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The two major travellers to India, Faxian and Xuanzang visited India from the circuitous western route, while the third one Yijing travelled by sea. Xuanzang described hardships in his journey, and crossed the western frontier in defiance of a ban by the emperor.

The Tea Horse Route, through Sikkim-Tibet seems shorter and intuitively easier to cross, since the Silk Road passes through the Gobi Desert, the Taklamakan Desert, and hostile territory, under influence of Central Asian nomads.

Silk Road The Western Route through Silk Road

Tea Horse Road The Tea Horse Road

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    I suspect part of the answer is "Himalaya". – Evargalo Sep 29 '20 at 6:24
  • Could you clarify which picture stands for what aspect of the question? – gktscrk Sep 29 '20 at 14:20
  • Which if the routes is flatter & which one has a lower elevation above sea level? A steep route & one into a very cold regions will always be more arduous than a flatter route & where the weather is milder. – Fred Sep 30 '20 at 22:05
  • That second map is suspect, since Dhaka and Kolkata did not exist during the time of the Silk Road. – Spencer Oct 18 '20 at 12:56

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