A site of great historical significance in the Luoyang area is the White Horse Temple, established  in 68AD, and now on the outskirts of the modern city. Believed to be the oldest Buddhist shrine in China, it owes its existence to Luoyang’s pivotal position at the end of the Silk Road connecting China with Central Asia. During the Tang era of the 7th century AD, the monk Xuanzang set out from here on his 17-year odyssey in search of sacred Buddhist texts in India – the journey that inspired the Ming novel, Journey to the West, one of the classics of Chinese literature. Today, the complex welcomes streams of visitors from all over the world, but remains a serene and tranquil haven, and an exotic spectacle with its ornately gabled, upswept roofs and lavishly decorated halls containing precious Buddhas, including one made of solid Burmese jade.

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