Class 12 History Part 2 Theme 5 notes, history notes , class 12 notes, history-theme-5-notes
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NCERT Class 12 History Part 2 Theme 5 notes by Vibha Maam | Through the Eyes of Travellers | Precise Notes

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Checkout handpicked notes of NCERT class 12 History part 2 Theme 5 notes (Through the Eyes of Travellers – Perceptions of Society 10th to 17th Century) by Vibha Madam, and don’t forget to share your valuable comments in the comment below to motivate our author.


  • People travelled in search of work as traders, merchants, soldiers , priests, pilgrims or in a sense of adventure .
  • Most of the travellers who came to India wrote their accounts.
  • The account of these travellers dealt with various aspects about landscape or physical environment, customs, languages, beliefs and practices of people.

Class 12 History Part 2 Theme 5 notes, history notes , class 12 notes, history-theme-5-notes

  • Some dealt with affairs of the court, while others focused on religious issues, architectural features and monuments.
  • Some travellers are prominent whose accounts provided the knowledge of social life of our past during 10th to 17th century, like Al Biruni, Ibn Battuta, Francois Bernier.


Al-Biruni (11th century)

  • Al-Biruni was born in 973 at Khwarizm in Uzbekistan.
  • He was familiar with the work of Plato and other Greek philosophers .
  • Mahmud of Ghazni invaded Khwarizm in 1017.
  • He took several scholars and poets back to Ghazni. He also took Al- Biruni as a hostage to Ghazni.
  • In Ghazni, Al-Biruni developed an interest in India .
  • He did contact with local people, priests,Brahman and scholars.

Features of ‘Kitab ul Hind’

  • The’ Kitab ul Hind’ is an arabic book written by Al Biruni .
  • It is a voluminous text and divided into 80 chapters.
  • Each chapter is beginning with the question, then description and concluding with the comparison with other cultures.
  • This book consists of work from fables to astronomy and medicine.

Al-Biruni’s view about Indian society

  • According to Al-Biruni’s description, India’s economic condition was very good.
  • According to Al Barauni ,Sanskrit was so different from Arabic and Persian that ideas  and concepts could not be translated easily from one language to another.
  • Al-Biruni depended on the Vedas, the puranas ,the Bhagavad-Gita, the work of Patanjali ,the Manusmriti etc.
  • Al-Biruni tried to explain the caste system. He tried to suggest that social division was not unique to India and the caste system was not quite so rigid .He disapproved of the notion of pollution.

Ibn Battuta (14th century)

  • He was born in Tangier( Morocco) in a reputed and educated family who had known for their expertise in Islamic religious law or Sharia.
  • He was fond of travelling and wanted to increase his knowledge by establishing his contact with the people of different countries.
  • He travelled thirty years of his life. He travelled North Africa, West Asia ,Central Asia, the Indian subcontinent  and China.
  • Ibn Battuta reached Sind in1333 through a land route .
  • He came to India in the reign of Muhammad bin Tughlaq came to Delhi passing through Multan and Uch.
  • The Sultan was impressed by his scholarship and appointed him the Quzi of Delhi.
  • He was restored to imperial service after clearance of misunderstanding.
  • He was sent to China in 1342 as the sultan’s envoy to the Mughal ruler.
  • Ibn Battuta stayed 18 months as a qazi in Maldives.
  • He went to China through Malabar ,Maldives, Malabar, Bengal, Assam, Sumatra and the port of China Zaytun (Quanzhou) then Beijing.
  • He returned to Morocco in 1347.
  • While travelling from Multan to Delhi his caravan was attacked and he was severely wounded.
  • His account is often compared with Marco Polo( late 13th century).

According to him travel 

  • from Multan to Delhi = 40 days 
  • from Sind to Delhi = 50 days 
  • from Daulatabad to Delhi = 40days 
  • from Gwalior to Delhi = 10 days

Battuta’s description of Indian society

  • While describing Indian society explain the unfamiliar things like Coconut and Paan in a unique way.
  • He found the cities of India densely populated and prosperous like Delhi, Daulatabad.
  • The bazaars were the places of economic transactions and also the hub of social and cultural activities.
  • He found Indian agriculture very productive and farmers grow two crops in a year.
  • Indian textiles were in great demand.
  • He was amazed by the efficiency of the postal system which was of the two kinds the horse post called “Uluq” and foot post called “Dava“.


Francois Bernier: A doctor with the difference (1656) 17th century

  • Portuguese arrived in India in about 1500.
  • Jesuit Robert Nobili translated Indian text into European language.
  • Duarte Barbosa wrote a detailed account of trade and society in South India.
  • After 1600, French traveller (jeweller) jean-Baptiste Tavernier travelled India at least 6 times.
  • He compared India( trade) to Iran and the Ottoman Empire.
  • Italian doctor Mannuci settled down in India.
  • A Frenchman, Francois  Burnier was a doctor, political philosopher and historian.
  •  He came to the Mughal Empire in search of opportunities .
  • He lived in India for 12 years from 1656 to 1668.
  • He was appointed as a physician of Dara Shikoh (the eldest son of Shahjahan )and later as an intellectual and scientist with an Armenian Nobel with Danishmand Khan.
  • He compared Mughal Indian with Europe and generally emphasized the superiority of the latter.
  • He dedicated his major accounts to France King Louis xiv.
  • Bernier’s works were published in France in 1670-71 and translated into English Dutch, German and Italian within the next five years. 
  • His account was reprinted 8Times in French in between 1670- 1725 and three times in English in 1684.

 The question of land ownership

  • He wrote his famous book ‘Travels in the Mughal court’.
  • According to Bernier, one of the fundamental differences between Mughal India and Europe, was the lack of private property (crown ownership of land) .
  • He thought that in the Mughal Empire the emperor owned all the land and distributed it among his nobles .
  • Bernier confidently asserted,” there is no middle state in India “.
  • Abu Fazl ,the 16th century official chronicler of Akbar’s reign describes the land revenue as “Remuneration of Sovereignty”.
  • The French philosopher Montesquieu, used his account to develop the idea of oriental despotism.
  • This idea was further developed as the concept of the Asiatic mode of production by Karl Marx in the 19th century.

A more complex social reality 

  • He felt that artisans had no incentive to improve the quality of their manufactures, since profits were appropriate by the state.
  • During the 17th century about 15% of the population lived in towns.
  • Bernier described Mughal cities as” Camp towns” .
  • There were all kinds of towns: manufacturing towns ,trading towns, port towns, sacred centres, pilgrimage towns etc.
  • Merchants often had strong communities in western India, these group were called ‘Mahajan’ and their chief called ‘the Seth’.
  • Other urban groups included professional classes such as Physicians (Hakim or Vaidh), teachers (Pandit or Mulla), lawyers (wakil), painters, architects, musicians, calligraphers etc.

 Bernier’s view about contemporary society (about women and slaves life)

  • He wrote about the practice of ‘Sati‘. He noted that while some women seemed to embrace death cheerfully, others were forced to die.
  • Women’s labour was crucial in both agriculture and non agricultural production.
  • Women from merchant families participated in commercial activities.
  • Slaves were generally used for domestic labour.
  • Slaves were openly sold in markets with horses, camels and other commodities.



Image source– Some of the images is from the book Themes in Indian History Part-II {History class 12th}

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2 years ago

really appreciable 👌

2 years ago

knowledgeable n attractive

2 years ago

thanks for providing such a value added notes

2 years ago

nice content

2 years ago

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authors of this website are really dedicated and hard working
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2 years ago

Superb maam👌

Himanshu Kumar
Himanshu Kumar
2 years ago

Thanks for this awesome notes mam your Notes are very helpful for us once again thanks to provide us…🙏🙏🙏🙏

2 years ago


2 years ago

Great job mam

2 years ago

Wonderful notes mam

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