Foreign Travellers Who Visited India
India has been a centre of attraction and fascination for tourists worldwide since ancient times because of its customs, faiths, rich culture, and other national offerings. Most foreign travellers who visited India wrote about the country from their perspective and understanding. Some wrote about the monuments and architecture, while others penned down India’s economic and social life. Some of the ancient travellers to India were as follows-
- Ptolemy (130 A.D.)
- Deimachos (320-273 BC)
- Fa-Hien (Chinese) in 405-411 AD when Gupta Empire was ruling India.
- Hiuen Tsang (Chinese) in 630-645 AD during the rule of Harshavardhana
- I-Tsing (Chinese)
- Al-Masudi (Arab)
- Al-Biruni (Khwarazm)
List of Foreign Travellers Who Visited India
The Indian subcontinent has experienced voyages from travellers worldwide from time immemorial. Here is the list of the important foreign travellers who visited India, along with the details of their visit and major contributions.
Ancient Travellers to India
Details of Foreign Travellers Who Visited India
3rd Century B.C.
Deimachos was Seleucid Empire’s Greek from the 3rd century BC. He worked as the ambassador to Bindusars’s court (he was the son of Chandragupta Maurya and the Mauryan Empire's second ruler).
Megasthenes was Seleucus’s ambassador who visited the country when India was under Chandragupta Mauryan’s supremacy. On his visit to India, he wrote a book called INDICA based on India. He introduced Chandragupta Mauryan as ‘SANDROCOTTUS.’
He was a Buddhist monk from China who came to India during Chandragupta II (Vikramaditya) reign. On his tour to India, he visited Lumbini, i.e., Buddha’s birthplace. His travelogue was called “Records of Buddhist Kingdom.”
Hiuen Tsang was another Buddhist monk from China who came to India during Harsha Vardhana’s supremacy. He wrote “the Records of Western World”, also called Si-Yu-Ki. He was called to King Harshavardhan’s court after becoming a guest to the Kamarupa ruler, Bhaskar Varman.
I-Tsing visited India during the reign of Harshavardhana. He was a traveller from China who came to India because he called for Buddhism. He wrote various biographies on the monks of India.
Al Masudi was a traveller who visited India from Arab in the middle of 10the century A.D. He described his views on India in his book, Muruj-ul-Zehab.
Al Beruni (Abu Rehman Mahamud)
Along with Mahmud of Ghazni, Al Beruni visited India. He was a Persian scholar (the first Muslim 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 Polo came during the reign of Rudramma Devi of 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.
He travelled to India from Moroccan in the 14th century during the reign of Mohammed Bin Tughlaq and wrote “RIHLA.”
Nicolo was a merchant from Italy who came to India while Devraya I of the Sangam dynasty of the Vijayanagar Empire was ruling.
He was a Persian scholar. He was also an ambassador of Persia. He visited during the reign of Dev Raya II of the Vijaynagar empire.
Duarte Barbosa was a Portuguese traveller who visited India in the early 16th century. His writings include the Vijayanagar empire’s people and government.
William Hawkins visited India during Jahangir’s reign. He was the ambassador of James I of England.
Thomas Roe also visited India during Jahangir’s reign. He was an English diplomat who visited India to request for protection of the factory set up by the English at Surat. He wrote a Journal of the Mission to the Mughal Empire had a great contribution to Indian History.
Francois was a physician and scholar from France. His patron was Daneshmand Khan, a noble at Aurangzeb's court.
Arab Travellers To India
Sulaimān at-Tājir: The first Arab traveller to India was Sulaimān at-Tājir. He is one of the foreign travellers who visited India. He was a Muslim writer, traveller, and merchant from Siraf (presently known as Iran). He travelled to China and Bengal (India) in 850 A.D and penned down his voyages. He is considered an important part of Indian history for travelling to Tang China, Guangzhou in 851 A.D.
Al-Masudi: Al-Masudi visited India in 957 A.D. He was a historian and traveller from the Arab who is called the Herodotus of the Arabs. He was the first traveller from the Arab who mixed the idea of scientific geography and history. He explained his journey to India in his book Muruj-ul-Zehab he has explained his journey.