CONTRIBUTED BY URVASHI SRIVASTAVA
Travel is something we all enjoy and look forward to but can one travel all his life and that too with hardly any facilities en route? Meet Ibn Battuta who had a passion for travel unparalleled in history, inimitable by any individual. It is hard to believe that Ibn Battuta journeyed more than 75,000 miles (121,000 km), a figure unsurpassed by any individual explorer until the coming of the Steam Age some 450 years later. Over his lifetime Ibn Battuta visited the equivalent of 44 modern countries. He was the only medieval traveller who is known to have visited the lands of every Muslim ruler of his time. Over a period of thirty years, he visited most of the known Islamic world as well as many non-Muslim lands; his journeys include trips to North Africa, West Africa, Southern Europe and Eastern Europe in the West, Middle East, South Asia, Central Asia, Southeast Asia and China in the East, a distance surpassing threefold his near-contemporary Marco Polo.
Known in India as Maulana Baddrudin and Sheikh Shams-ud-din in eastern countries, Ibn Battuta’s real name was Abu-Abdullah Muhammad Ibn Battuta. Born on 24th February 1304 C.E. (703 Hijra), he left Tangier on Thursday, 14th June, 1325 C.E. (725 Hijra), when he was twenty-one years of age. His travels lasted for about thirty years, after which he returned to Fez, Morocco at the court of Sultan Abu ‘Inan and dictated accounts of his journeys to Ibn Juzay. These are known as the famous Travels Rihala of Ibn Battuta.
It was sheer grit and determination that led Ibn Battuta to travel far and wide given the rudimentary facilities and infrastructure of those times. No wonder he is considered one of the greatest travelers of all time. His travel accounts of India are an invaluable source of information about life and times in the 14th century.