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Two Monks to Retrace 'Journey to the West'
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Two Buddhist monks are to follow in the footsteps of a famous predecessor, Xuanzang (602-664 AD), on a journey from China to India.

Xuanzang travelled from the city of Chang'an, which is now called Xi'an, in Shaanxi Province, to India to obtain Buddhist scriptures and study, returning 17 years later.

His remarkable adventures inspired the Chinese classic A Journey to the West.

And, as part of a series of activities to commemorate the journey, two monks, one from the Chinese mainland and the other from Taiwan, will set off from Xi'an on July 19.

Their four-month journey to India will follow Xuanzang's exact route, which he took more than 1,300 years ago.

The start of the project was marked by a ceremony at the Guangxiao Temple in Guangzhou on Friday.

"The aim is to enhance communication between China and India, and to promote Chinese culture," said Shi Zhongyao, general secretary of the organizing committee.

The event, organized by the China Buddhism Association, the Chinese People's Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries and the China Xuanzang Research Center, also comes in the Year of Sino-India Friendship.

The two monks Mingxian and Huikuan will travel on foot along certain sections of the journey.

They will travel through Pakistan, Nepal and finally to Nalanda in India, the ancient centre of Buddhist learning.

Mingxian said he hoped their journey would promote world peace.

Because Buddhism is very popular in Guangdong, the organizing committee chose the city to launch the project, Shi said.

The committee started on Friday to select members of an escort team for the two monks.

Two members of this team will be monks with martial arts skills learned at the Shaolin Temple in central China's Henan Province.

Also on Friday, eight people embarked on a journey to India as part of the project's advance group.

(China Daily April 22, 2006)

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