India is one of the oldest civilizations in the world. It has attracted so many travelers from different parts of the world to experience the wealth, culture and customs. The country has always been the dream destination for travelers and merchants who were interested in knowing one of the oldest civilizations better. Travelers from the medieval period came to India to grab knowledge, trade, to learn and to know about customs. Even we get to know a lot about the history of our country from the travelogues of these chroniclers. Some of the famous travelers who visited India are:
Megasthenes (302-298 B.C.)
Megasthenes was the Greek ethnographer & ambassador of Seleucus Nicator. He came to India during the reign of King Chandragupta Maurya. He was the author of the book called ‘Indica’, and stayed for about five years in India. With the help of his accounts, we learn about geography, government, society, and religion of India.
Fa-Hien (405-411 A.D.)
Fa-Hien was a Chinese Buddhist monk and the first Chinese traveller who traveled to India during the reign of King Vikramaditya. He came to India in search of Buddhist scriptures and we can learn about the same from his travelogue, ‘Record of Buddhist Kingdoms’. Fa-Hien wrote ‘Fo-Kyo-Ki’ and also known for his tour to Lumbini (the birthplace of Buddha).
Hiuen Tsang (630-645 A.D.)
Another Chinese Buddhist monk, Hiuen Tsang or Xuan Zang visited India during the ascendancy of Pushyabhuti dynasty king Harshavardhana. Hiuen Tsang was invited by Harshavardhana to Kannauj. He visited Kashmir, Punjab, Bodh Gaya, Kushinagar, Nalanda, etc. He is the author of ‘The Records of the Western World’ or ‘Si-Yu-Ki’. He stayed for 14 years in India and before leaving India, he left behind a lot of his account reflects about the political, religious and social set up of India.
Al-Biruni (1024-1030 A.D.)
Al-Biruni was a Persian scholar who accompanied Mahmud of Ghazni to India and is the author of the very famous book called ‘Tahqiq-i-hind’ or ‘Kitab-ul-Hind‘ (History of India). He was considered as the father of Indology and the first Muslim scholar to study India. He had command over several languages like Arabic, Persian, Sanskrit, Syriac, greek, Khwarezmian. He stayed in India for 13 years to study India’s literature and its culture.
Ibn Battuta (1333-1347 A.D.)
Ibn Battuta was a Moroccan scholar who visited India during the supremacy of Mohammed Bin Tughlaq. He was the only traveler of the medieval history who traveled almost every country ruled by a Muslim ruler for a period of almost thirty years. He wrote a book called ‘Rihla‘ which is a travelogue.
Nicolo Conti (1420-1421 A.D.)
Nicolo de Conti was from Italy and a Venetian explorer who visited India during the ruling of Deva Raya I of the Vijaynagar empire, the capital of the principal Hindu state of the Deccan. Nicolo de Conti gave a graphic account of Vijayanagara’s capital.
Abdur Razzak (1443-1444 A.D.)
He was a Persian scholar and ambassador of Shahrukh of the Timurid dynasty who visited India during the reign of Deva Raya II of the Vijaynagar empire. He visited around 1440 and was one of the earliest chroniclers to mention Vijaynagar. A lot can be studied from his accounts about the Hampi marketplace and its architecture.
Vasco De Gama (1498-1510 A.D)
Vasco De Gama was the first European to visit India by Sea. He Reached Calicut port during the reign of Hindu Ruler Zamorin. He has a strong history with India and to be precise, Goa. He had a task to combat the growing corruption in the Portuguese government of India. Vasco da Gama sea journey was the first to link the Europe continent and Asia continent by an ocean route, connecting the Atlantic and the Indian oceans.
Thomas Roe (1615-1619 A.D.)
Sir Thomas Roe was an English diplomat and British ambassador of King of England James I who traveled to India in 1615 during the reign of Mughal Emperor Jahangir. He visited India for a mission to seek protection for an English factory in Surat. A lot can be studied about Indian history from his ‘Journal of the Mission to the Mughal Empire’.