Ibn Batuta, (also spelt Battuta) (1305-1369) - short for Abu Abdullah Muhammad Ibn Batuta - was an intrepid Arab traveler of the 14th century from Morocco, who visited India number of times during his extensive journeys. He covered a distance of hundred thousand kilometers - spanning India, Russia, Persia, China and Spain - an astounding feat in those days. The notes that Ibn Batuta made on his experiences - called 'Rihla', literally meaning 'My Travels' - provide invaluable information on the lands, customs and beliefs of people and countries, mostly unknown and exotic till then. Part fictional, this travelogue contains insightful views on the manners and matters of as many as 30 countries.
People and places he visited while on his pilgrimage to Mecca for Haj fascinated Ibn Batuta enough to start off on his lifetime of travel. His travels north of Baghdad took him to Persia, the Black Sea and in time, as far as Bukhara and Samarkand. He crossed over to India from Afghanistan through the mountain passes. Ibn Batuta was the first to refer to the Hindu Kush Mountains, by that name, in the records on his travel. He came to Delhi
and stayed here for several years as a courtier of
Muhammad bin Tughlaq
. His journeys took him to the southern coast of India, to Kozhikode
. He lived for a while here as a courtier of the Zamorin
who ruled the land.
In contrast to Marco Polo whose primary interest in travel was commercial, Ibn Batuta traveled out of his genuine interest in the distant and unknown. He traversed more than thrice the distance covered by Marco Polo.