Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrived in Nepal on Monday for a brief visit to Lumbini, the birthplace of Gautam Buddha, and attended the groundbreaking ceremony of the India International Center for Buddhist Culture and Heritage.
Through this, India will join more than a dozen countries, including China, Thailand, Vietnam, Myanmar, Japan, Taiwan and South Korea, with a center of its own in Lumbini.
After landing, the Prime Minister tweeted, “Glad to be among the wonderful people of Nepal on the special occasion of Buddha Purnima. Looking forward to the ceremony in Lumbini.”
Through the tour, India marks an official presence at the holy site, 10 kilometers from the border.
Prime Minister Modi also prayed at the Maya Devi Temple in Lumbini along with Nepal’s Prime Minister Deuba. They are watering a tree together at the Maya Devi temple. Sharing the photo on Twitter, the Prime Minister’s Office called it “an everlasting bond of friendship.”
On his way back to Delhi, Prime Minister Modi will visit the Mahaparinirvana Temple in Kushinagar, UP, which is said to be the abode of Lord Buddha. He is also scheduled to make a short stop in Lucknow to meet Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath.
This is Prime Minister Modi’s fifth visit to Nepal since 2014. Modi reached Lumbini in a special Indian Air Force helicopter from Kushinagar in Uttar Pradesh.
Lumbini, located in the Terai plain of southern Nepal, is one of the holiest sites of Buddhism, as Lord Buddha is believed to have been born there.
Prime Minister Modi and his Nepali counterpart Deuba will also hold a bilateral meeting in Lumbini.
“During the meeting, they will exchange views on Nepal-India cooperation and mutual interests,” a statement from Nepal’s foreign ministry said.
In his departure statement on Sunday, Modi said, “The purpose of my visit is to celebrate and deepen these time-honored connections that have been cherished for centuries and enshrined in our long history of merging.”
According to the Indian embassy, Foreign Minister S Jayashankar, Foreign Secretary Quatra, National Security Adviser Ajit Doval and other senior officials will be accompanying the Prime Minister on his visit, PTI reported.
(With agency input)