Kerala Plus Two History Notes Chapter 5 Through the Eyes of Travellers
1. The notes of the travellers are an important source for studying the history of middle ages. Many travellers visited different parts of India, They had various goals.
2. In the notes of these travellers there are descriptions of Indian social life. These notes have enriched our knowledge of the past. In this chapter, we are trying to learn more about the middle period from the writings of the travellers.
We are especially considering the writing of three. One is Al-Biruni, who came to India from Uzbekistan in the 11th century. The 2nd is Ibn Battuta who came from Morocco in North-Western Africa in the 14th century. The 3rd one is Francois Bernier, a French traveller who came here in the 17th century.
3. Al-Biruni was born at Khwarism in Uzbekistan. Khwarism was an important centre of knowledge and so he got the best education possible. He was a linguist – a scholar in many languages. He knew Syriac, Arabic, Persian, Hebrew and Sanskrit. He was not familiar with Greek. But he had read the books of Plato and Other Geek philosophers through Arabic translations.
4. Ibn Battuta was an Arab traveller. He was born in Tangier in Morocco in 1304 and he died in 1368. His travelogue ‘Rihla’is written in Arabic. This book gives very interesting and extensive descriptions of the social and cultural life in India in the 14th century.
5. Francois Bernier was a French traveller. He was a doctor, political thinker and historian. He came to the Mughal Empire seeking opportunities. He stayed in India for 12 years, from 1656 to 1668.
He was closely associated with the Mughal capital. He was the physician of Dara Shuko who was the eldest son of Shahjahan. He also worked with a wealthy American named Danishmand Khan when he was in the capital.
6. Ibn Battuta and Bernier wrote their notes with different viewpoints. Ibn Battuta was attracted by the novelty of everything he saw. He wrote about all those things that interested him. But Bernier was quite different. He tried to compare India with France and look for any contradictions.
7. The travelogues of these people give us very interesting and enthusiastic views about the life of the people at that time. They are very precious. But, at the same time, their descriptions had their limitations.
Their views were formulated by their attitudes which developed from the circumstances from which they came. They had failed to notice .some aspects of social life.
8. Many Indians also were adventurous enough to visit other countries grossing the seas and the mountains. But their writings have not been preserved for posterity.
Some Travellers and their Writings
- 973-1048: Al-Biruni from Uzbekistan
- 1254-1323: Marco Polo from Italy
- 1304-1377: Ibn Battuta from Morocco
- 1413-1482: Abdul Razak Samarkhandi, from Samarkand
- 1466-1472: Afanasy Nikitic Nikitin from Russia
- 1518: Barbosa from Portugal visited India
- 1562: Said Ali Riz from Turkey. He died that year.
- 1563-1600: Antonio Moriserrate from Spain
- 1616-31: Mahmud Vali Balki
Lived In India
- 1600-67: Peter Moonly from England
- 1605-89: Jean-Baptist Tavernier from France
- 1620-88: Francois Bernier from France