Importance of National Highways in India

16 Mar 2023  Read 505 Views

Had a meal sitting at a Dhaba 🍴 on the National highway, wondering what makes the National Highways special & why it’s important for our country. Apart from sitting at dhabas or going for long drives, National Highways play many other significant roles, like increasing connectivity between various cities and acting as a key to the transportation of many natural resources from one place to another. 

There are three types of transportation: 

  • Road transportation
  • Water transportation
  • Air transportation

India's road network is considered one of the largest in the world. These roads are categorised into National Highways, Border Roads, State Highways, District Highways, Village Roads, etc. 

Primarily focusing on national highways in this article, we will be discussing NHAI, how highways are numbered, their importance, the corridors of India, a list of important national highways and many more. So, let’s get started.

National Highways in India

There are a total of 599 National Highways in India. The longest National Highway is NH44, running between Srinagar in J&K & Kanyakumari in Tamil Nadu, covering 3,806 km. The shortest National Highway is NH766EE, covering 4.27 km from Hettikeri to Belekeri port in Karnataka. 

The Leh–Manali Highway connecting Leh (Ladakh) to Manali (Himachal Pradesh) is the world’s 2nd highest-altitude motorable highway, [meaning it is 4000 meters above sea level & its highest elevation is met at the Tanglang La Pass, more than 5000 meters]. 

The 1st National Highway in India was the old NH-1, previously linking the National capital of Delhi to Attari in Punjab near the Indo-Pak Border. But according to the new numbering system, NH 1 runs between the Union Territories of J&K and Ladakh.

How are National Highways numbered?

  • All North-South highways carry an ‘even’ number.
  • North-South highways will enhance their numbers from East to West. 
  • Say: Any North-South highway in Central India or Western India will have a higher number as compared to the one in East India.
  • All East-West highways carry ‘odd’ numbers.
  • All major Highways will be single-digit or double-digit in a number
  • Three digits numbered highways are branches of the main highway; these are secondary ones like 144, 244, 344, etc., of National Highway 44.
  • Suffixes A, B, C, D, etc., are added to the three-digit sub-highways to reflect very few stretches of sub-highways. For example, 966A, 527B, and many more.

What is Golden Quadrilateral & corridors of India?

The National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) was established by the National Highways Authority of India Act 1988 to develop, maintain, and manage National Highways. India launched a massive program of highway upgrades known as the National Highways Development Project (NHDP) in 1998. The North–South–East–West Corridor (NS-EW) is India's largest ongoing highway project, which is the second phase of this NHDP. This program upgraded the highway corridors into four or six lanes to widen these highways: 

Depiction of lanes in highways

(i) corridor connecting the major metro cities of Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, and Kolkata, popularly known as the golden quadrilateral; 

Corridors are passages connecting cities, buildings etc. Amongst these, the Golden Quadrilateral is a national highway network of six-lane roads which is the largest national highway project in India and the fifth largest in the world.

Source: mapsofindia
The red line depicts the Golden Quadrilateral

(ii) north-south corridor connecting Srinagar to Kanyakumari (4,000 km); 

This is a four-lane road which is 4,000 kilometres (2,500 mi) corridor via NH 44 (Srinagar-Udhampur-pot-Jammu–Jalandhar–Delhi–Agra–Gwalior–Jhansi–Sagar–Narsinghpur-Lakhnadon–Nagpur-Hyderabad-Chikkaballapur-Bengaluru-Salem–Madurai-Kanyakumari), branch road NH 544 (Salem–Coimbatore–Palakkad-Kochi)

Source: blogspot
The green line depicts the north-south corridor of India

(iii) east-west corridor that connects Silchar to Porbandar (3,300 km)

This is a 3four-lane road which is 300 kilometres (2,100 mi) corridor via NH 27 (Porbandar–Rajkot-Samakhiali–Radhanpur–Kota–Jhansi–Kanpur-Lucknow–Ayodhya-Gorakhpur-Muzaffarpur–Darbhanga-Supaul-Purnia– Dalkhola-Kishanganj, Islampur–Sonapur- Ghoshpukur-Jalpaiguri Alipurduar- Bongaigaon - Nalbari Bijni–Guwahati–Nagaon–Dabaka–Silchar).

Source: blogspot
The blue line depicts the east-west corridor of India

Important National Highways in India 

1. National Highway NH 44

The National Highway NH 44, previously known as NH7, covers a total distance of 4112 km. It is considered to be the longest highway in India, covering a total of 11 states and linking approx 30 prime cities that is the route follows Srinagar to Kanyakumari. 

2. The National Highway NH 27

The National Highway NH 27 wraps up a total distance of 3507 km. This route follows Gujarat to Silchar up to Assam. It connects the eastern part of India and brings it closer to the western part quickly. It is considered to be India’s financial pulse due to its connectivity to not just 7 states but more than 45 cities.

3. The National Highway NH 48

The National Highway NH 48, previously known as NH 8, covers a total distance of 2807 km. The route follows from Delhi up to Chennai. It provides connectivity between north and south Indian states. It is a frequently used highway because it connects India’s most important states and cities.

4. The National Highway NH 27

The National Highway NH 27 covers a total distance of 2317 km. The route follows from Sangrur, Punjabi, up to Ankola, Karnataka. 

5. The National Highway NH 30

The National Highway NH 30, previously called NH 221, wraps up a total distance of 2040 km. The route follows Sitarganj in Uttarakhand up to Ibrahimpatnam in Andhra Pradesh. This highway is considered one of the safest highways in India, as it is prone to very few accidents.

6. The National Highway NH 16

The National Highway NH 16, previously called the NH 5, covers a total distance of 1711 km. The route followers from the East coast of West Bengal up to Chennai in Tamil Nadu.

7. The National Highway NH 66

The National Highway NH 66, earlier known as NH 17, covers 1622 km. The route follows from Panvel up to Kanyakumari.

8. The National Highway NH 19

The National Highway NH 19, previously called NH 20, covers a total distance of 1435 km. This route follows from Delhi up to Kolkata.

9. The National Highway NH 34

The National Highway NH 34 covers a total distance of 1426 km. This route follows from Gangotri Dham in Uttarakhand up to the Lakhnadon in Madhya Pradesh.

Now, the question is who maintains the national highways. Let’s check this out.

National Highway Authority of India (NHAI)

NHAI, under which Section 16(1) performs the function of developing, maintaining and managing the National Highways. It is an authoritative body established by the NHAI Act, 1988, that later became an autonomous body in 1995. It is responsible for proper management of highways and the operation, development, and maintenance of National Highways. Highways are needed to develop quick connectivity between various parts of India. So its gets important to learn about few of the important national highways in India.

Previous National Highway No Recent National Highway No. Serial No. under NH Act, 1956 Routes covered through states/ UTs
NH 1 A and NH 1 D NH 1 1 Jammu & Kashmir
NH 1 B NH 244 144 Jammu & Kashmir
NH 2 NH 19 (Golden Quadrilateral) 63 Bihar, Delhi, Haryana, Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal
NH 2A NH 519 66 Uttar Pradesh
NH 2B NH 114 40 West Bengal
NH 3 


NH 50

NH 60 188 Maharashtra
NH 223 NH 4 12 Andaman & Nicobar Islands
NH 4 A NH 748 165 Goa, Karnataka
NH 4 B NH 348 161 Maharashtra
NH 5


NH 6

NH 60

NH 217

NH 16 (Golden Quadrilateral) 49 Andhra Pradesh, Odisha, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal
NH 7 NH 135 123 Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh
NH 7 A NH 138 131 Tamil Nadu
NH 8 NH 48 (Golden Quadrilateral) 157 Delhi, Gujarat, Haryana, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu
NH 8 A NH 41 139 Gujarat
NH 8 C NH 147 154 Gujarat
NH 8 D NH 151 171 Gujarat
NH 9 NH 65 196 Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Telangana
NH 11 NH 21 73 Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh
NH 11 A NH 148 158 Rajasthan
NH 12 NH 45 336 Madhya Pradesh, Chattisgarh
NH 18 


NH 4

NH 40 136 Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu
NH 21


NH 22

NH 95

NH 5 13 Haryana, Chandigarh, Himachal Pradesh, Punjab
NH 23 NH 320 71 Jharkhand
NH 24 NH 530 102 Uttar Pradesh
NH 30 NH 319 65 Bihar
NH 35 NH 112 37 West Bengal
NH 39 NH 129 98 Assam, Nagaland
NH 47 NH 544 147 Kerala, Tamil Nadu
NH 47 A NH 966 B 205 Kerala
NH 47 C NH 966 A 204 Kerala
NH 55 NH 110 34 West Bengal
NH 56 NH 731 110 Uttar Pradesh
NH 79 NH 156 184 Rajasthan
NH 152 NH 127 A 87 Assam
NH 38 & NH 153 NH 315 45 Assam, Arunachal Pradesh


Lengths of National Highways in states

State Lengths of National Highways (in kms)
Andhra Pradesh 6529.5
Arunachal Pradesh    2537.4
Assam 3908.5
Bihar 5030.6
Chattisgarh 3605.8
Goa 292.9
Gujarat 6635
Haryana 3097.6
Himachal Pradesh 2606.9
Jharkhand 3366.8
Karnataka 7334.8
Kerala 1781.6
Madhya Pradesh 8772.3
Maharashtra 17756.6
Manipur 1750.3
Meghalaya 1155.6
Mizoram 1422.5
Nagaland 1547.7
Odisha 5761.5
Punjab 3769.5
Rajasthan 9988.8
Sikkim 463
Tami Nadu  6741.5
Telangana 3795.5
Tripura 853.8
Uttar Pradesh 11736.8
Uttarakhand 2949.3
West Bengal 3664.5


National highways play a vital role in the development of the Indian economy in terms of carrying passengers or goods from one place to another. It can be said that India is highly underrated for consisting of plenty of natural resources such as Coal, Red sandalwood, Gold etc. So, Highways are the key to the transportation of these natural resources to several places in India. National highways are spread to only 2% of Indian roads, but it carries 40% of traffic like goods or movement of people. National highways generate major revenue from toll plazas, tourism, etc., thus, boosting our Indian economy.

About the Author: Kakoli Nath | 157 Post(s)

Kakoli Nath is a legal Content Manager at Finology Legal who pursued BBA.LL.B (5 years integrated course). She is a patent analyst & had also done advanced certification in Forensics Psychology and Criminal Profiling from IFS, Pune.

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