Topic outline

    • Towns, Traders and Craftspersons

      Q50. Explain why Surat was the gateway for trade with West.

      Ans. Surat was the gateway for trade with West Asia via the Gulf of Ormuz. The city was cosmopolitan and people of all castes and creeds lived there. In the seventeenth century the Portuguese, Dutch and English had their factories and warehouses at Surat. According to the English chronicler Ovington who wrote an account of the port in 1689, on average a hundred ships of different countries could be found anchored at the port at any given time. There were also several retail and wholesale shops selling cotton textiles. The textiles of Surat were famous for their gold lace borders (zari) and had a market in West Asia, Africa and Europe. The state built numerous rest-houses to take care of the needs of people from all over the world who came to the city.

      Q51. How was Hampi in its heyday in the 15-16th centuries? When did it fall to ruin?

      Ans. In its heyday in the fifteenth sixteenth centuries, Hampi bustled with commercial and cultural activities.

                             i.        Moors (a name used collectively for Muslim merchants), Chettis and agents of European traders such as the Portuguese, thronged the markets of Hampi.

                            ii.        Temples were the hub of cultural activities and devadasis (temple dancers) performed before the deity, royalty and masses in the many-pillared halls in the Virupaksha (a form of Shiva) temple.

                            iii.        The Mahanavami festival, known today as Navaratri in the south, was one of the most important festivals celebrated at Hampi.

      Hampi fell into ruin following the defeat of Vijayanagara in 1565 by the Deccani Sultans – the rulers of Golconda, Bijapur, Ahmadnagar, Berar and Bidar.

      Q52. Why did Masulipatnam become prosperous and popular?

      Ans. The town of Masulipatnam or Machlipatnam (literally, fish port town) lay on the delta of the Krishna river.

                               i.        In the seventeenth century it was a centre of intense activity. Both the Dutch and English East India Companies attempted to control Masulipatnam as it became the most important port on the Andhra coast.

                              ii.        The Qutb Shahi rulers of Golconda imposed royal monopolies on the sale of textiles, spices and other items to prevent the trade passing completely into the hands of the various East India Companies.

                             iii.        Fierce competition among various trading groups – the Golconda nobles, Persian merchants, Telugu Komati Chettis, and European traders – made the city populous and prosperous.

      Q53. Describe the town Thanjavur.
      Why do you think people regarded Thanjavur as a great town?

      Ans. People regarded Thanjavur as a great town because of the following reasons:

                              i.        Thanjavur was the capital of the Cholas.The perennial river Kaveri flows near this beautiful town. One hears the bells of the Rajarajeshvara temple built by King Rajaraja Chola.

                             ii.        The townspeople are all praise for its architect Kunjaramallan Rajaraja Perunthachchan who has proudly carved his name on the temple wall. Inside is a massive Shiva linga.

                            iii.        Besides the temple, there are palaces with mandapas or pavilions. Kings hold court in these mandapas, issuing orders to their subordinates. There are also barracks for the army.

                            iv.        The town is bustling with markets selling grain, spices, cloth and jewellery. Water supply for the town comes from wells and tanks.


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