List of Foreign Travellers Who Visited India - Ancient, Chinese, Arab Travellers to India PDF

By K Balaji|Updated : January 8th, 2023

The Foreign Travellers Who Visited India comprise travellers from Arab, China, Italy, England, etc. These ancient travellers appreciated the culture and beauty of India from different time frames and penned it down in the form of travelogues, books, documents, and poetry. Thus, these foreign travellers form an essential part of Indian history. The foreign travellers who visited India had also penned numerous books on India which has become an eminent part of its history.

A complete list of travellers and foreigners visiting India is given below. The first foreigner to visit India was Megasthenes, who was the ambassador of Seleucus Nikator and later wrote a book, Indica, about his visit. Check the list of foreign travellers who visited India, what attracted them, and the time of their visit.

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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

Timeline

Details of Foreign Travellers Who Visited India

Deimachos

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

302-298 B.C.

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.’

Fa Hein

405-411 A.D.

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

630-645 AD

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

671-695 AD

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

957 AD

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)

1024-1030 AD

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

1292-1294 AD

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.

Ibn Batuta

1333-1347 AD

He travelled to India from Moroccan in the 14th century during the reign of Mohammed Bin Tughlaq and wrote “RIHLA.”

Nicolo Conii

1420-1421 AD

Nicolo was a merchant from Italy who came to India while Devraya I of the Sangam dynasty of the Vijayanagar Empire was ruling.

Abdul Razak

1443-1444 AD

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

1500-1516 AD

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

1608-1611 AD

William Hawkins visited India during Jahangir’s reign. He was the ambassador of James I of England.

Thomas Roe

1615-1619 AD

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 Bernier

1656-1717 AD

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.

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FAQs on Foreign Travellers Who Visited India

  • The important Foreign travellers who visited India were Deimachos, Megasthenes, Fa Hein, Hiuen Tsang, I-Tsing, Al Masudi, Al Beruni (Abu Rehman Mahamud), Macro Polo, Ibn Batuta, Nicolo Conii, Abdul Razak, Duarte Barbosa, William Hawkins, Thomas Roe, Francois Bernier, etc.

    DownloadForeign Travellers Who Visited India UPSC PDF

  • Most foreign travellers who visited India noted their understanding of India’s rich culture, customs, faith, and other national offerings that determined India’s economic and social life. Thus, they helped to determine the ancient and medieval history of India.

  • The first foreigner who visited India was Deimachos. He was a Greek from the Seleucid Empire who worked as an Ambassador to the court of Bindusar (Mauryan’s second ruler). He came to India in the 3rd century B.C.

  • The first Arab Traveller to India was Sulaimān at-Tājir. He was a merchant, writer, and traveller from Siraf (Iran) who travelled to China and India (Bengal and neighbouring states). He wrote about his voyage to India and China in 850 A. D.

  • The famous Chinese travellers who visited India were Fa Hein (405-411 A.D.), Hiuen Tsang (630-645 AD), and I-Tsing (671-695 AD). Among these ancient travellers, Hiuen Tsang visited India during King Harshavardha Harsha I’s reign. He is also called the Prince of Pilgrims.

  • Macro Polo visited India between 1292-1294 AD. He was a European Scholar who visited South India during the reign of Rudramma Devi of Kakatiyas. He wrote “THE BOOK OF SIR MARCO POLO.” This book gives an invaluable account of Indian economic history.

  • Some of the essential books written by Foreign travellers who visited India during ancient and medieval times are INDICA, Records of Buddhist Kingdom, the Records of Western World, Muruj-ul-Zehab, Tahqiqi-e-Hind, The Book of Sir Macro Polo, Rihla, etc.

  • Nicolao Manucci was a foreign traveller who visited India during the rule of Shahjahan. He illustrated the Mughal court in his book “ Storia do Mogor”. He gained knowledge of the Mughal court. It was an eminent part of history during the rule of Shahjahan and Aurangzeb.

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  • Fa-Hien is a Chinese traveller who visited India during the rule of the Gupta period. He visited the empire during the rule of Chandragupta Maurya. He was highly influenced by the administrative reforms of the Chandragupta Maurya and the economic upliftment of the territories such as Pataliputra and Magadha. He visited India in 405-411 AD. He was Buddhist monk. He penned “ Records of Buddhist Kingdom”.

  • Nicolo Coni visited India during the rule of Sangam dynasty in the Vijayanagara Empire. He visited India during 1420-1421 AD. He was a merchant of Italy. The foreign traveller illustrated the fortifications persisting in the city. He also mentioned that many men were employed in the army.

  • The list of most famous foreign travellers who visited India were Ibn Battuta, Fa-Hien, and Marco Polo. Ibn Batuta visited India in 1333-1347 AD during the rule of Mohammad Bin Tughlaq. He penned Rihla. Fa-Hien was a Buddhist monk who visited India during the rule of the Gupta Empire in 405-411 AD. Marco Polo was a visitor of India during the rule of Rudramma Devi of Kakatiyas. He penned “The book of Sir Marco Polo” which illustrates Indian Economic History.

  • The first foreign traveller who visited India was Megasthenes. He was ambassador of Seleucus. He visited India when Mauryan Empire was enlightened with supremacy. He called Chandragupta Maurya as the “Sandrocottus”. His visit to India was marked in the 302-298 B.C.

  • During the medieval period, India possessed numerous spices, metals, gems, ivory, textiles, and sandalwoods which were in high demand in foreign countries. These were the factors of major attraction to foreigners. They sold these items in their countries at surged prices, hence India was an attractive place for travellers from Arab, Iran, Portuguese etc

  • Foreign travellers from English, Portuguese, Iran visited India attracted by the riches of spices, and sandalwood, to surge their trade in the residing countries. The list of foreign travellers who visited India in the medieval period is as listed below-

    • Hiuen Tsang
    • Al-Masudi
    • Nicolo Coni
    • William Jawkins
    • Thomas Roe
    • Francois Bernier

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