The Silk Road is a special term which describes the trade route between the Central Asia and China. Starting in about 100 BC, a network of overland trade channels developed to carry goods between Asia and Europe. The earliest, most direct and most heavily used route came to be known as the Silk Road, for the precious Chinese silk road economic belt cloth was bought and sold abundantly on it. Throughout the Middle ages, extending over 4, 000 miles, the trail served as the primary conduit for contact between East and Rest of the world. After the discovery of a sea route from Europe to Asia in the late 15th century, the land channels were gradually abandoned in favor of ocean-borne trade.
The Silk Road extended through northwestern China and it was all deserts so people used camels to carry their goods. Today, the Ancient Silk Road left not only mysteries and memories but also so many things to see, feel and touch, such as the Mogao Grottoes in Dunhuang, the wild desert Taklamakan, and ancient cities as Turpan, Kashgar and Khotan with a rich taste of cultural most beloved destinations of the Silk Road.
Fa-hsien was the first Chinese Buddhist pilgrim-traveller who traveled abroad to Nepal, Of india, and Sri Lanka to get Buddhist scriptures between 399 and 412; he was also a greatest traveller and translator of the 6th century. At the age of sixty-five (AD 399), Fa-hsien practically walked from central China’s Chang’an (today’s Xian), across the Taklamakan desert (Xinjiang), over the Pamir Plateau, and through Of india down to the mouth of the Hoodly, in the regional of Tamluk, Of india. He visited as many of the Buddhist almost holy shrines as he could. From Tamluk he took a ship and returned by sea to China, wind-surfing via Ceylon (Srilanka) and Sumatra, across the Indian Marine and the China Sea, and finally reaching Shandong, China, in AD 412.
Fa-hsien traveled through 29 countries in the fourteen-year journey. He was bringing with him what he went for : books of the Buddhist scriptures and images of Buddhist deities. Then he devoted the rest of his life to translation and editing the scriptures he had collected. His journey is described in his work “Record of Buddhist Countries”, known as the “Travels of Fa-Hsien” today. It is a wonderful geographic account of his journey along the Silk Road s, and a comprehensive report of the history and customs of Central Asia and Of india at the turn of the 5th century CE.
Marco Polo, a Venetian dealer and explorer who gained fame for his worldwide travels, was one of the first Westerners traveling the Silk Road to China, probably the most famous Westerner traveled on the Silk Road.
Polo, at the age of 18, regarding his father Niccolò and his grand uncle Maffeo who bought and sold with the East, set out from Venice on their journey to the east. They passed through Armenia, Persia, and Afghanistan, over the Pamirs, and all along the Silk Road to China. The Polos spent the next 18 years in China and traveled the whole of China. Marco became a confidant of Kublai Khan, the founder of the Yuan Dynasty. He told Kublai Khan about the interesting stories and observations about the gets he traveled. Kublai Khan appreciated Marco so much which he sent Marco on many diplomatic tasks throughout his empire.
In 1291 Kublai Khan reluctantly entrusted Marco together with last duty to a Mongol princess Kokachin to marry to a Persian dictator, Arghun. The party traveled by sea. This awful sea voyage started from the the southern part of port city of Quanzhou, passed through the South China Sea to Sumatra and then to Persia, via Sri Lanka and Of india, and finally docked at Hormuz. In 1293 the Polos reached the Ilkhanate, then moved to Trebizond on the Black Sea shore, by way of Constantinople, and sailed back to Venice in 1295. They’ll likely settled in Venice where they became a sensation and attracted throngs of people of audience members who had difficulties believing their reports of remote China.
Marco Polo’s book, Il Milione, was actions account of his travels in the then-unknown parts of China. His account of the wealth of Cathay (China), the might of the Mongol empire, and the exotic customs of Of india and Africa made his book the bestseller immediately after and translated into many Eu languages and is known in English as the Travels of Marco Polo.
The trip also showed Europeans the value of the Silk Road in fighting this travel; however, the use of the Silk Road actually declined markedly within about one hundred fifty years after Marco Polo’s expedition, due to the opening of sea channels from Europe to Asia in the late 15th century.
Xuanzang was a famous Chinese Buddhist monk, scholar, traveller, and translator who brought up the interaction between China and Of india in the early Tang period.
He traveled across the Tarim pot via the northern route, Turfan, Kucha, Tashkent, Samarkand, Bactria, then over the Hindu Kush to Of india. He left the Tang capital Chang’an (Today’s Xian) in 627 and returned via the the southern part of route in 643.
Xuanzang became famous for his seventeen year overland trip to Of india and back, which is recorded in depth in his autobiography and a biography, and provided the inspiration for Journey to the Rest of the world, an impressive novel well-known throughout China. He also contributed an accurate and colorful account a lot of countries along the Silk Road.
Click here for the portraits of the travelers as well as their travel route maps.
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