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India Post

General Knowledge | 7-12 yrs | Interactive, Learning Pod

History of India Post

The postal system is a way of transporting correspondence in the form of letters or cards, and other packages across distances. Emperors used a form of postal services to govern their kingdoms from as early as 550 BC but the service was not always available to the public.

Private courier services were available at a high cost to the public, but by the mid 19th century governments began to monopolise the post as a national service, and the system of post as we know it today was born. Trains played a huge part in the formation of this system of correspondence because governments, or colonials, whichever the case may be, used an existing network of transporting goods to transport messages, faster than a horse could carry.

The most basic form of post is an envelope or postal card, that is issued by the post office; that is pre-stamped with the exact cost of transporting the message. This differs from a postcard, that is simply a rectangular piece of thick paper; that you can use to write, and mail a message, without an envelope. It can be made of card stock or a light-weight cardboard, and is most often 6 inches long and 4.25 inches wide.

Postal cards were initially made as people were looking for an economical way to send messages. They were so simple to make that as early as the 1870s in the United States of America and India, the post office itself sold pre-stamped cards for people to write on and mail across vast distances. This system proved extremely lucrative and helped establish a large postal service using the growing rail systems of the British Raj. It also remains, to date, the cheapest form of post in India.

Originally postal cards were designed to have the sender and receivers address in one quarter of the card while the rest was for writing. The popularity and cheap cost of sending a postcard, at the same time as the dawn of photography, that captures images of the Eiffel Tower being constructed, led to the modern picture postcard.

So popular is the tradition of postcards that the there is a branch of knowledge dedicated to it called deltiology. It is the third largest hobby in the world after philately (stamp collecting) and numastics (collecting coins or bank notes). Picture postcards are valuable because they tell historical societies and librarians how a town or city looked, as well as the social history of the place.

What is the difference between a ‘Mail’ train, a ‘Rajdhani’ and a ‘Shatabdi’ in the Indian rail network?

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