Transportation in ancient Bengal

The fact that many of the words for raft or boat (bhela, diGga etc.) are of proto-Australoid origin, along with the very common mention and use as metaphor or simile of boats, its parts, and sea trade in literature, and the prevalence of koD.i (kabaD.I) and boD.i as currency, points to early and close association of Bengalis with the water ways. It is possible that some women of lower caste (e.g. dombI) would work as boatmen.

On land, walking long distances was no doubt common, but the major means of long distance transport was the bullock cart. No mention of buffalos to pull carts is found, though. The form of the bullock carts were the same in ancient India, as in modern India: even in the ancient culture on the banks of Sarasvati-Ghagra river systems in west India (c. 2500–1750 BC), bullock carts are common toys. It seems that bullock carts were used in marriage processions.

Elephants as means of transport and war are also mentioned in descriptions of eastern India from a very early period (the descriptions in the mahAbhArata, for example, state that the king of vaGga had a large number of war elephants); in fact, elephant, its habits, and methods of training it is a very common simile or metaphor in early bengali literature: showing the great familiarity with this animal in common society. Elephant medicine is supposed to be an early achievement in Bengal.

According to the greek descriptions, the prAcya and gaGgA kingdoms had chariots drawn by four horses. Covered chairs with ivory handles lifted and carried by people (pAlkI) was also in use in this ancient period.

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