Miscellaneous-Foreign Travellers/Envoys

Miscellaneous-Foreign Travellers/Envoys

India has consistently been a destination for “foreign travellers” or “envoys” to visit and fetch knowledge or economic resources. “Foreign travellers” have always been mesmerised to see the cultures and civilisation of India.

From ancient history to modern history it has been seen that many “foreign envoys” or “travellers” have come to India and stayed here for a long period. They have fallen in love with tradition, architecture, education, civilization and lifestyle. The British people were so attracted to Indian resources that they tried to capture the whole of India and rule the country. We can learn many things about ancient India from the travelogues of the ancient travellers. On the other hand, some of the travellers came to India to just spread their own religion and that is why India is containing people with various religious beliefs.

Name of the “foreign travellers” in the before Christ period:

From the before Christ period to the modern time various foreign travellers have come to India and they have spread impacts on Indian history.

Megasthenes (B.C302-298 B.C): Megasthenes was a Greek ambassador and “ethnographer” of “Seleucus Nicator” and went to the Chandragupta Maurya’s royal chateau. In his writing “Indica” Megasthenes described India. In his book, there is also the description of the two important rivers Ganga and Sindhu. As he first described Indian history in his book therefore he is called “The father of Indian history”.

Deimachos (320-273 B.C): Deimachos was also a Greek ambassador and came to the royal court of Bindusara or Amitraghata the son of King Chandragupta Maurya. The son of Seleucus Nicator Antiochus sent him to India and he provided important information about the contemporary political and social aspects of India.

Name of “Foreign travellers” in the Anno Domini period:

Many foreign travellers have come to India in mediaeval and modern times in India either to rule or fetch information about India. 

Ptolemy (130A.D): He is a geographer and came from Greece and wrote a book on the geographical regions and the specifications in his book “The Geography Of India”.

Faxian (405-411 A.D): In the time of King Chandragupta Vikramaditya this Chinese wanderer came on foot and he was the first Buddhist pilgrim who visited India. He has provided the specifications about the Gupta Dynasty and also visited Lumbini. He has written two books named “Foguoji” and “Record of Buddhist Kingdom”.

I-Tsing (671-695 A.D): He also was a Chinese visitor and has described various Buddhist monks in the biographies written by him.

XuanZang (630 A.D): He stayed almost 15 years after visiting India and came in the time of Harsha Vardhana. He identified the caste system and wrote a book named “Si-Yu-Ki ” or “The records of the western world”.

Al Samudi (957 A.D): He was an Arabian traveller and “Muruj-al-Zahab” was his book where he wrote about the Indian religious-political and economic history.

Marco polo (A.D1292-94): he was an Italian explorer cum trader who visited Southern India when Rudramma Devi of Kakatiyas was in power. He also visited South India in the time of “Pandyan Ruler” of “Kulasekhara”, “Madurai” and “Madverman”. The economic consequence of India was found in the book “The Book of Sir Marco Polo” written by him. 

Al beruni (1024-1030 A.D): He was a Persian student and was the first scholar who was a Muslim and he studied in India. He stepped foot in India with Mahmud Ghazni and wrote “Tahqiq-i-Hind”.

Ibn Battuta (1333-1342): He was a Moroccan traveller who came to India during the time of “Muhammad-Bin-Tughlaq”. Tughlaq appointed him as a judge at that time and the administrative reforms are described in the book “The travels”.

Abdur Razzaq(A.D1443-1444): He was the messenger of Shahrukh of the “Timurid Dynasty” and was Persian traveller. He visited India in the time of “Devaraya II” of the “Vijaynagar Empire”. The life events in Calicut under the Zamorin and the life in the ancient Vijayanagar at Hampi were written in the book “Matla-us-Sadain wa Majma-ul-Bahrain”.

John Hughen Van Linschotten (1583 A.D.): He was a Dutch traveller and described the economic and social life of the people of South India.

William Hawkins (1608 to 1611): he was sent to the Mughal palace of Jahangeer by British King James I. He led the first voyage of the English East India Company in 1609, although could not get the permission to start a factory.

Sir Thomas Roe (1615-1619): King James I of England sent him as an ambassador to Jahangir the great Mughal Emperor. He came to pursue security for the English factory at Surat.

Nicolao Manucci (1653-1708): he was a traveller who got a place in the chateau of “Dara Shikoh”.


From the above discussion, it can be concluded that various “foreign travellers” have come to India in order to travel, get an impression of the economic, political, social and religious traditions. They have come to India and get mesmerised by the beauty and prosperity of India. Some of the travellers came to take permission from the current ruler to start their trade with India and set factories in the port regions of India. They have written books about the religious beliefs of Indian people. We come to know interesting facts about ancient India from their writings.