the West, whereas the field lay practically open to them in the East. In the
later half of the first century AD, very large ships are mentioned in the
Western sources as sailing from the Chola ports to Chryse (the exact
equivalent of the Indian Suvarnabhumi Suvarnadvipa). These ships were
probably of the two-masted type represented on some coins of king Yajnasri
Satakarni, which are chiefly found along the Coromandel coast between
Madras and Cuddalore.
    In the second century AD, a regular sea route was in operation from the
eastern coast of India to the South-East Asian countries, as is evident from
the stories of the voyages of daring Indian merchants to Suvarnabhumi-
Suvarnadvipa in the Jatakas as well as in the great collections of folklore like
Brihatkathamanjari and Katha saritsagara.
    In the third century AD also, the Indian merchants, as recorded by the
Chinese writers, undertook daring voyages to the Malay Peninsula and
Cambodia. The names given in the Indian works, and after them in the Greek
and Arab writings, demonstrate that it was primarily the quest for gold that
motivated the Indians to venture across the seas to South-East Asia.
Trade with China Direct Indian contact with China was possibly
established at the time of the old Han dynasty, the annals of which mention a
voyage to Huang-che (probably Kanchipuram in south India). The discovery
of a Chinese coin in Mysore which dubiously bears the date 138 BC may also
be a proof of maritime trade between India and China in the second century
BC. The report submitted to the emperor by the Chinese envoy Kang Tai (250
AD) and the frequent visits of Buddhist missionaries to China for
proselytisation from the beginning of the Christian era also point to the same
conclusion. Overland trade between India and China would also seem to have
flourished, and the viharas explored by Sir Aurel Stein in Central Asia
perhaps acted as caravan-sarais for night halts of merchants, besides
providing shelter to the Buddhist monks.
    In the first century AD there was a regular over-land trade in Chinese raw
silk, as well as silk yarn and silk cloth from North-West China to the Malabar
ports by way of the lower Ganga. The extensive trade in these articles led to
the issue of gold coins in the lower Ganga region. In the late first century AD
sea route to China was known, though vaguely, even to the anonymous
author of the Periplus of the