The Kos Minars (Persian: کوس مینار) (Translated: Mile Pillars) are medieval milestones along the Grand Trunk Road in northern Bangladesh, India, and Pakistan, that were made by the 16th-century Pashtun Ruler Sher Shah Suri. Kos Minars were erected to serve as markers of distance along royal routes from Agra to Ajmer, Agra to Lahore, and from Agra to Mandu in the south.
Kos, one fourth of a Yojana, is an ancient Indian unit of distance. It can represent either a distance of approximately 1.8 kilometres (1.1 mi) or 3.2 kilometres (2.0 mi). Minar is a Persian word for tower. Abul Fazl recorded in Akbar Nama that in the year 1575 AD, Akbar issued an order that at every Kos on the way from Agra to Ajmer, a pillar or a minar should be erected for the comfort of the travelers.
Apart from these, many caravanserais (roadside inns) were also built for the tired and weary travelers.
Kos Minars are solid round pillars, around 30 feet (9.1 m) in height that stands on a masonry platform built with bricks and plastered over with lime. They were not built in a standardized style. Being milestones, they were an important part of communication and travel in a large empire.
Kos Minars became an institution during the rule of the Mughals that Emperor Jahangir and Shah Jahan,following in their predecessors footsteps added to the existing network of Kos Minars. In the north they were extended as far as Peshawar and in the east to Bengal via Kannauj. The geographic span makes for nearly three thousand kilometers of Mughal highways, accounting for nearly 1000 Kos Minars, i.e., 1 every Kos or 3 kilometres (1.9 mi). There is no record as to how many of them have survived.
Over the years these road monuments have gone into a state of disrepair and are almost lost in obscurity. Along India's old highways, particularly the Grand Trunk Road, one still finds Kos Minar.
According to a report of the Archaeology Survey of India, there are 49 Kos Minars in Haryana. There are also five kos minars around Ludhiana city. Of late some of these Minars have been restored and attempts for preserving many others are ongoing.
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