If one goes through the ancient history of India, he/she must have come across the name of the Chinese Buddhist monk Hsuan Tsang (var. Hiuen Tsiang) who visited India through the Silk Route between AD 627-643. He was a great traveler, scholar and translator. Till date his work on India is very significant.
Hsuan Tsang left Ssu-ch’uan without a travel permit in 627. His left this place very secretively as it was against law to travel abroad in China. Though he was on the main route but after his experience at first outpost where he was stopped he made a detour. Now he was into a place where there were no signs of life. All along his way, Hsuan Tsang faced many challenges and crossed deserts and mountains, passed through the central Asiatic regions of Turfan, Karashahr, Tashkent, Samarkand, and Bactria. But this didn’t stop him from visiting India. After traveling about 34 kingdoms he finally entered India in 631 through Hindu Kush. He spent near about two years in northwest India and then went to Ganges region for visiting sacred Buddhist place. His travel included Kapilavastu (birthplace of Buddha), Benares; Sarnath (places where Budhha delivered lectures), Bodhgaya (Buddha accomplished Nirvana at this place) and then to Nalanda (Buddhist learning center in India). For 15 months Hsuan Tsang studied at Nalanda to learn Sanskrit. He even studied Indian philosophy, grammar and logic.
King Harshaa came to know about him while he was going back to his country. The king made his travel back to China much easier. Hsuan Tsang left India in 643 and reached Ch’ang-an in 645. Back home, he was offered a ministerial position but he refused it, as he wanted to complete his religious work. He started translating Sanskrit texts that he brought from India and successfully completed the translation of more than 600 Buddhist texts. Hsuan Tsang’s translations contained some of the most important Mahayana writings.