Buoyed by his visit to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s home state Gujarat, Chinese President Xi Jinping in a reciprocal gesture invited him to his hometown Xian, where the famous Buddhist monk Hiuen Tsang spent his last years after his return from India some 2,000 years ago.
Mr. Xi invited Modi on Wednesday to visit his hometown Xi’an, the famous tourist town which show cases the Terracotta warriors.
Mr. Xi said the seventh-century Chinese monk stayed in India for 16 years to seek Buddhist scriptures.
“When he came back to China, he stayed in my hometown, Xi’an, to translate and spread Buddhist thoughts to Chinese people,” official media in Beijing quoted Mr. Xi as saying.
According to historical records, Hiuen Tsang, also known as Xuan Zang, started his travels at the age of 28 in 629 AD and recorded his travels in Gujarat, where he describes towns and cities like Bharuch, Malwa, Idar and Valabhi.
Mr. Modi earlier said that the monk also stayed in his home town Vadodara.
Xian is the home of Wild Goose Pagoda, built to highlight the monk’s efforts to visit India in 645 AD through the ancient Silk Road and return home after a 17-year long sojourn with precious Buddhist scriptures.
He translated the works into Chinese which helped popularising the Buddhism in China which till date remained the most cherished link between both the countries.
The Pagoda was built to highlight his achievement.
Vice President Hamid Ansari visited the Pagoda during his visit to China in June this year.
The Chinese media also highlighted the India-China agreement to strengthen culture and personnel exchanges during Mr. Xi’s current visit to India.
China will help India train 1,500 Chinese-language teachers. China and India will each send 200 youths to visit the other each year. The two nations will also set up culture centres in the other’s territory.
Next year will be “Visit India” year in China, and 2016 will be “Visit China” in India.