Routes in Hindu Period:

It seems quite probable from the early rock-cut remains at Ajanta, Patan (near Chalisgaon), Chandor and Nasik that the trade routes between north and south India passed through Khandesh as far back as the second and first centuries before Christ. The author of the. Periplus (247 A.D.) mentions that trade crossed Khandesh from Broach to Paithan. on the Godavari and to Tagara. [McCrindle's Periplus. 125-26. ] If the statement of the author of the Periplus that Tagara lay ten days to the east of Paithan is correct, the trade route from Broach probably passed eastwards through Khandesh, leaving the district, either near Patau or near Ajanta. The route was passable for goods traffic.

Routes during Muslim Period (1300-1760) :

The rich cave and temple remains at Ajanta, Patan, and Chandor seem to show that till the Musalman conquest (1300), the passes in the Satmala hills continued to be the highways of an important traffic. Under the early Musalmans, the route by the Barvan or Sukaldevi pass from Malwa to Khandesh rose to importance. In 1306 Malik Kafur, at the south entrance of this pass, established the city of Sultanpur, and during the rest of the fourteenth century, this route by Sultanpur, Nandurbar, Visarvadi and Songir, would seem to have been one of the regular lines of communication with Upper India and Gujarat. [Lee's Ibn Batuta (1341).] Probably there was also during the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, the time of the greatest splendour of the Musalman dynasty of Ahmedabad, a line of traffic to north Gujarat and the coast along the north bank of the Tapi, and from Malwa through Kukarmunda over the Buvaka or Chandseli passes to Rajpipla. [Captian Clunes' Itinerary, 89.] Two other lines must have been of special importance when Asirgad was the capital of Khandesh. [Besides its legendary importance, Asirgad was the chief place in Khandesh before the Musalman conquest, and afterwards under the Faruki kings before Burhanpur was established (1400).] Of these one runs north and south, from north and central India through the Simrol pass by Asirgad to Ajanta and the south; the other runs west to the coast, the route known as the Asirgad road, through Burhanpur. Savda, Jalgaon, Paldhi, and Borkhand, to Nasik and the Thal pass.

During the seventeenth and the first half of the eighteenth centuries, when Burhanpur was at the height of its power and Surat was the chief port of Western India, the bulk of the great traffic between the inland countries and the coast passed through Khandesh. The European travellers of the seventeenth century describe the main route as passing from east of Surat through Navapur, Nandurbar, Dondaicha, Sindkheda, Thalner, Chopda, Sangvi, and Nhavi, to Burhanpur [Sir T. Roe (1615) in Kerr's Voyages, IX, 256; Tavernier (1660) in Harris' Voyages, II 352.]. A second very important route lay from Surat to Navapur, and then struck south through Pimpalner, Nimpur, and the Patan pass, to Golkonda. [Tavernier in Harris' Voyages, II. 359.]

Routes during 1818-1880:

During the early years of this century the trade of Khandesh almost came to a standstill. At the beginning of British rule there were no made roads. The tracks were ill-appointed and deficient in everything but discomfort and danger. Few and far between were the miserable hamlets, and the mountain passes were as rugged and impracticable as their fierce possessors'. [Graham's Bhil Tribes, 1.] In 1826 the chief routes were from Dhulia as a centre, 155 miles north by Songir and Thalner, through the Sindva pass to Mandleshvar and Mhow; north-east by Amalner, Chopda, and the Dhaulibari pass, seventy-three miles to Dhulkot; east by Farola, Erandol, and Savda, 103 miles to Burhanpur; south-east by Bhadgaon and Pachora, eighty-four miles to Ajanta; south by Mehunbara and the Gavtala pass to Aurangabad; south-west by Malegaon, Chandor, Nasik, and the Thal pass, 179 miles to Bhiwandi, a route passable for every sort of laden cattle; and west by Pimpalner and Navapur to Surat. For many years the only one of these tracks on which money and labour were spent was the great Bombay-Agra trunk road by the Thai pass, Nasik, Malegaon, Dhulia, Songir, Nardana. Dabhasi, Dahivad, and the Palasner or Sindva passs. The road enters Khandesh near the Dhulia village of Jhodga, and running north passes through Virdel crossing the Tapti at Savalda where there is a ferry. It then runs due north through Shirpur until it reaches the Khandesh boundary in the centre of the Satpudas near the fort of Borghar. In 1853-54, some progress was made in. improving the cross roads of the district. About one hundred miles of fair weather roads were built at a cost of Rs. 9,880. [Bom. Rev. Rec. XXVI of 1858, part X, 3012-13. ] But until 1863 the main Agra highway used most of the funds set apart for road-making in Khandesh. Since the levy of a special cess for local works, road-building has made rapid progress. At Songir, on the Agra road about twelve miles north of Dhulia, a much used line, passes north-west through Dangurna, Chimthana and Methi, and Vikran, twenty-four miles to Dondaicha. South from Dhulia, a road, gravelled, drained, and bridged except over the Girna, runs thirty-four miles to Chalisgaon station, and from Chalisgaon is continued seven miles south, through the Outram or Ranjangaon pass, to the border of the ex-Hyderabad State. From Dhulia, west towards Pimpalner, a road has been finished thirty-two miles to Sakri. From Sakri a line is cleared, and the part over the Kondaibari pass bridged and metalled, thirty-eight miles north-west to Navapur on the way to Surat. Since the opening of the railway (Bombay-Bhusawal line) in 1865, the old Asirgad road, running east from Jhodga on the Bombay-Agra road to Burhanpur, has been deserted and left to fall into decay.

Present-day trade routes:

Dhulia is an entrepot centre of trade, and a junction of several highways and roads. An interesting sidelight on the prosperity of this town is the importance of the transit trade. The Bombay-Agra road is by far the most important artery of trade which affords quick transit facilities to Bombay on the one hand and cities in north India on the other. The Dhulia-Jalgaon-Nagpur-Calcutta road has facilitated heavy goods traffic to commercial centres like Jalgaon, Malkapur, Akola, Amravati and Nagpur. This is a very important trade route because it affords transport facilities to the trade centres in northern and eastern Maharashtra. The Dhulia-Surat road has helped establishing close trade contacts with Surat and other markets in Gujarat. The other routes of trade in the district are (1) Dhulia-Chalisgaon-Aurangabad road, (2) Dhulia-Dondaicha-Nandurbar road, (3) Taloda-Shirpur-Raver-Burhanpur road, and (4) Nandurbar-Sakri road.

The Bhusawal-Surat broad gauge railway line which emanates from the Bombay-Delhi trunk route at Jalgaon is a vital artery of trade. It facilitates trade link with Surat, Baroda, Ahmedabad, Bombay, Jalgaon, Nagpur and many other trade centres in Maharashtra and Gujarat. The Dhulia-Chalisgaon branch line which emanates from the Bombay-Delhi railway line at Chalisgaon affords direct rail transport facilities to Kalyan and Bombay.

In spite of the railway facilities available, a bulk of the commercial traffic to destinations, such as Bombay, Nasik. Poona, Jalgaon and Indore goes by road. This can be attributed to the availability of good roads from Dhulia.

Changes in Pattern and Organisation of trade.

Considerable changes have taken place in the socio-economic pattern since the beginning of this century. This had in consequence affected the patten and organisation of trade and commerce also. The pattern of trade existing then was, in conformity with the prevalent trends in the self-sufficient village economy. The means of transport and communications were meagre. This retarded the growth of trade with distant places. The needs of the people were comparatively few. The volume of trade with other districts was smaller as compared to the one that exists at present.

The pattern and organisation of trade has changed partly due to institutional changes and partly due to increase in the volume of trade. Regulation of markets through agricultural produce market committees established under the Bombay Agricultural Produce Markets Act of 1939 has led to changes in the institutional arrangements as regards trade. The legislation in this direction has regulated market practices,. transactions and helped bringing about orderly trade relations between agriculturists and traders. A number of co-operative marketing organisations have come into existence. The pace of growth of the co-operative marketing has gathered momentum since the fifties.