Posts Tagged ‘mishi saran’

Hsuen Tsang’s route to India

August 6, 2012

Most of us are taught in school about the seventh century Chinese Buddhist monk who came to India. Many of us even recollect the name but i wonder if we ever gave thought to the route he took to India. Until i read this fascinating travelogue i always assumed that he would have come across the Himalaya. After all didn’t the Dalai lama cross the Himalaya to come to India?! Well, it turns out that Hsuen Tsang took the much longer route:

China (from Xian)-Kyrgyzstan-Uzbekistan-Tajikistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India.

In India he went up to Kanchipuram in the south and Assam in the north east! On his way back he went from Afghanistan directly to China skirting Tajikistan and skipping Kyrgystan and Uzbekistan. The map below clearly shows the short cut he took on his way back.

I initially thought i would look up the places that Hsuen Tsang visited and make a route map in google however i found that it has been already done in great detail and is available here.

As i went through the book i found that even the author wondered why Hsuen Tsang took this rather long route.  We get to know the possible reason from the author’s companion in Uzbekistan, a Ukrainian Archaeologist Leonid Sverchov.  Famous translators of Buddhist texts were from  Samarkand (Uzbekistan) and so Hsuen Tsang must have thought the region to be rich in Buddhism. He came to look at Buddhism in all these regions in Central Asia.

Cunningham Road

August 3, 2012

I came across the name Alexander Cunnigham in the travelogue ‘Chasing the Monk’s Shadow’ by Mishi Saran. In this book the author, Mishi Saran writes about her travels to the places visited by the famous 7th century Chinese Buddhist monk Hsuan Tsang on his journey to India.  Mishi Saran referred to Cunningham’s report ‘ The Ancient Geography of India. Volume 1, Buddhist Period’ to know about the exact locations of Buddhist sites in India.

The name Cunningham raised my curiosity. There is a ‘Cunningham Road’ in Bangalore that i normally take to go towards Shivajinagar. Could he be the person after whom the road has been named? and why? So i google’d and came across fascinating information from Wikipedia. Alexander Cunningham is known as the father of  Archaelogical Survey of India! Francis Cunnigham, his brother, was a deputy to Sir Mark Cubbon who was the then chief commissioner at Bangalore. Apparently, Francis Cunningham lobbyed on behalf of the deposed Maharaja of Mysore arguing that he should be allowed to adopt and the kingdom be restored to him. It is possibly due to these efforts of his that the Cunningham road is named after him.


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