Abdur Razzak [1413 - 1482]

Abdur Razzak was an Islamic scholar and a historian who visited the Vijayanagara Kingdom in India at the time of Dev Raya II, the greatest ruler of the Sangama dynasty.

This article aims to share the facts related to Abdur Razzak’s personal life and his visit to India for candidates preparing for the IAS Exam

Information on Abdur Razzak’s visit to India is relevant for Civil Services aspirants under the Indian History part of UPSC Prelims exam.  

This article has information related to the History section of the UPSC Syllabus.

Given below are the links that give information on the account of various foreign travellers who visited India – 

Sir Thomas Roe [1581-1644] Captain William Hawkins [1516 – 1613]
Fa-Hien [337 CE – 422 CE] Hiuen Tsang [602 CE – 664 CE]

For information about other Foreign Envoys who visited India, visit the linked page. 

Abdur Razzak – Personal Background

  1. Abdur Razzak was born on 7 November 1413 in Herat  (presently in Afghanistan) to Jalal-ud-Din Ishaq.
  2. Jalal-ud-Din Ishaq, father of Abdur Razzak was the qazi and imam of the Shah Rukh’s court in Herat. Shah Rukh was the ruler of Persia, Timurid dynasty (Timur was succeeded by his son Shahrukh). 
  3. After the death of his father in 1437, Abdur was appointed the qazi of the Shah Rukh’s court. Under whom Razzak prospered as a legal courtier, trustee, and ambassador.
  4. From that time on he was a witness of political and military events at the capitals of Herat and Samarqand, as well as on diplomatic and military missions.
  5. Razzak’s ambassadorial missions took him to various places in Eurasia. His most important task was an official mission to India.
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Abdur Razzak Visit to India – UPSC Prelims Facts

  • Abdur Razzak, the Persian Islamic scholar and a Timurid chronicler visited the Vijaynagar Kingdom at the time of Dev Raya II ruler of Sangama dynasty. Some important facts about him are listed below:
  • In 1441, Shah Rukh of Persia sent Kamal-ud-din Abdur Razzaq as an emissary on a three-year mission, mostly to the court of the Zamorin of Calicut ( King Samudri of Kozhikode in Kerala).
  • The major Muslim power in the Deccan at that time was the Bahmani Empire, founded by a family of Iranian origin. Read in detail about the Bahmani Kingdom 1347-1526 on the given link. 
  • Razzak was a reluctant traveler. In January 1442 he left Herat because of the Monarch. He faced the perils of the sea, landed in Muscat for safety, reached Kariat and was seriously ill due to the heat but finally managed to recover enough to undergo 18 days of voyage at sea to finally land in Calicut in the southwest of India.
  • He was not much impressed by the natives of Calicut and described them as scantily clad and who practised polyandry.
  • His stay in Calicut was limited, as the Vijayanagar King invited him to his kingdom. Razzak passing through Mangalore, Belur reached Vijayanagara.

To read more about the Deccan Kingdoms – Chalukyas, Hoysalas, Kakatiyas, check the linked article.

  • Abdur Razzak wrote his travels in the Matla-us-Sadain wa Majma-ul-Bahrain, or The Rise of Two Auspicious Constellations and the Confluence of Two Oceans.
  • According to Razzak’s account, Deva Raya II’s empire extended from Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) to Gulbarga, and Orissa to Malabar. 
  • On meeting the King he described that King Deva Raya was sitting in a forty pillared hall surrounded by Brahmans, had an olive complexion and wore a collar of king pearls. He was tall, young with no beard or mustache. 
  • When Abdur Razzak met the King, he was given a Chinese fan, money, camphor and betel. Razzak’s accommodation was at the high ground near the King’s palace, and he was daily sent two sheep, four couples of fowls, rice, butter, and two gold varahas.
  • He described that the city of Vijayanagara was governed by an able King. It was filled with temples, gardens and palaces. There were 300 harbors and 1,100000 warriors. It was well fortified and the markets were teeming with wealth. He also mentioned the Royal Center of Hampi that several rivulets and streams flowed through channels of cut stone.
  • Abdur Razzak the Iranian ambassador to the Deccan (southern India) ended his year-long stay in Hampi at the court of the Raja of Vijaynagar and set out from there in November 1444. He left the city, reached Mangalore after 18 days, then went on to Kalahat, Muscat, Khorfakkan and finally to the port of Hurmuz. He was at the sea for a total of seventy-five days. And after this never ventured out to travel again. He swore in his travelogue that he would never make a voyage again because his brother died on the passage to India, and he himself was caught up in court intrigues that nearly killed him.

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Other related links:

UPSC Books UPSC Mains Answer Writing Practice 2023
IAS Questions & Answers for UPSC 2023 Chronological Order of Ancient to Modern History of India
Important Dynasties and kingdoms of Ancient India  UPSC Mains General Studies Paper I – Strategy, Syllabus, Structure
NCERT Notes: The Vijayanagara Empire (1336-1646) Best Magazines For UPSC Preparation
NCERT Notes on Medieval History for UPSC PIB Summary & Analysis
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