The accounts of the Chinese and Arab travellers are important sources for reconstructing the history of India. Some of their contributions are:
- They provide information on the political, social, cultural, religious and economic aspects of India that are not available in other sources.
- They offer a comparative perspective on India and its neighbours, highlighting the similarities and differences in various fields.
- They reflect the interactions and exchanges between India and other regions, such as trade, diplomacy, pilgrimage, education and migration.
- They reveal the impressions and opinions of foreign visitors on India’s achievements, challenges, diversity and uniqueness.
Some examples of Chinese and Arab travellers who left valuable accounts are:
- Fa-Hien: A Buddhist monk who visited India during the Gupta period. He described the political stability, religious tolerance, social welfare and monastic life under Gupta rule.
- Hieun Tsang: A Buddhist scholar who visited India during the reign of Harshavardhana. He gave detailed accounts of the geography, history, culture, education and Buddhism of various regions. He also recorded his interactions with Harshavardhana and other kings.
- Al-Biruni: A polymath who accompanied Mahmud of Ghazni to India. He wrote a comprehensive book on India’s sciences, religions, languages, customs and history. He also compared Indian knowledge with Greek and Islamic knowledge.
- Ibn Battuta: A Moroccan traveller who visited India during the Delhi Sultanate. He narrated his experiences as a judge, diplomat and traveller under Muhammad bin Tughlaq. He also described the political turmoil, cultural diversity, urban life and religious practices of India.