Travels of Hyecho
Hyecho (704-787 CE) - was a Korean Buddhist monk from Silla, one of the three Korean kingdoms of the period. Hyecho studied esoteric Buddhism in Tang Dynasty China, initially under Subhakarasimha and then under the famous Indian monk Vajrabodhi who praised Hyecho as "one of six living persons who were well-trained in the five sections of the Buddhist canon."
On the advice of his Indian teachers in China, he set out for India in 723 CE to acquaint himself with the language and culture of the land of the Buddha. In his Memoir of the Pilgrimage to the Five Indian Kingdoms, Hyecho described his personal observations and experiences as well as local tales and legends that he heard while traveling some 40 countries and regions over four years.
He was the first Asian to travel across the Asian continent, from China to Arabia, by sea and land and to record his journey. The five Indian kingdoms in the work refer to West, East, North, South and Central India, but it also contains information about the Byzantine Empire (Greater Fu-lin), the Arabs, Persia and several Central Asian states. His 20,000 kilometer-long march took four years.
His record is regarded as one of the most valuable works of travel literature in the world, along with Great Tang Records on the Western Regions written by the seventh century Chinese dharma master Xuanzang, The Travels of Marco Polo of the 13th century, and The Journey by the 14th-century Muslim traveler Ibn Batutta.
(Source of information: Wikipedia and Cultural Heritage Administration of Korea (CHA))
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