Chasing the monk's shadow: a journey in the foodsteps of Xuanzang
An Indian woman with a China craze, a Chinese monk with an Indian obsession; we had the same schizophrenia, the monk and I. It seemed logical to take the same road. In the seventh century AD, the Chinese monk Xuanzang (earlier spelt as Hiuen Tsang or Hsuan Tsang) set off on an epic journey to India to study Buddhist philosophy from the Indian masters. Travelling along the Silk Road, through the desolate wastes of the Gobi desert and the icy passes of Central Asia, braving brigands and blizzards, Xuanzang finally reached India, where his spiritual quest took him to Buddhist holy places and monasteries throughout the subcontinent. By the time he returned to China eighteen years later, carrying with him nearly 600 scriptures which he translated from Sanskrit into Chinese, Xuanzang had covered an astonishing 10,000 miles. He also left a detailed record of his journey, which remains a valuable source of historical information on the regions he traversed. Fourteen hundred years later, Mishi Saran follows in Xuanzang s footsteps to the fabled oasis cities of China and Central Asia, and the Buddhist sites and now-vanished kingdoms in India, Pakistan and Afghanistan that Xuanzang wrote about. Travelling seamlessly back and forth in time between the seventh century and the twenty-first, Saran uncovers the past with consummate skill even as she brings alive the present through her vivid and engaging descriptions of people and places. Her gripping chronicle includes an extraordinary eyewitness account of Kabul under the Taliban regime, just one month before 9/11. Running parallel to the account of her travels is the moving story of the author s inner journey towards a new understanding of her roots and her identity. With its riveting mix of lively reportage, high adventure, historical inquiry and personal memoir, this delightfully written book is a path-breaking travelogue.
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Afghan Afghanistan ancient archaeologists Ashoka Asian asked Bishkek border brick Buddha Buddhist caves Central Asia century chapter China Chinese monk cloth crossed dark Darya Delhi desert eyes face felt filled flowers Gaochang gates guest house hair hand head heat hills Hindu horse Hsuan-tsang Hwui India Islam Islamabad journey Kabul Kapilavastu Kashmir kilometres king kingdom knew Kucha Kushan Kyrgyz Kyrgyzstan leaned leave Leonid looked Luoyang Mathura monastery monk monk's morning mountains museum Muslim Nalanda night painted Pakistan passed perhaps Peshawar piles priests pulled river road rose route ruins Russian Samarkand sangharamas side smiled Sogdian spot stone stopped story stupa Taliban Tamga Tashkent temple thick things thought Tibetan told took town translated trees turned Uighur Uzbekistan valley vast Vasubandhu village visa walked wall watch woman women wrote Xuanzang Yawar