Medieval India attracted a lot of foreign travelers from all around the world. They documented their experiences in chronicles for the coming generations to read and enjoy the travelling experience in both time and space through their eyes. Today we are visiting a memorial hall built in honor of one such traveler. Xuan Zang Memorial Hall built in Nav Nalanda Mahavihara.
Story of Xuan Zang
Xuanzang, commonly known as Hiuen Tsang in India, was a Chinese Buddhist traveller, travelling through India in search of the ultimate wisdom that India has to offer. He travelled extensively across the length and breadth of the subcontinent. Xuan Zang came in from Khyber Pass and travelled south-eastwards visiting Stupas and Viharas around Peshawar, Oḍḍiyāna, Ruins of Taxila, Kashmir, places in Punjab, Himachal Pradesh and then crossed the River Yamuna and reached Mathura. He continued his travels until he reached Nalanda with some local monks. He stayed in Nalanda studying about buddhist philosophy for about two years. During this time, Xuanzang studied logic, grammar, Sanskrit, and the Yogacara school of Buddhism.
After this, he started his journey south and travelled towards Andhra Pradesh. He visited viharas at Amaravati and Nagarjunakonda and studied more about Buddhism. He continued traveling to Nasik, Ajanta, Malwa; from there he went to Multan and Pravata before returning to Nalanda again. After a short stay in the area of Sylhet, Kamapura and Prayag, Xuan Zang returned to China via Khyber pass through Kashgar, Khotan, and Dunhuang. Chinese people celebrated his return after 16 years with a great procession.
Story of the memorial
Bhikkhu Jagadish Kashyap, the founder Director of Nava Nalanda Mahavihara first proposed the establishment of a Memorial Hall as a symbol of Indo-China friendship dedicated to the great Monk, scholar Ven Xuanzang. He believed this memorial will serve as homage to Xuanzang’s spirit of freedom and quest of knowledge. Hall was established on the southern bank of Padmapushkarni Lake in 1957 where the Government of India received the relics of Ven. Xuanzang along with an endowment for the construction of the Xuanzang Memorial Hall and some Chinese Buddhist texts.
There were repeated requests for renovation. Even various plans were drawn. However, only in 2007, renovation and reconstruction of the memorial is done. Today we can see a renovated and refurbished memorial hall housing these relics and texts. Hall shows a mix of Chinese and Indian architecture with classic sloping curved roofs with blue tile. People believe that curved lines ward off the evil spirits who only travel in straight lines. Rich red color depicts joy and happiness and keeps ghosts away. Chinese and Indian cultural elements are woven in the building and they create a peaceful environment.
I am participating in the A2Z challenge with Blogchatter and this is my take on the ‘X’ challenge. “X is for the Xuan Zang Memorial Hall, Nalanda”. You can find my other posts from this challenge here.