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Two Monks to Retrace 'Journey to the West'

Two Buddhist monks are to follow in the footsteps of a famous predecessor Xuanzang on a journey from China to India.


Xuanzang (602-664 AD) traveled from the city of Chang'an, today's Xi'an in northwest China's Shaanxi Province, to india in 629 to study Buddhism and obtain Buddhist scriptures. His trip took 19 years.


And, as part of a series of activities to commemorate Xuanzang's journey, two monks, one from the Chinese mainland and the other from Taiwan, will set off from Xi'an on July 20.


Their 120-day journey to India will follow Xuanzang's exact route.


The two monks -- 33-year-old Mingxian from east China's Jiangxi Province and 36-year-old Huikuan from Taiwan -- will travel on foot along certain sections of the journey.


They will travel through Pakistan and Nepal and will arrive at Nalanda in India, the ancient center of Buddhist learning, on Nov. 20.


Mingxian said he hoped their journey would promote world peace.


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


"The project is aimed at enhancing communication between China and India and promoting the splendid culture of Buddhism," said Wen Lanzi, an official in charge of religious affairs in Guangdong.


He said the event was launched in Guangdong because Buddhism is very popular there.


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 organizing 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.  


(Xinhua News Agency April 24, 2006)


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