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Himalaya

Day 1: Up the Khyber

Pakistan 
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At the Khyber Pass. The Grand Trunk Road (to the right) winds into Afghanistan.
Michael Palin - HimalayaThe British later paved it and christened it the Grand Trunk Road. Abbreviated to the colloquial 'GT Road', it remains to this day one of the most important transport arteries on the subcontinent.

Railways, rather than roads, were the status symbols of Britain's empire, and it was inevitable that there would eventually have to be a railway up to the Khyber. Construction began in the 1920s, amply fulfilling the criteria for a colonial railway, being both expensive and difficult to build.

At the cost of some 100,000 a mile, a line was squeezed for 27 miles through the rocky foothills between Peshawar and the Afghan border, an impressive burrowing job requiring 34 tunnels and 92 bridges and cuttings.

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PALIN'S GUIDES

  • Series: Himalaya
  • Chapter: Day 1: Up the Khyber
  • Country/sea: Pakistan
  • Place: Khyber Pass
  • Book page no: 12

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