Many travellers from Greece, the Arab world, Western Asia, and China visited India during the ancient and medieval periods. What were their main motives? What did they write about? Read the article to know more about the foreign travellers who visited India during the ancient and medieval periods.
Many travellers from Greece, the Arab world, Western Asia, and China visited India during the ancient and mediaeval periods.
These travellers left numerous records of the things they saw. These foreign visitors had no loyalty to any of the local kings, thus their stories are impartial and provide firsthand information on the subjects they discussed.
According to Herodotus, who lived in the fifth century BC, the Indus River valley in central and eastern Pakistan was the farthest eastern point in the known world.
The Greek geographer Herodotus ( 5th century BC) refers to India as “the Indus country” in addition to using the term Hindus, the Old Persian name for the Indus river and its inhabitants, and the associated satrapy of Sindh of the Achaemenid Empire.
Major travellers who visited India are:
302 to 298 B.C.
- He was the ambassador of Seleucus.
- He travelled to India when Chandragupta Maurya was in power.
- Chandragupta was referred to as Sandrocottus by the Greeks.
- He was also the author of the novel “Indica.”
- Megasthenes is referred to be the “Father of Indian History” since he was the first to depict ancient India.
- 1443 A.D. – 1444 A.D.
- An Islamic scholar and philosopher named Abdur Razzak paid a visit to India while Dev Raya II, the most illustrious ruler of the Sangama dynasty, was in power.
- The people of Calicut, whom he described as having bad hygiene and practicing polyandry, did not impress him.
- Since the Vijayanagar King had called him to his dominion, his time in Calicut was brief.
- Razzak passed through Mangalore before arriving in Vijayanagara.
- 1024–1030 A.D.
- After travelling to India, he wrote a book about Indian culture.
- He wrote Kitab-ul-hind or Tahqiq-i-Hind after investigating the Hindu religion that is widely practiced in India (History of India).
- He became fully knowledgeable about India.
- He studied Sanskrit, Indian philosophy, and the nation’s socioeconomic situation since he was fascinated by Indian culture.
- He occasionally drew parallels between Sufi doctrine and Indian philosophy, as well as that of Socrates, Pythagoras, Plato, Aristotle, Galen, and others.
- His book provides an account of Indian history based on his investigation and observations made between 1017 and 1030.
- 957 A.D.
- Since Al Masudi was the first Arab author to combine history and scientific geography in his works, he was known as the “Herodotus of the Arabs.”
- Masudi was a prolific author who is thought to have produced 34 works in total.
- He visited Malacca, the contemporary capital of Malaysia, as well as Sri Lanka and Indonesia.
- He cites strong trade between Malacca and India’s east coast.
- Al-Masudi believes that the Atlantic and Indian Oceans are connected and refers to the Atlantic Ocean as the Dark-Green Sea.
- 405 to 411 A.D.
- He was a Chinese Buddhist monk.
- He travelled to India during the rule of Vikramaditya (Chandragupta II).
- He gained notoriety for visiting Lumbini.
- His travel journal, ” Record of Buddhist Kingdoms,” details his adventure.
- 630 to 645 AD.
- During the time of King Harsha Vardhan, a Chinese Buddhist monk by the name of Hiuen Tsang, popularly known as Xuanzang, travelled from China to India to collect Buddhist texts.
- He studied in Nalanda, a prestigious institution in the Indian state of Bihar, for almost five years. Hiuen Tsang studied logic, grammar, Sanskrit, and the Yogacara style of Buddhism when he was in Nalanda.
- He wrote “The Records of the Western World,” or Si-yu-ki.
- 1333 to 1347.
- Ibn Battuta, a Moroccan nomad who travelled the world in the 13th century, left his home at the age of 21.
- In Mohammad Bin Tughlaq’s royal court, Ibn Battuta came.
- They set ship from the Gujarati port of Khambhat for Calicut, now called Kozhikode, where they were invited guests of the ruling Zamorin.
- One of the ships of the Ibn Battuta expedition perished in a storm that happened close to Calicut, but the second ship continued without difficulty and was seized a few months later by a local Sumatran ruler.
- He travelled around Southern India for a while under Jamal-ud-protection.
- The poem Rihla was written by Ibn Battuta.
- 1292 and 1294.
- Marco Polo, a Venetian trader and explorer, travelled from Europe to Asia .
- He joined the Tanjore-area Tamil Pandya kingdom.
- He travelled across Southern India while Rudramma Devi of the Kakatiya Dynasty was in power.One of India’s few queens was Rudramadevi, who ruled from 1261 to 1295 CE.
- 1420 to 1421.
- Italian explorer and merchant Niccolo Conti travelled to India in the year 1420, perhaps after Deva Raya II assumed the throne of the Vijayanagara state.
- Niccolo visited Sonargaon and Chittagong (in modern-day Bangladesh), then travelled by land to Arakan (now Rakhine State, Burma).
- The southernmost point that Conti ventured to was Ceylon. He made several stops, notably in Cochin and Calicut, along the Malabar Coast of India (Kozhikode).
- Before travelling to the southern coast of the Arabian Peninsula and the city of Aden, he returned to Cambay.
- He arrived in India in 518 CE along with the monks “Hui Zheng,” “Fa Li,” and “Zheng Fouze” while the Buddhist Empress Hu of the “Northern Wei Dynasty” was in power.
- Sung Yun, a native of Dunhuang, a city in China.
- They departed from the Wei capital of Luoyang in 518 and returned in the winter of 522 bearing 117 Mahayana Buddhist scriptures.
- Fortunately, many important details of their journey have been recorded in Yang Xianzhi’s Loyang Jielanji and other works.
- He visited the Swat region of northern India and created the Gandhara dynasty story there.
Afanasy Russian Nikitin
- 1442-1443 AD
- A Russian businessman named Nikitin spent more than two years in India, travelling to various locations, getting to know the people there, and methodically documenting everything he saw.
- The merchant’s notes were assembled into a document called a “Journey,” which is more akin to a trip journal.
- This literature accurately reflected the nature and political structure of India, as well as its traditions, way of life, and customs.
- 1615 A.D. – 1619 A.D
- Englishman Sir Thomas Roe served as a diplomat.
- He visited India in 1615, during Jahangir’s rule. He went to Surat to look for security for an English company.
- He left behind a priceless contribution to Indian history with his “Journal of the Mission to the Mughal Empire.”
- 1520-1522 A.D.
- Numerous Portuguese traders and tourists visited Vijayanagara when Goa was taken over in 1510 and became the seat of the Portuguese Estado da India.
- These visitors published in-depth reports of Bisnaga’s beauty.
- Domingos Paes’ is most noteworthy, written between 1520 and 1522.
- Paes’ description, published during Krishnadeva’s reign and mostly based on close observation, fully explains the yearly royal Durga festival and the so-called feudal Malankara system of Vijayanagara’s military organisation.
- 1535-1537 A.D.
- A Portuguese horse dealer named Fernao Nuniz wrote his account of India sometime between 1536 and 1537.
- He was at Vijaynagara’s capital under the rule of Achyutaraya, and he might have been present for Krishnadevaraya’s earlier battles.
- This visitor was very interested in the history of Vijayanagara, particularly the building of the city, the subsequent rule of three dynasties, and the battles they fought against the Deccan sultans and Orissan Rayas.
- Additionally, his observations offer insight into the Mahanavami celebration, where he admires the extravagant gems worn by the courtly women and the hundreds of women serving the monarch.
- 1656 A.D. – 1668A.D.
- He was a French traveller and doctor.
- He spent the years 1656 to 1668 in India.
- In the course of rule of Shah Jahan he visited India.
- He served Prince Dara Shikoh as a doctor before joining Aurangzeb’s court.
- The rules of Aurangzeb and Dara Shikoh are mostly discussed in the book.
Jean Baptiste Tavernier
- 1638-1663 A.D.
- French traveller who visited India 6 times during the reign of Shahjahan and Aurangzeb.
- 1608-1611 A.D.
- A representative of King James I of England.
- Arrived in India during the rule of the great Mughal Emperor Jahangir along with William Finch.
Contributions of Foreign Travellers
- The accounts of these travellers covered a variety of topics. The stories that have survived cover a wide range of topics.
- Others are interested in religious issues, architectural issues, and monuments, while some are preoccupied with legal difficulties.
- Visitors to India accurately portrayed Indian culture in their writings.
- Particularly in mediaeval and ancient India, foreign travel reports are crucial to understanding Indian history.
- Their tour’s narrative was able to shed light on a number of topics, including government and regional customs.
- Understanding what other people think of our country is helpful. It helps us recognise where our nation is lacking.
- Understanding how people lived in our country is useful.
- Their writings offer details on the ports along the coast of India, the trade centres within India, the trade routes connecting the trade centres and ports, the distance between the centres, a list of the commodities that can be traded, the annual volume of trade, rates, ship types, and other information.
Visitors who want to learn about one of the world’s ancient civilizations have long considered India to be a dream destination. India has drawn several adventurous travellers who have fallen in love with its customs and colours from the beginning of time. These foreign travellors had no allegiance to the local tyrants; as a result, their testimonials are unbiased and offer specific information on the subjects they covered.
Article Written By : Atheena Fathima Riyas