Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Two Englishmen Who Walked to Mughal India

I'm reading about early travelers to India, and they were actually quite a few.
John Mildenhall (or Midnall) set out from Constantinople (Istanbul) to Aleppo in the March of 1600, and then left with an entourage of 600 people, heading for Lahore in today's Pakistan (then part of the Moghul Empire) where he arrived in 1603. He was a bit of a trickster and tried to rip off the British East India Company, which however manage to capture him and bring him to Isfahan in Iran, but let go (without his merchandise though). He returned to India, where he initially was successful.
"Mildenhall reached the court of the Mughal Emperor Akbar and held discussions with him. However, he was regarded as an outlaw by the British East India Company whose exports to the Levant he had diverted to India. Moreover, his journey was not sponsored by the Company. Hence, the British East India Company sent Sir William Hawkins to India in pursuit of Mildenhall and to declare all his dealings null and void." (Wikipedia)  He got sick and died in 1614. He was buried in the Roman Catholic cemetery in Agra, a city that is best known for the Taj Mahal.

Thomas Coryat (c. 1577 – 1617) was another long-distance walker from England. In 1608 he traveled around Europe, often by foot, and collected his experiences in a book with the ironic title Coryat's Crudities hastily gobbled up in Five Months Travels in France, Italy, &c (1611). Coryat was an educated man and managed to land a job "court jester" for Prince Henry, the oldest son of James I. The book was so well received and he wrote a second one the same year, Coryats Crambe, or his Coleworte twice Sodden.

In 1612 he walked to India by way of Greece, Turkey, Persia and Afghanistan, which in those days belonged to the Mughal Empire. He never had a chance to write a book about this his fantastic journey, because in 1617 he died of dysentery in Gujarat. His letters were however published in 1616 under the title Greetings from the Court of the Great Mogul. In 1625, some more of his writings were published as part of 
Samuel Purchas's book Hakluytus Posthumus or Purchas his Pilgrimes, contayning a History of the World in Sea Voyages and Lande Travells, by Englishmen and others.

Source: Wikipedia

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