Foreign Travelers in Ancient Kerala: Study Notes

Important Foreign Travelers who reached Kerala in Ancient times and gives valuable information on kerala history.

Traveler
Region
/Country
Notes
Megasthenes
Greece
• First foregin traveler who gives references to ancient Kerala.
• He mentions Kerala as ‘Cherme’ in his book Indica.
St. Thomas
Rome
• Reached Kerala in AD.52 to spread the Christian faith
• One of the Twelve Apostles of Jesus Christ.
• He is believed to have established Ezharappallikal or Seven and Half Churches in Kerala. These churches are at Kodungallur, Palayoor, Kottakkavu (Paravur), Niranam, Kokkamangalam, Nilackal (Chayal), Kollam and Thiruvithamcode (half church).
Sulaiman al-Tajir
Persia
• Reached Kerala in 9th Century.
• Mentioned Kollam as ‘Male’.
Abu Zaid
Persia
• Arab writer who made references to Kerala in the 10th century
Rabbi Benjamin
Spain
• First European traveler to give detailed mentions on Kollam.
• He reached Venad in 1167 during the reign of Adithya Varma.
• Mentioned Kollam as ‘Chulam
Marco Polo
Italy
• Reached Kerala in 1292
• Mentioned Kollam as ‘Kiulan’.
Friar Odoric
Italy
• He was an Italian missionary explorer who reached Kollam in 1322
• Mentioned Kollam as ‘Polumbum’
Friar Jordanus

• Reached Kerala in AD 1321,1324
Became the first Bishop of Diocese of Kollam
• Mentioned Kollam as ‘Columbum
• He established the St.George church at Quilon.
• First foreign traveler who gives account on ‘Marumakkathayam’ system in Kerala in his book ‘Mirabilia Descriptia’.
Ibn Batuta
Morocco
• Mentions Kollam as Caulum and Kozhikode as Calikooth .
• Reached Kerala in 14th Century
John Di Marignollo
Florence
• He reached Kollam in 1347 on his way from Europe to China.
• Christian Missionary
Nicolo Conti
Venice
• Venetian merchant and explorer.
• First European to mention Kochi
Ma-Huan
China
• Reached Kerala in 15th century.
• First foreign traveler to write on Kochi.
•  Gives valuable description on Calicut port
Duarte Barbosa
Portugese
• Portugese Writer.
• In 1503 he was the interpreter of Francisco de Albuquerque in contacts with the Rajah of Cannanore.
• He was the first foreign traveler to write on Pula pedi, Manna pedi.

Master Ralph Fitch
England
• Merchant of London who was among the first Englishmen tovisit Cochin.
• Reached Kerala in 1590.
• He refers to pepper trade in Kollam
St. Bartholomew
Austria
• He was sent in 1774 as missionary to Malabar.
• He was known in Kerala as Paulinus Paathiri.
• Author of first edition of the first Sanskrit grammar to be published in Europe.
• Prepared Portuguese- Malayalam dictionary on request of Karthika Tirunal Rama Varma Rajah of Travancore.



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