliguri and Kalimpong may again become functional with the opening of the Nathu La pass. Siliguri is still an important land port today at the Bangladesh border.

Present day land ports are with Nepal, Bhutan and Bangladesh. These serve as the border cities between India and its neighbours. The major land ports of India at the Nepal border are Forbesganj, Raxaul, Jainagar, and Nautanwa and Nanpara. Bhutan has only one major land port at Hasimara. Bangladesh has the longest border with India, and also the highest number of transit points. Bangaon, Malda, Raiganj, Siliguri in West Bengal, Dhubri, Karimganj in Assam, Agartala, Sabroom in Tripura are major land ports of India along the Bangladesh border.

Landlocked countries like Nepal and Bhutan are immensely benefited from the land ports with India. Trade and travellers from Bangladesh have received a major boost in eastern parts of the country owing to the land ports. Bangladesh also has several rail connections with India, some of them operational, which has helped these land ports to develop and heighten the cultural ties between the two countries.

Most of us have come across airports and seaports. Few of us have heard about land ports, many of which exist in India also. However, land ports are most important in trade and commerce as well as cultural exchanges in neighbouring countries.

Historically, a significant portion of travel was through the land ports. The ancient silk route from China to Europe and south Asia resulted in many land ports along the northern border of India. As parts of Pakistan too were under Indian kingdoms historically, it is important to suggest their names as well.

The historic Gandhara region of India has prospered owing to trade between Indian kingdoms and Chinese kingdoms. Taxila and Peshawar were important centres of land port in ancient India. Taxila was important for trade with China, while Peshawar was important for that with erstwhile Afghans. Both continued to flourish in the ancient and middle ages and even today Peshawar is an important city of north-west Pakistan. Taxila was important historically for spreading Buddhism to China and other parts of east Asia, which is evident from the records of early Chinese travellers like Hiuen Tsang and Fa Hien.

Both the Indian and Pakistani parts of Kashmir were important trade hubs in ancient times. Srinagar was an important trade hub with China, and Central Asia during major parts of history. Far north, Gilgit served and even today is serving as a major crossroad trade between south, central and east Asia. Leh, for its part, played an important role in trade and cultural exchanges between Tibet region of China and Ladakh region of India.

Sikkim and north Bengal was the next important region to be benefitted by the Silk Route. The Nathu La and Jelep La passes open up trade routes between Siliguri and Kalimpong towns to Lhasa, the capital of Tibet region. Tawang and Bomdila of Arunachal Pradesh too formed important land ports with the historical Tibet region, preserving the local culture and boosting the economy.

These historic land ports, with the exception of Gilgit, no longer have that importance as they had during pre-independent India. Partition, as well as subsequent India-China war. Though some of them, like Peshawar and Srinagar have grown up to be big cities, with rich culture from the past connections, trade and connectivity with other countries is mostly absent. However, some landports like Siliguri and Kalimpong may again become functional with the opening of the Nathu La pass. Siliguri is still an important land port today at the Bangladesh border.

Present day land ports are with Nepal, Bhutan and Bangladesh. These serve as the border cities between India and its neighbours. The major land ports of India at the Nepal border are Forbesganj, Raxaul, Jainagar, and Nautanwa and Nanpara. Bhutan has only one major land port at Hasimara. Bangladesh has the longest border with India, and also the highest number of transit points. Bangaon, Malda, Raiganj, Siliguri in West Bengal, Dhubri, Karimganj in Assam, Agartala, Sabroom in Tripura are major land ports of India along the Bangladesh border.

Landlocked countries like Nepal and Bhutan are immensely benefited from the land ports with India. Trade and travellers from Bangladesh have received a major boost in eastern parts of the country owing to the land ports. Bangladesh also has several rail connections with India, some of them operational, which has helped these land ports to develop and heighten the cultural ties between the two countries.

Written by – Himadri Paul