Legendary and historical figures

The Chinese monk Xuanzang (ca. 602–664) set off on the long journey from China to India in 629. His trip was not solely a pilgrimage to the holy sites of Buddhism, however; its purpose was also to seek out religious instruction and find new Buddhist teachings, still unknown in China. In 645 he returned to China with an immense number of texts, and with the support of a team he began translating them into Chinese. His account of his travels provides valuable details about the political, social, and religious life of the territories he passed through. In fact, it is one of the richest sources we have on Indian Buddhism from that era. Even today, archaeologists refer to his descriptions when attempting to identify the locations of ancient Buddhist sites.