"Malabar pagans called nayres"

This illustration shows "Malabar pagans called nayres" which historians say are the present-day Nairs of southern India.
 Itinerary, the 'first ever book on India'

A copy of a rare 16th Century book that many are describing as the "first ever book on India" is on exhibition at the National Archives building in the capital, Delhi. (Illustrations: Courtesy Italian Cultural Centre and National Archives of India)

The itinerary was written by Italian adventure traveller Ludovico de Varthema, who toured India extensively from 1502 to 1508. The book was first published in Rome in 1510. The book was richly illustrated by the author, who described in minute detail the social practices prevalent in India at the time.

By the time of his death some time before 1517, he had become one of the most successful travel writers since Marco Polo three centuries earlier.

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An illustration for Itinerary