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Antique maps of India are of interest for their historical significance and rich decorations. For several centuries, India was a pawn in the rise and fall of empires, and antique maps of India reflect this landscape of political change. Even as recent as 70 years ago, Indian maps were different than they are today.
Like other antique maps, early maps of India are part fantasy, part reality. Most antique maps of India were made by European artists, with some renderings relying solely on the stories of sailors and explorers. The Dutch explorers traveled to many foreign places seeking lands to conquer and trade with, bringing artists who drew these places with them. The drawings were later engraved and printed, resulting in a map. More than 70 of these richly-decorated antique maps of India are part of the collection of the National Museum in New Delhi.
Pilgrimage maps made by Indian artists trace the pathways of a route that encounters sacred landmarks. Certain places are highlighted on these trails according to sacred prominence or personal importance to the artist. As with other vintage Indian maps, pilgrimage maps are more of a skilled painting than a cartographic tool.
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