Some of the major routes into India are as follows:
India is separated from the rest of Asia by a broad no-man’s land of mountains, from the north, north-west and north-east. Most of the Himalayan ranges are either ice bound or covered by thick vegetation and offer an almost an impenetrable wall.
This makes India an intelligible isolate. However, there are a few passes which provide routes into India.
Three high passes viz. Muztagh (Snowy Mountain), the Karakoram and the Changchemo are all over 6,000 metres above sea level and offer little scope for interaction between the two sides of the mountain ranges. Some passes in the high Himalayas such as Burzil and Zojilla in Jammu and Kashmir; Bara Lacha La and Shipki La in Himachal Pradesh; Tahgla La, K-Lang, Niti and Lipu Lekh in Uttar Pradesh; Nathu La and Jelep La in Sikkim are used for crossing the main Himalayan range.
Towards the north-west, the frontier formed by the Himalayas is continued by the Karakoram Range and the Hindukush. Further south lie the Safed Koh, Sulaiman range and the Kirthar range, which separate India from Afghanistan and Baluchistan. Thus the real natural frontier of India lies far away from the present man-made and artificial frontier between India and Pakistan which is the creation of partition of the country in 1947.
The mountain ranges here become shallow and narrow down to less than 500 km between Turkestan and the Punjab (undivided) Plains. The Hindukush is pierced by numerous passes which are snow covered in winter but can easily be crossed in other seasons. There are a few passes which are less than 1,600 metres above sea level and offer easy access into India.
The passes of Khyber, Malakand, Tochi, Gomal and Kohat have their base in Badakhshan province of Afghanistan and provide passage from Afghanistan to the Indian subcontinent. Towards the south, the highways of Herat and Seistan converge at Quetta. It is worth noting that Quetta lies at the head of the Bolan Pass and provides one of the most significant gateways into the Indian sub-continent.
History reveals that the barrier was at no time an insuperable one, and at all periods, invaders, settlers and traders have found their way over the high and desolate passes into India, while Indians have carried their commerce and culture beyond her frontiers by the same routes.
India’s isolation has never been complete, and the effect of the mountain wall in developing her unique civilisation has been over emphasised. People after people, literally nations have pressed into the Indian sub-continent through these passes and changed the fate of various dynasties in India. Hordes of invaders have attacked and conquered India through these passes.
Perhaps the earliest immigrants of civilised man into India were the Dravidians about whom little evidence is available. It is believed that they migrated into India from the Tigris Valley along the Makran Coast of the present Pakistan. This was followed by many others in the pre-historic times, the most prominent being the Aryans who migrated by the Kabul approaches. Later in the historic times, several other people such as Greeks, Parsees, Huns, Mughals and Mohammadans entered India mostly through these passes.
Perhaps the earliest immigrants of civilised man into India were the Dravidians about whom little evidence is available. It is believed that they migrated into India from the Tigris Valley along the Makran Coast of the present Pakistan.
This was followed by many others in the pre-historic times, the most prominent being the Aryans who migrated by the Kabul approaches. Later in the historic times, several other people such as Greeks, Parsees, Huns, Mohammadans and Mughals entered India mostly through these passes.
In the east, the hills forming the boundary between India and Myanmar are comparatively low and rarely exceed 3,000 metres in elevation. But the dense forests, heavy rainfall for half the year, difficult terrain and a large number of swift flowing rivers have acted as effective barriers between the two countries.
The only passages are along the courses of rivers Brahmaputra, Mekong, Salween and Ayeyarwadi—the main gaps being the Ann, Teju, Manipur, Tulu, Tongap, etc. Therefore, not many foreigners have crossed through this frontier into India.
In fact, reaching Ayeyarwadi valley in Myanmar from India is much easier by sea than by land. The opening of new trade route in 1995 connecting More in Manipur with Tamu in Myanmar may help in developing trade and cultural relations between the two countries.
It is surprising that until the coming of European seamen, no considerable power was founded in India from the sea; but some were from India. Initiative to the east really came from India. Hindu traders and colonisers took their civilisation by sea to the south-east Asian countries. Buddhism originated in India and spread to the whole of eastern Asia. The Cholas had an empire in the East Indies. Several other Hindu cultural traits are still found in large parts of the Far East.