Foreign travellers in Ancient and Medieval India

Foreign travellers in Ancient and Medieval India
Megasthenes: First Notable Greek Traveller to India
India has fascinated the world since the time immemorial. Christopher Colombus, who is credited with the discovery of the America, was actually looking for India. Such is the enigma of India. He is not alone. There are many like him. Their stories and accounts can help one to understand the India's Past viz. polity, economics, culture, society, religion and other things. 

Megasthenes (around 305 BC - 298 BC)
1. He was the ambassador of Seculus I of the Seleucid dynasty to Chandragupta Maurya.
2. Chandragupta Maurya was known as Sandrocottus to the Greeks.
3. Megasthenes was author of the critical book ‘Indica’.
4. There was no mention of Alexander by any Indian historian or writer of that time.

Deimachus (around 295 BC - 275 BC)
1. He was the Greek ambassador to Bindusara, son of Chandragupta Maurya.
2. Bindusara was known as the "Allitrochades" to the Greeks.
3. The accounts of Deimachus are now lost, but some of his writing in quote form can be read through other sources.

Dionysius (around 265 BC - 245 BC)
1. He was the Greek ambassador to Ashoka sent by Ptolemy Philadelphus.
2. His writings are lost and he finds the mention only by Pliny the Great.

Faxian (399 AD - 412 AD)
1. He visited India during Chandragupta II (Vikramaditya).
2. He visited Lumbini, the birth place of  Buddha.
3. He described his journey in his travelogoue as “Record of Buddhist Kingdoms”.
4. He is also known as Fa-Hien.

Xuanzang (629 AD - 645 AD)
1. He became famous for his seventeen year journey in India.
2. He recorded his journey in his book Great Tang Records on the Western Regions.
3. He visited the court of Harshavardhna.
4. He is also known as Hiuen Tsang.

Al-Biruni (1017 AD - 1030 AD)
1. He came along Mahmud of Ghajini.
2. He was the first Muslim scholar to study aspects of India.
3. He is known as the founder of Indology.
4. He got the moniker "al-Ustadh" for his works on India.

Marco Polo (1288 AD - 1292 AD)
1. He visited Kakatiya state under the rule of Rudramadevi.

Ibn Battuta (1333 AD - 1341 AD)
1. Ibn Battuta and his party reached the Indus River on 12 September 1333.
2. From there, he embarked on his journey to Delhi and met Muhammad bin Tughlaq.
3. He was appointed Qadi by Muhammad bin Tughlaq.
4. He wrote extensively about his travels in Rihla.

Nicolo Conti (1420 AD - 1421 AD)
1. He came during the rule of Devraya I of Vijayanagar empire.
2. He called the Tamil language as the "Italian of the East".
3. He also visited the cemetery of Thomas the Apostle.
4. He again visited India during 1430s on his way back home.

Abdul Razzaq (1442-1445)
1. He is the ambassador of Shahrukh of Timurid Dynasty.
2. He visited the Calicut (or now known as Kozhikode),
2. He came during the rule of Devaraya II of Vijayanagar empire.

Afanasy Nikitin (1468-1474)
1. He was Russian merchant.
2. He documented details of his journey in his book "The journey beyond 3 seas".
3. He met the Bahamani sultanate.
4. He visited a pagoda at Perwattum, which he called "the Jerusalem of the non-Christians".

Domnigo Paes (1520-1522)
1. He was the first potuguese traveller in India.
2. He visited the Vijayanagara Empire under the rule of Krishna Deva Raya.
3. He gave an extensive record of Vijayanagara state in his Chronica dos reis de Bisnaga (Chronicle of the Vijayanagar kings).

Fernão Nunes (1535-1537)
1. He was the second Portuguese traveler who visited Vijayanagara.
2. He spent three years in Vijayanagara.
3. His works shed the light on construction works in Vijayanagara empire.

William Hawkins (1609-1611)
1. He was a representative of the British East India Company.
2. He travelled to Agra to negotiate consent for a factory from Emperor Jahangir in 1609.
3. He was the commander of the British East India Company ship Hector.

Thomas Roe (1615-1619)
1. He was the British ambassador and reprented England in Mughal Empire during 1615-1619.
2. He succeeded in getting two farmans confirming free trade.

This is not a complete list. There are many names which could be added to the list like St. Thomas who came to India around 15 AD and never left; Cheng Hi who visited India during 1421-31; and Anthony Monserrate who visited India during the reign of Akbar, and there are names which have lost in the times, for example writer of Periplus of the Eretherean Sea. Covering all these names is a bit difficult.
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