India was known to Europe from the time immemorial and Indian merchandize like spices, musk, linen, precious stones, etc. found a lucrative market in Europe since the time of the Romans. Trade and commerce with India were carried on through merge with India were carried on through the Middle East, the sea routes begin fully controlled by the Arab navigators. European nations like the Portuguese, the Dutch, the French and the English had, therefore, been trying since the early medieval period to establish direct contact with India and neighbouring countries, chiefly with two objectives in view-trade in Indias rich commodities and the spread of Christianity. The European nations mentioned above are better known to the East as the exploiters of wealth, usurpers of the political power of the local rulers and ruthless oppressors of the people. But it must be borne in mind that the contact and confrontation of India with the Western races mark the beginning of modern India. Hence the history of this contact is very important for proper understanding of India of the nineteenth and the twentieth centuries. The history of their expansion of power and subsequent rule for centuries is, no doubt, interesting but more fascinating are the stories of the first coming of the white races into regions inhabited by people of a different type. The author of the present work has described the adventures of the first explorers from the West and while doing so has also given his readers some idea of the scenery, animals, vegetations and the people of the new lands through which these pioneers passed. These stories tell us the lives and adventures of some of very enterprising and daring persons. The work is a record of a variety of exciting incidents and many a strange and charming glimpse of oriental life. The work includes; inter alia, the travels of Ludovico di varthema, an early sixteenth century Italian explorer who visited many places in South India and Ceylon. The work also includes the stories of the first appearance of the Portuguese, the French, and the English on the Eastern scene and their rivalries for supremacy. It presents a vivid picture of the life of the people of India, and Ceylon and Indonesia-both of the aristocracy and of the common masses. The descriptions cover royal grandeur, religious practices, food habits, costumes, social conditions, civil administration, military organizations, agriculture, trade and commerce, etc. of the middle ages. Some of the narratives retold from the original accounts of the travellers may not be historically true, some of the assessments of the oriental religions and social customs may be either prejudiced or results of gross ignorance on the part of the foreigners, at quite a few places, the work suffers from ludicrous exaggerations, but on the whole the work is both informative and interesting. The value of the work has been enhanced with several black and white illustrations and maps.
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