India has always been the dream destination for people who want to explore one of the earliest civilizations in the world. Since time immemorial, India has received a number of keen travelers who came here and fell in love with its traditions and colors.
Hiuen Tsang from China (629-645)
One of the earliest and the most celebrated travelers to India, Hiuen Tsang came from China to India in search of Buddhist belief and practice. He has been described as the “prince of pilgrims” and his accounts carry a lot of information on the political, social and religious set up of India. Hiuen Tsang visited Kashmir, Punjab and proceeded to Kapilavastu, Bodh-Gaya, Sarnath, and Kusinagara. He studied in the University of Nalanda and travelled through the Deccan, Orissa and Bengal. Since he stayed in India for 14 long years, his accounts reflect what ancient India must have been once.
Megasthenes was a famous Foreign Envoy and ambassador of Seleucus Nikator of Syria . He visited the Chandragupta Maurya (Sandrokottos) court. He wrote the great book Indica which explains the reign of Chandragupta Maurya. He explained Social and administrative status at the time of Mauryas. Megasthenes was the first foreign envoy who visited India.
Fa-Hien is a Foreign Envoy who visited India at the time of Chandragupta II, known as Vikramaditya. He was a Chinese pilgrim. Fa-Hien was the first Chinese pilgrim to visit India. Fa-Hien came to India to collect Buddhist texts and relics. Fa-Hien visited Lumbini, the Buddha’s birth place. He compiled his experiences in a travelogue “Record of Buddhistic Kingdoms”.
Al Beruni from Persia (1000-1025)
Al Beruni was an Islamic scholar who was “commissioned” by Mahmud of Ghazni to write his monumental commentary on Indian philosophy and culture Kitab fi tahqiq ma li’l-hind. In the words of the historians today, “His observations on Indian conditions, systems of knowledge, social norms, religion … are probably the most incisive made by any visitor to India.” Born in Uzbekistan, this traveler remained in India for thirteen long years to understand its culture and literature.
Ibn Battuta from Morocco (1333)
Its unbelievable that a person could have traveled so much in times where no travelling paraphernalia was available. Meet Ibn Battuta who had a passion for travel unparalleled in history, inimitable by any individual. It is hard to believe that Ibn Battuta journeyed more than 75,000 miles (121,000 km), a figure unsurpassed by any individual explorer until the coming of the Steam Age some 450 years later. He was the only medieval traveller who is known to have visited the lands of every Muslim ruler of his time. His journeys include trips to North Africa, West Africa, Southern Europe and Eastern Europe in the West, Middle East, South Asia, Central Asia, Southeast Asia and China in the East, a distance surpassing threefold his near-contemporary Marco Polo.
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