Ancient Tea Horse Road

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The term cha ma dao or Tea Horse Road originated during the period of Tang dynasty. It connected the southwest part of China to Northern India as well as China. At present, it is normally known by the name chama gudao or Ancient Tea Horse Road. Another name is Southern Silk Road. It was a significant network or web of paths which wind around the hills and mountains in Yunnan province. These paths were especially for the mule caravans. Nearly one thousand years back, this route was a very important link for trade from major tea producing spots of Yunnan to Bengal via Burma. It also linked to central China and Tibet too.

No Silk but only Salt and Sugar:

Apart from the trading of tea, salt was also carried by mule caravans. Horses as well as people had carried loads that were very heavy. Most tea porters were found to carry tea of sixty to ninety kilograms. It was via this network of trade that tea bricks were initially spread across Asia and China from its native place known as Pu’er County in Yunnan. The term Tea Horse Road was introduced because there was trade of the Tibetan ponies for tea produced in China. This ancient route actually stretched south to north as well as east to west across the southwest portion of China, which included the Tibet to today, into India and Nepal. Being renowned for major commodities – horse and tea, it gained this special name. This name has made it very popular across the globe. No silk was traded along Ancient Tea Horse Road, but salt and sugar!
This route spans nearly five thousand kilometers in length. Lot of travelers from different parts of the world visits this place as a curious explorer. It helps in broadening the knowledge on Himalayas as well as tea incredibly. Ancient Tea Horse Road is also known as Gyalam to Tibetans which meant Wide Road. Some people call it ‘The Eternal Road’. For old uninterrupted days, migrants, warriors, laden caravans, and villains considered this huge path in mountains as that one that has capacity to give and take their lives. Now, this road is rated as a very incredible and daunting path across the globe.

Invention of Shoucha:

An attractive side note linked to Ancient tea Horse Road is discovery of Pu’er Tea that is post fermented. It is also called Shoucha. It is said that post fermented Pu’er tea which is appreciated within India and across the globe was in a way, byproduct of Ancient Tea Horse Road itself.

Tourism elements:

At present, the Ancient Tea Horse road calls up romantic pictures of tea traders, amazing scenery and mule caravans. The tourism along this route is having a great revival and is being supported by several authorities of Chinese tourism. Therefore, one can visit the very old trade towns located in this mule caravan routes. The two major towns, namely Dali and Xizhou situated in Yunnan were one important halts along this old route.

Travel Tips:

It is easy to reach Yunnan. Kunming Chanshui International Airport, railways and bus services are available. Regular bus services are there which can take you to the Ancient Tea Horse road. 

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