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(i) Throughout the course of history, India has been a centre of attraction for rulers and travelers worldwide.
(ii) Most of these travelers who came to India wrote their own accounts which deal with its unique focus areas.
(iii) Every such account presents a true picture of the then Indian Civilisation.
(iv) A key thing to note that no account of any women traveler is available.
Brief Description of some of the most important travelers:
(i) He was an ancient Greek historian, diplomat and explorer in the Hellenistic period.
(ii) Megasthenes visited India between 302 to 288 BC as an ambassador of Greek warrior Seleucus I Nikator.
(iii) He visited the Maurya capital Pataliputra during the reign of Chandragupta Maurya who was the founder of Maurya dynasty.
(iv) He described India in his book Indica.
(v) John Watson McCrindle published a reconstructed version of Indica in 1887.
(vi) Indica described the sub-continent as a quadrilateral shaped country, bounded by the ocean on Southern and Eastern side.
(vii) It also gives us the detail of soils, rivers, plants, animals, administration and the social and religious life of India.
(viii) His book also communicated that Indians worshiped Lord Krishna during that time and there %jgted seven castes
(ix) He founded two major aspects of Indian caste system, i.e. endogamy and hereditary occupation.
(x) The major faults of Megasthenes’ work were:
FA-HIEN I RECORD OF BUDDHIST KINGDOMS
(i) Fa-Hien was a Chinese pilgrim who visited India during Gupta period around 400 AD.
(ii) Fie visited India during the period of Chandragupta II (Vikramaditya).
(iii) He came to visit various Buddhist monasteries and took the copy of religious texts.
(iv) He compiled a travelogue “Record of Buddhistic Kingdoms”. His book details about the religious and social life of Indians at that time like:
HIUEN TSANG I SI-YU-KI
(i) He was a Chinese traveller, Buddhist scholar monk and translator.
(ii) He came to India through Silk route in between 629-644 AD during the reign of Harshavardhana.
(iii) He was also known as Xuanzang and the Prince of Pilgrims.
(iv) From his famous book Si-Yu-Ki: Buddhist Record of the Western World”, many details of administrative, political, religious, economic and social conditions during those days in India can be found.
(v) However, the descriptions were biased so as to glorify Buddhism and praise King Harshavardhana.
(vi) He, however, narrated that travelling was not safe during that time
(vii) According to Hiuen Tsang, Harsha was quite labourious and a welfare focused leader.
(viii) His journey to India was recorded in detail in the classic Chinese text Great Tang Record on the Western Regions.
(ix) As per his text, Harsha divided State’s income into four parts :
(a) l/4th for routine administrative expenditure of the State.
(b) l/4th to pay government employees.
(c) l/4th to scholars.
(d) l/4th as charity to Brahmin and Buddhist monks.
AL-MASUDI 1 MURUJ-UL-ZEHAB
(i) He was an Arab historian, geographer and explorer.
(ii) He was a prolific author and he wrote on various subjects like theology, history, geography, natural science, philosophy, etc.
(iii) He was also known as the “Herodotus of the Arabs”.
(iv) He combined world history with scientific geography, social commentary and biography and is published in English named ‘The Meadows of Gold and Mines of Gems’.
(v) Al-Masudi wrote his famous manuscript named Muruj-ul-Zehab in 956 AD.
(i) He was a scholar who was well versed in Syriac, Arabic, Persian, Hebrew and Sanskrit.
(ii) He translated several Sanskrit works, including Patanjali’s work on Grammar.
(iii) Conversely, he translated Euclid’s (Greek Mathematician) works into Sanskrit.
(iv) Al-Biruni’s Kitab-ul-Hind is a voluminous text written in simple Arabic covers wide range of subjects such as religion, philosophy, festivals, astronomy, alchemy, manners and customs, social life, weights and measures, iconography, laws and metrology.
(v) He tried toexplain the caste system by looking for parallels in other societies known to him.
MARCO POLO I THE BOOK OF SIR MARCO POLO
(i) Marco Polo was an Italian merchant, adventurer and writer.
(ii) His book “The Travels of Marco Polo” mentioned that China had large area and great wealth.
(iii) He wrote a detailed chronicle of his experiences in his book “The Book of Sir Marco Polo”. This book inspired Christopher Columbus.
(iv) Marco Polo visited the Kakatiya kingdom during the reign of Queen Rudramadevi.
(v) Other than these books, he wrote several manuscripts like The Customs of the Kingdoms of India, Florida Marco Polo, Travels in the Land of Serpents and Pearls, etc.
IBN BATTUTA І RIHEA
(i) Ibn Battuta was a Moroccan traveller and throughout his life, Ibn travelled extensively in Syria, Iraq, Persia, Yemen, Oman and a few trading ports on the coast of East Africa.
(ii) He came to India during the reign of Muhammad Bin Tughlaq who then appointed him as “qazi” or judge of Delhi.
(iii) In 1342, he travelled to China as the Sultan’s envoy.
(iv) Ibn Battuta wrote a book of travels in Arabic called ‘Rihla’. It provides vivid details about the social and cultural life of India in the 14th century.
(v) Ibn Battuta was fascinated by Paan (Betel leaves) and even compared coconut with a human’s head while writing about it.
(vi) He also mentions that the postal system was very efficient then which was not only used to send information and remit credit across long distances but was also used to dispatch goods.
NICOLO DE CONTI
(i) Nicolo De Conti was an Italian merchant and explorer.
(ii) He entered India in 1420-1421 AD at the time of Devaraya I of Vijayanagara.
(iii) In Mylapore (in Chennai), he found the tomb of St. Thomas which ensured the presence of Christian community in India.
(iv) He confirmed the gold and spice trade amongst India Sumatra and China.
(v) He referred Telugu language as “Italian of the East”.
(vi) De’ Conti described South-East Asia as “overtaking all other regions in terms of wealth, culture and magnificence”.
ABDIJR RAZZAQ I MATLA-US-SADAIN-WA-MAJMA-UL-BAHRAIN
(i) He was a Persian, Timurid chronicler and a scholar who visited the Vijayanagara Kingdom at the time of Dev Raya IT and gave an account of the reign of Devaraya II.
(ii) He came to the court of King Zamorin of Calicut, as an ambassador of Shahrukh (the Timurid Dynasty Ruler of Persia) in 1442.
(iii) His book is Matla-us-Sadain wa Majma-ul-Bahrain.
DOMINGO PAES I CHRONICA DOS REIS DE BISNAGA
(i) He was a Portuguese merchant, writer and explorer who gave the most detailed account of the ancient city of Hampi under the reign of King Krishnadeva Raya of Tuluva Dynasty under Vijayanagara Empire.
(ii) He recorded his journey in his book named “Chronica dos reis de Bisnaga” where he provided indepth information about Vijayanagara Empire.
(a) Advanced irrigation technology that allowed the peasant to produce high yielding crops at very low prices.
(b) A wide variety of cultures were shown in crops and vegetation, o He described a busy market of precious stones.
(c) The city was prospering and its size was comparable to Rome, with abundant vegetation, aqueducts and artificial lakes.
WILLIAM HAWKINS (1608-1611 AD)
(i) He was a representative of the English East India Company and an ambassador of the British King James-I.
(ii) He came to India in 1608 and travelled to Agra in the court of Mughal Emperor Jahangir to negotiate for the establishment of a factory at Surat.
SIR THOMAS ROE (1615 - 1619 AD) I
(i) He was an English diplomat and a member of the House of Commons during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I. From 1615 to 1619, he stayed at the court of the Mughal Emperor Jahangir.
(ii) The book “The Embassy of Sir Thomas Roe to the Court of the Great Mogul, 1615-1619, as narrated in his journal and correspondence” is a valuable contribution to the history of India in the early 17th century.
(iii) His “Journal of the Mission to the Mughal Empire” is a treasured contribution to the history of India.
JEAN-BAPTISTE TAVERNIER (1638-1643 AD)
(i) He was a 17th-century French gem (especially diamond) merchant and traveler.
(ii) he came to India and traveled as far as Agra and from there to the Kingdom of Golconda.
(iii) He also visited the court of the Shahjahan and made his first trip to the diamond mines.
(iv) In his book, he has extensively discussed about diamond and the diamond mines of India.
(v) He is popular for his discovery/purchase of Blue diamond that he subsequently sold to Louis XIV of France.
FRANCOIS BERNIER I TRAVELS IN THE MUGHAL EMPIRE
(i) Francois Bernier was a Frenchman who was a doctor, political philosopher and historian.
(ii) He constantly compared Mughal India with contemporary Europe, especially France trying to portray the latter as superior.
(iii) He mostly wrote about the prevalent social and economic life.