the Vindhyas, into the Deccan, and down the coast. They moved and resettled
to find work, education, patronage, influence, adventure and better living.
They travelled these routes for five centuries, never in large numbers
compared to the resident population; but as time went by, new-comers settled
more often where others had settled before; and their accumulation, natural
increase, and local influence transformed societies all across the Indian
subcontinent, forever. This was one of the world’s most significant long-term
migratory patterns; and it not only brought people and wealth into India but
also caused a balance flow of commodities from South Asia to West Asia and
Two Social Categories of Immigrants Immigrants changed societies
most where they settled largely, in urban centers along trade routes. Two
social categories among the overland migrants who came into India primarily
from southern regions of Central and West Asia can be conveniently
differentiated. Leading the way, warriors organised fighters, military
suppliers and service providers on ethnic lines in groups defined by tribe,
clan, and lineage, mostly Turks and Afghans. Even these groups were multi-
ethnic, but groups in the second, non-military category, were even more so.
Migrants in both categories coming from Persia increased over time. Majority
of the immigrants being Muslim non-combatants, created multi-cultural
centers of social change, mostly in and around urban centers. They, in fact,
caused a huge leap in urbanisation.
Improvement of Historical Documentation Historical documentation also
improved with waves of immigration, often as a consequence of patronage by
sultans. Most of the new documentation relates to the sultans’ activities and
interests, rather than to those of ordinary immigrants. Al Biruni’s Kitab-fi-
tahqiq (completed in 1048) begins the new documentation and carries a
feeling of discovery and exploration. New architectural documentation begins
in 1311, with Ala-ud-din Khalji’s Alai Darwaza in Delhi. We know much
more about sultans, however, than about Al Biruni’s Lahore or about the
people who built and passed through the Alai Darwaza.
Addition of New Layers to the Multiple Sovereignties From the
thirteenth to sixteenth century, Turkish and Afghan warriors reduced old
medieval dynasties into subordination and set up independent domains for