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Road To London – Drive on the Ancient Silk Road

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ourth time’s the charm! Yes, you heard it right; we are all set to embark upon yet another epic road trip to London come April, 2020.

Crossing 18 countries, covering a distance of 16,000 km in 52 days from India to London via road, promises to be one heady experience. And with Adventures Overland leading from the front, you can expect nothing but unspoilt fun as you cruise upon the asphalt in your very own 4×4.

One key attraction along this route which participants get to traverse through in self-driven set of wheels is the ancient Silk Road.

As vintage as it can get

A network of trade routes, formally established during the Han Dynasty of China around 2nd century BCE, the Silk Road primarily refers to the overland roads connecting East Asia and Southeast Asia with South Asia, Persia, the Arabian Peninsula, East Africa and Southern Europe.

Here are some fascinating facts about this UNESCO World Heritage Site:

  • Beginning in Xi’an / Luoyang in China, coursing through Central Asia, and to Constantinople on the eastern edge of Europe, the Silk Road covered about 4,000 miles [over 6,000 km] in its heyday.
  • This antique network of commercial routes derived its name from one of the most prominent products traded along its length – Chinese silk. Considered as valuable as gold during those days, people throughout Asia and Europe desired Chinese silk for its incomparable softness and luxuriant sheen.
  • Apart from silk, the Chinese also exported teas, salt, sugar, porcelain, and spices amongst other things. The Europeans, meanwhile, brought animals, wool, precious metals and stones [gold, silver and ivory], textiles and coloured glassware into China.
  • Merchants usually travelled along the Silk Road in heavily guarded groups of caravans, as the threat of bandits loomed large.
  • The most famous person to travel the Silk Road was legendary explorer, Marco Polo. He was also the first European to document his experience of traveling around mystical China.
  • Apart from valuable goods, the Silk Road also became a pathway for exchange of cultural influences. It’s widely accepted that Buddhism made its foray into China courtesy of the Silk Road.
  • Not everything that made its way between the continents connected by the Silk Road was good. For instance, popular belief states that the deadly Bubonic Plague [a.k.a Black Death] travelled to Europe via some of these trade routes.
  • Though hosting many striking cities along its path, one of the most impressive and gorgeous cities that lay on the Silk Road was Samarkand. The jewel of Uzbekistan, Samarkand served as the epicentre for many Chinese routes that converged here before heading towards Europe.
  • Paper, which is one of ‘Ancient China’s Four Greatest Inventions’ [the other three being gunpowder, printing press and the compass] was brought into Eurasia courtesy of the Silk Road network. Developed during the Han era, the technology to produce paper transformed the publishing industry and greatly affected the distribution of information across Europe and rest of the world.
  • The term Silk Road was only coined as late as the year 1877 by German geographer Ferdinand van Richthofen, who had undertaken as many as seven expeditions to China from 1868 to 1872.

From commercial trading to exchange of vital inventions, novel ideas and religious as well as cultural influences – the impact of the Silk Road upon the world, as we know it today, has been indeed unparalleled.

An opportunity to visit any part of this monumental site is something that no avid traveller should let slide. So, come and join us on our 4th edition of Road to London to revel in the Silk Road’s vintage glory as part of a journey that promises to be supremely convenient and exhilarating.

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