List Of Foreign Travellers Who Visited India in History

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India’s history has been profoundly impacted by foreign travellers like Megasthenes and Hiuen Tsang during ancient times, as well as Ibn Battuta and Vasco da Gama in the Middle Ages and Early Modern Era. These travellers, who came from Greece to Morocco and other places, wrote about their travels and gave important new perspectives on Indian society, trade, and culture. Their narratives continue to be important resources for comprehending the Indian subcontinent’s historical dynamics.

Foreign Travelers in Ancient India

The historical traditions of ancient India were significantly shaped by foreign travellers like Faxian and Megasthenes.

  • During Chandragupta Maurya’s reign, the Mauryan Empire’s court was explained by Megasthenes, a Greek ambassador from 4th century BCE.
  • Chinese traveller Faxian, made contributions to Buddhist study and recorded information of the Gupta era in the 5th century CE.
  • Along with others such as Hiuen Tsang, these early observers forged lasting ties between India and the world at large, leaving behind priceless documents that shed light on ancient Indian politics, society, and culture. Understanding the historical dynamics of the Indian subcontinent still heavily relies on their writings.

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Foreign Travellers in Medieval India

Many foreign travellers were drawn to medieval India, and many of them left behind meaningful records of their experiences.

  • During the reign of Muhammad bin Tughlaq, the Delhi Sultanate’s political and cultural landscape was recorded by the Moroccan explorer Ibn Battuta in the 14th century.
  • The Italian trader Marco Polo provided insights into Southern India’s economic history throughout the Kakatiya and Pandyan eras.
  • During the 17th century, French gem merchant Jean-Baptiste Tavernier travelled throughout India and recorded information about the thriving trade of the Mughal Empire.
  • By sharing their many points of view, these travellers enhanced our comprehension of medieval Indian society, trade, and administration through their insightful writings, which are still used as historical resources.

List Of Foreign Travellers in India

Ancient Travellers to IndiaTimelineDetails of Foreign Travellers Who Visited India
Deimachus3rd Century B.C.Deimachus was the Greek ambassador to Bindusara’s court who was the son of Chandragupta Maurya and the Mauryan Empire‘s second ruler.
Megasthenes302-298 B.C.Megasthenes was Seleucus’s ambassador who visited the country when India was under Chandragupta Maurya’s supremacy. On his visit to India, he wrote a book called INDICA based on India. He introduced Chandragupta Mauryan as ‘SANDROCOTTUS.’
Fa Hein405-411 A.D.He was a Buddhist monk from China who came to India during Chandragupta II’s (Vikramaditya) reign. On his tour to India, he visited Lumbini, i.e., Buddha’s birthplace. His travelogue was called “Records of Buddhist Kingdom.”
Hiuen Tsang630-645 ADHiuen Tsang was another Buddhist monk from China who came to India during Harsha Vardhana’s reign. He wrote “The Records of Western World”, also called Si-Yu-Ki. He was called to King Harshavardhana’s court after becoming a guest of the Kamarupa ruler, Bhaskaravarman.
I-Tsing671-695 ADI-Tsing visited India during the reign of Harshavardhana. He was a traveller from China who came to India because of Buddhism. He wrote various biographies on the monks of India.
Al Masudi957 ADAl Masudi was a traveller who visited India from Arabia in the middle of the 10th century A.D. He described his views on India in his book, Muruj-ul-Zehab.
Al Beruni (Abu Rehman Mahamud)1024-1030 ADAlong with Mahmud of Ghazni, Al Beruni visited India. He was a Persian scholar who came to India. He explained India in his book ‘Tahqiqi-e-Hind’. For his contribution, he has also been titled the father of Indology.
Macro Polo1292-1294 ADMacro Polo came during the reign of Rudramma Devi of the Kakatiyas. He was a European scholar who entered India from the South. He wrote “The Book of Sir Marco Polo,” which gives an invaluable account of Indian economic history.
Ibn Batuta1333-1347 ADHe travelled to India from Morocco in the 14th century during the reign of Mohammed Bin Tughlaq and wrote “RIHLA.”
Nicolo Conti1420-1421 ADNicolo Conti was a merchant from Italy who came to India while Devaraya I of the Sangam dynasty of the Vijayanagar Empire was ruling.
Abdul Razak1443-1444 ADHe was a Persian scholar. He was also an ambassador of Persia. He visited during the reign of Deva Raya II of the Vijayanagara Empire.
Duarte Barbosa1500-1516 ADDuarte Barbosa was a Portuguese traveller who visited India in the early 16th century. His writings include details about the Vijayanagara Empire’s people and government.
William Hawkins1608-1611 ADWilliam Hawkins visited India during Jahangir’s reign. He was the ambassador of James I of England to the Mughal Court.
Thomas Roe1615-1619 ADThomas Roe also visited India during Jahangir’s reign. He was an English diplomat who visited India to request protection of the factory set up by the English at Surat. Roe’s account of his stay in India ‘Journal of the Mission to the Mogul Empire’ is a valuable document shedding light on the history of the early 17th century in India.
Francois Bernier1656-1717 ADFrancois was a physician and scholar from France. His patron was Daneshmand Khan, a noble at Aurangzeb’s court.

Foreign Travelers in Indian History: UPSC

The history of India has been profoundly influenced by foreign visitors throughout. These witnesses offer a variety of viewpoints, from the Greek envoy Megasthenes at the Mauryan court of the 4th century BCE to the Moroccan narratives of Ibn Battuta under the Delhi Sultanate. The wealth of Southern India was chronicled by Marco Polo’s Italian camera, while the Mughal grandeur was documented by Jean-Baptiste Tavernier’s French travels.

The meticulous documentation of the Chinese travellers Faxian and Xuanzang illuminated historical Buddhist locations. Historical records were enhanced by European explorers such as the Portuguese Duarte Barbosa and the English envoy Sir Thomas Roe. Together, these foreign voices unravel the complex political, cultural, and societal complexities of India over time, creating a global tapestry.

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Which notable works were authored by foreign travellers to India?

Numerous important works, including INDICA, the Records of the Buddhist Kingdom, the Records of the Western World, Muruj-ul-Zehab, Tahqiqi-e-Hind, The Book of Sir Macro Polo, Rihla, and others, were written by foreign travellers who visited India in the ancient and mediaeval periods.

In ancient India, who was the Prince of the Travellers?

During King Harshavardhana’s reign, a Chinese Buddhist monk named Hiuen Tsang (630–645) travelled to India. The “prince of pilgrims” was also the title that was given to him.

Who were the first visitors from outside India?

Megasthenes was the first foreign traveller to visit India. He served as a Seleucus envoy.

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