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Cultural Relations between India and China: The Tradition of Continuity

India-China cultural exchanges date back to many centuries and there is some evidence that conceptual and linguistic exchanges existed in 1500-1000 B.C. between the Shang-Zhou civilization and the ancient Vedic civilization. During first, second and third centuries A.D. several Buddhist pilgrims and scholars travelled to China on the historic “silk route”. Kashyapa Matanga and Dharmaratna made the White Horse monastery at Luoyang their abode. Ancient Indian monk-scholars such as Kumarajiva, Bodhidharma and Dharmakshema contributed to the spread of Buddhism in China. Similarly, Chinese pilgrims also undertook journeys to India, the most famous among them being Fa Xian and Xuan Zang.

As a mark of the historical civilizational contact between India and China, India constructed a Buddhist temple in Luoyang, Henan Province, inside the White Horse Temple complex which was said to have been built in honour of the Indian monks Kashyapa Matanga and Dharmaratna. The temple was inaugurated in May 2010 by President Pratibha Patil during her visit to China. Besides this, in February 2007, the Xuanzang memorial was inaugurated at Nalanda. In June 2008, joint stamps were released, one stamp depicting the Mahabodhi temple at Bodhgaya and the other depicting the White Horse temple at Luoyang. In order to further academic exchanges, a Centre for Indian studies was set up in Peking University in 2003. Chairs of Indian Studies/Hindi have also been established in Shenzhen University, Jinan University, Fudan University, Guangdong University and in Shanghai International Studies University.

Indian Bollywood movies were popular in China in the 1960s and 1970s and the popularity is being rekindled in recent times again. India and China have entered into an agreement on co-production of movies, the first of which based on the life of the monk Xuan Zang hit the theaters in 2016.

Yoga is becoming increasingly popular in China. China was one of the co-sponsors to the UN resolution designating June 21 as the International Day of Yoga. During the visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to China in May 2015, a Yoga-Taichi performance in the world heritage site of Temple of Heaven was witnessed by Premier Li Keqiang and the Prime Minister. During the same visit, an agreement was signed to establish a Yoga College in Kunming, Yunnan Province.

In recent events, on 20 June 2017, eve of International Day of Yoga, a successful Yoga@Great Wall event was organized at the Juyongguan section of the Great Wall. Minister of State for External Affairs Gen. (Dr) VK Singh (Retd) attended the event. Colors of India Festival showcasing a unique blend of Indian performing arts, Bollywood movies and Indian photography was held from 15-26 May, 2017 at Beijing and Nanjing.

The 2nd International Conference of Indologists-2016 was successfully held at Shenzhen from 11-13 November 2016. The Conference saw participation of more than 75 Indologists from world over including China, Germany, Thailand, Chile and India. An exhibition of Gupta Art at the Palace Museum in Beijing, titled "Across the Silk Road: Gupta Sculptures and their Chinese Counterparts, 400-700 CE" featuring 56 Indian sculptures was held in year 2016.