Abdur Razzak, like Nicolo
di Conti, visited the city during the reign of Deva
Raya II., but about twenty years later than Conti. He
was entrusted with an embassy from Persia, and set out on
his mission on January 13, A.D. 1442. At the beginning of
November that year he arrived at Calicut, where he resided
till the beginning of April 1443. Being there he was summoned
to Vijayanagara, travelled thither, and was in the great city
from the end of April till the 5th December of the same year.
The following passage explains why he left Calicut.
"On a sudden a man arrived
who brought me the intelligence that the king of Bidjanagar,
who holds a powerful empire and a mighty dominion under his
sway, had sent him to the Sameri as delegate, charged with
a letter in which he desired that he would send on to him
the ambassador of His Majesty, the happy Khakhan (I.E. the
king of Persia). Although the Sameri is not subject to the
laws of the king of Bidjanagar, he nevertheless pays him respect
and stands extremely in fear of him, since, if what is said
is true, this latter prince has in his dominions three hundred
ports, each of which is equal to Calicut, and on TERRA FIRMA
his territories comprise a space of three months' journey."
In obedience to this request,
Abdur Razzak left Calicut by sea and went to Mangalore, "which
forms the frontier of the kingdom of Bidjanagar." He
stayed there two or three days and then journeyed inland,
passing many towns, and amongst them a place where he saw
a small but wonderful temple made of bronze.
"At length I came to
a mountain whose summit reached the skies. Having left this
mountain and this forest behind me, I reached a town called
Belour (Belur), the houses of which were like palaces."
Here he saw a temple with
"At the end of the month
of Zoul'hidjah (April 1443), we arrived at the city of Bidjanagar.
The king sent an enormous cortege to meet us, and appointed
us a very handsome house for our residence. His dominion extends
from the frontier of Serendib to the extremities of the country
of Kalbergah (Gulbarga). One sees there more than a thousand
elephants, in their size resembling mountains and in their
form resembling devils. The troops amount in number to eleven
LAK (1,100,000). One might seek in vain throughout the whole
of Hindustan to find a more absolute RAI; for the monarchs
of this country bear the title of RAI".
"The city of Bidjanagar
is such that the pupil of the eye has never seen a place like
it, and the ear of intelligence has never been informed that
there existed anything to equal it in the world. It is built
in such a manner that seven citadels and the same number of
walls enclose each other. Around the first citadel are stones
of the height of a man, one half of which is sunk in the ground
while the other half rises above it. These are fixed one beside
the other in such a manner that no horse or foot soldier could
boldly or with ease approach the citadel."
Razzaq describes the outer citadel as a "fortress of
round shape, built on the summit of a mountain, and constructed
of stones and lime. It has very solid gates, the guards of
which are constantly at their post, and examine everything
with severe inspection." This passage must refer to the
outer line of wall, since Razzaq's "seventh fortress"
is the innermost of all. The guards at the gates were doubtless
the officers entrusted with the collection of the octroi duties.
Sir Henry Elliot's translation adds to the passage as quoted
the words, -- "they collect the JIZYAT or taxes."
"The seventh fortress
is to the north, and is the palace of the king. The distance
between the opposite gates of the outer fortress north and
south is two parasangs (about seven to eight miles), and the
same east to west."
"The space which separates
the first fortress from the second, and up to the third fortress,
is filled with cultivated fields and with houses and gardens.
In the space from the third to the seventh one meets a numberless
crowd of people, many shops, and a bazaar. By the king's palace
are four bazaars, placed opposite each other. On the north
is the portico of the palace of the RAI. Above each bazaar
is a lofty arcade with a magnificent gallery, but the audience-hall
of the king's palace is elevated above all the rest. The bazaars
are extremely long and broad."
"Roses are sold everywhere.
These people could not live without roses, and they look upon
them as quite as necessary as food.... Each class of men belonging
to each profession has shops contiguous the one to the other;
the jewellers sell publicly in the bazaars pearls, rubies,
emeralds, and diamonds. In this agreeable locality, as well
as in the king's palace, one sees numerous running streams
and canals formed of chiselled stone, polished and smooth."
"Behind the king's palace
are the house and hall allotted to the Danaik. To the left
of the said palace is the Mint."
"This empire contains
so great a population that it would be impossible to give
an idea of it without entering into extensive details. In
the king's palace are several cells, like basins, filled with
bullion, forming one mass."
Opposite the DIVAN-KHANEH,
he continues, is the house of the elephants. "Each elephant
has a separate compartment, the walls of which are extremely
solid, and the roof composed of strong pieces of wood....
Opposite the Mint is the house of the Governor, where are
stationed twelve thousand soldiers on guard.... Behind the
Mint is a sort of bazaar, which is more than three hundred
ghez in length, and more than twenty in breadth. On two sides are ranged houses
and forecourts; in front of them are erected, instead of benches
(KURSI), several lofty seats constructed of beautiful stones.
On the two sides of the avenue formed by the chambers are
represented figures of lions, panthers, tigers, and other
animals. Thrones and chairs are placed on the platforms, and
the courtesans seat themselves thereon, bedecked in gems and
The author took up his abode
in a lofty house which had been allotted to him, on the 1st
Muharram (May 1, 1443)
"One day some messengers
sent from the palace of the king came to see me, and at the
close of the same day I presented myself at court.... The
prince was seated in a hall, surrounded by the most imposing
attributes of state. Right and left of him stood an enormous
crowd of men arranged in a circle. The king was dressed in
a robe of green satin, around his neck he wore a collar, composed
of pearls of beautiful water, and other splendid gems. He
had an olive complexion, his frame was thin, and he was rather
tall; on his cheeks might be seen a slight down, hut there
was no beard on his chin. The expression of his countenance
was extremely pleasing."
"In the front of this
place rose a palace with nine pavilions magnificently ornamented.
In the ninth the king's throne was set up. In the seventh
was allotted a place to the humble author of this narrative....
Between the palace and the pavilions ... were musicians and
"The throne, which was
of extraordinary size, was made of gold, and enriched with
precious stones of extreme value.... Before the throne was
a square cushion, on the edges of which were sown three rows
The descriptions given
by these travellers give us a good idea of the splendours
of this great Hindu capital in the first half of the fifteenth