History- Important places, persons in news

Travellers quoted in Ayodhya judgment


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Read the attached story

Mains level : Accounts of various travellers in India

  • In the Ayodhya judgment delivered the Supreme Court relied in part on centuries-old travelogues, gazetteers and books to provide an account of the faith and belief of various parties involved in the case.
  • The travelogues that the court took note of included, among others, those by the European travellers Joseph Tieffenthaler, William Finch, and Montgomery Martin.

Joseph Tieffenthaler (1710-1785)

  • Tieffenthaler was an 18th-century missionary who travelled in India for 27 years, and wrote his travelogue titled “Description Historique et Geographique De l’Inde”.
  • Hailing from Bozano in present-day Italy, Tieffenthaler underwent religious training in the Jesuit order before setting sail for Goa from Portugal in 1743.
  • He said to have been proficient in mathematics, astronomy, geography and natural sciences, and in the German, Italian, Spanish, French, Hindustani, Persian, Arabic, and Sanskrit languages.
  • In India, he was commissioned at the famous observatory of Sawai Jai Singh, the Raja of Jaipur, and was later attached at the Jesuit College in Agra which was built with the patronage of Akbar.
  • Tieffenthaler is said to have lived in Awadh, where Ayodhya is located, for over five years.

William Finch (died 1613)

  • William Finch’s account has been recorded in the 1921 book ‘Early Travels in India (1583-1619)’ by the historiographer Sir William Foster.
  • The book contains the narratives of seven travellers from England, including Finch.
  • Finch is known to have arrived in India in 1608 at Surat with Sir William Hawkins, a representative of the East India Company.
  • His is said to be the earliest English language account of Kashmir, as well as trade routes connecting Punjab and eastern Turkistan and western China.
  • Finch visited Ayodhya between 1608 and 1611, and did not find any building of importance of Islamic origin.

Robert Montgomery Martin (1801-1868)

  • Originally from Dublin in Ireland, Martin was an Anglo-Irish author and civil servant.
  • He practised medicine in Ceylon (present-day Sri Lanka), East Africa and Australia.
  • Martin then went on to work in Kolkata where helped found the paper ‘Bengal Herald’. He later returned to England where he wrote about the British Empire.
  • Martin wrote the three-volume work ‘History, Antiquities, Topography and Statistics of Eastern India’.
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