Trade on the Bay of Bengal
Located between India and the Malay Peninsula, the Bay of Bengal linked Eastern Asia with the Indian Sub-continent. On the Indian side, Madras and Pondcherry dominated the Chola Coast where ships set sail for Eastern Asia. Other ships on the maritime trade route between Rome and China passed through Sri Lanka. Often Indian ships collected these cargos and set out for Eastern Asia. In order to reach Vietnam or China the ships had to pass through the Straits of Malacca. This was considered a dangerous voyage, where ruthless "sea gypsies" or pirates were known to lurk. An option to this, was to unload the cargo on the shore and pay the local people to transport it across the Isthmus of Kra to the far coast where Chinese Junks could collect it. Since this was a difficult undertaking, the majority of trade passed through the Strait of Malacca. Cities overlooking the strait, such as Srivijar (near modern day Palembang) and Malacca became rich and powerful through trade and taxes on passing ships.

Map of trade routes on the Bay of Bengal
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