Who was the First Chinese Traveller to India?

By BYJU'S Exam Prep

Updated on: November 9th, 2023

The First Chinese Traveller to India was Faxian, often referred to as Fa-Hian, in the early fifth century. He had come in search of Buddhist scriptures, which was the reason for his visit. Faxian, a Chinese Buddhist monk and translator, also known as Fa-Hian, Fa-Hsien, and Cehi, lived from AD 337 to 422.

First Chinese Traveller to India

He went on foot from China to India for the collection of Buddhist writings. Between 399 and 412 AD, he spent more than 9 years in India before setting off on his grueling journey, visiting sacred Buddhist sites in Central, and Southeast Asia, and South.

  • His journey is chronicled in his travelogue Record of Buddhist Kingdoms (Foguo Ji).
  • His autobiography is an unbiased account of early Buddhism in India.
  • He brought several Sanskrit writings, many of which serve as historical names, events, texts, and ideas, and whose translations influenced East Asian Buddhism.

Diaries of First Chinese Traveller

The diaries of Faxian provide an unbiased account of the societies and cultures of the locations he visited, particularly 400 CE ancient India.

  • His interpretations of the Sanskrit manuscripts he brought to China are a crucial tool for establishing the dates of texts, specific people, and Buddhist traditions.
  • He claims to have fled India from Tamralipti, an east coast port, around 409 CE.
  • However, a few of his Chinese traveling companion pilgrims decided to remain in India.

Faxian Books

Record of Buddhist Kingdoms, James Legge (1886, trans. ), Asian Educational Service, 1993; Narrative of the Chinese Monk Fâ-Hien of his Travels in India and Ceylon (399-414 CE) in Search of Buddhist Books of Discipline;

Herbert A. Giles (1877, trans.), A Record of Buddhist Kingdoms: Translated from the Chinese, Cornell University Library (June 25, 2009);


Who was the First Chinese Traveller to India?

Faxian, a Chinese Buddhist monk and translator also known as Fa-Hien, was the first to arrive in India from China. He traveled by foot from China to India in search of Buddhist writings.

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