India lies to the south of Asia and is centrally located between East and West Asia. The Deccan Peninsula in the south of India protrudes to the south, extending the Indian boundary into the Indian Ocean.
India acts as a southward extension of the Asian continent and is very strategically located in the centre.
The trans-Indian Ocean routes connect it to:
- South-east and East Asian countries in the east
- African and European countries in the west.
India’s long coastline has added to its means of contact with the rest of the world through the sea route. India has a longer coastline than any other country in the Indian Ocean.
The land routes have been more popular than sea routes, and frequented by ancient travellers and traders.
The Silk Road passing through India is an extensive network of trade routes connecting the east, west and south of Asia to the Mediterranean world, including North Africa and Europe. The Silk Road was a significant factor in the development of great civilisations in China, India, Egypt, Persia, Arabia and Rome.
Traders have been using both the land and sea routes passing through India to exchange ideas as well as commodities:
- Ideas from epics like the Ramayana and the Mahabharata, and teachings of the Bhagvad Gita
- Commodities like spices and muslin
- Stories from the Panchatantra
- Mathematical basics, such as Indian numerals and the decimal system
The western world commonly refers to the Indian numeral system as the Hindu-Arabic numeral system, because it reached Europe through the Arabs. There was a huge western influence in Indian architecture as India adopted the architectural style of West Asia’s Greek sculptures.