Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Nepalese counterpart K P Sharma Oli today jointly inaugurated a direct bus service between Janakpur and Ayodhya - the two sacred cities for Hindus.
"Janakpur and Ayodhya are being connected. This is a historic moment," Prime Minister Modi said while inaugurating the bus service as part of the Ramayan Circuit to promote religious tourism in Nepal and India.
Modi flagged off the bus after visiting the famed 20th century Janaki temple, dedicated to the Hindu goddess Sita, where he offered special prayers.
Earlier, Nepalese Prime Minister Oli welcomed his Indian counterpart upon his arrival at the temple complex.
During his two-day visit, PM Modi will hold talks with the neighbouring country’s top leadership with a focus on implementing key India-assisted projects and building mutual trust.
This is the third visit of Prime Minister Modi to Nepal and the first high-level visit from India since the formation of the new Government in Nepal this year.
As It Happened:
09:17 pm: I am visiting Nepal at a very special time. India stands shoulder to shoulder with the people of Nepal: PM Modi
I am visiting Nepal at a very special time. India stands shoulder to shoulder with the people of Nepal. pic.twitter.com/F5PmZDdXyF— PMO India (@PMOIndia) May 11, 2018
09:15 pm: Whether I came to Nepal the Prime Minister, or as a common citizen, the people of Nepal have always accepted me, and have welcomed me like a family member, says PM Modi
09:10 pm: I have had a very old relationship with Nepal, but this is my third visit to Nepal as the Prime Minister: PM Modi
09:04 pm: We agreed to take concrete measures to realise the benefits of new partnership for agriculture & connectivity by rail links & waterways. We have agreed to address all matters by September 19, on our constitution Day: Nepal PM KP Oli
08:59 pm: We discussed the ways to enhance connectivity for our mutual benefit: PM Oli
08:58 pm: Relations between neighbours are different from others. Neighbours have always been our top priority: KP Oli
08:56 pm: PM Modi and Nepal PM KP Oli issue a joint statement in Kathmandu.
07:10 pm: Nepal President Bidhya Devi Bhandari and PM Modi hold talks in Kathmandu. The two leaders discuss various aspects of India-Nepal ties.
06:04 pm: Better connectivity leads to enhanced India-Nepal friendship. That is why topmost priority is being given to boosting connectivity: PM Modi
Better connectivity leads to enhanced India-Nepal friendship. That is why topmost priority is being given to boosting connectivity. pic.twitter.com/qtotpU21nV— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) May 11, 2018
06:00 pm: I fully support Nepal PM's vision of ‘Samriddha Nepal, Sukhi Nepali': PM Modi
Just recently, I had the honour of welcoming Prime Minister Oli to India and today, I have the privilege of meeting him in Nepal.— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) May 11, 2018
I fully support his vision of ‘Samriddha Nepal, Sukhi Nepali.' pic.twitter.com/1O0a3AKzcV
5:10 pm: PM Narendra Modi arrives at Tundikhel Army Parade Ground in Kathmandu
4:51 pm: Prime Minister Narendra Modi meets Nepal Foreign Minister, Pradeep Kumar Gyawali in Kathmandu
4:00 pm: The meeting with the President and the Vice President will be followed by bilateral talks between the two Prime Ministers. Prime Minister Oli will be hosting a dinner in the honour of his Indian counterpart.
3:50 pm: After receiving the guard of honour, the Prime Minister will call on Nepali Vice-President Nanda Bahadur Pun at the Bahadur Bhawan and will head for Shital Niwas to meet Nepali President Bidhya Devi Bhandari.
3:35 pm: Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be conferred with a guard of honour in the Tundikhel ground, near the army headquarters.
3:25 pm: PM Modi heads to Hotel Hyatt Regency in the city, where he will stay during the course of the Prime Minister's two-day visit to Nepal.
3:20 pm: PM Modi was received by Foreign Minister Pradeep Gyawali at the airport.
3:20 pm: PM Modi arrives in Kathmandu after attending the civic reception in the ancient and religious city of Janakpur.
01:45 pm: Nepal has been making rapid development in the field of electricity generation. Today, India supplies about 450 MW of electricity to Nepal. We laid new transmission lines for Nepal: PM Modi.
01:44 pm: PM Modi is wearing a Maithili Kurta gifted to him by KP Sharma Oli: India TV sources
01:38 pm: India's space technology is beneficial for Nepal too: PM Modi
01:37 pm: Nepal comes first in India's Neighbourhood First policy, PM Narendra Modi says at civic reception in Janakpur
01:30 pm: When I talk about 'Sabka Saath Sabka Vikas', I not only talk about India but also about neighbouring countries. I always want the development of our neighbours. Today, I'm happy that Nepal is developing rapidly: PM Modi
01:27 pm: History is proof that whenever there has been a problem, India & Nepal have stood together. We have been there for each other in the most difficult of times: PM Modi
01:20 pm: People of India and Nepal are bound by mutual respect and admiration for each other. Nepal has been a tourism spot for decades for spiritualism. India's faith is incomplete without Nepal: PM Modi
01:19 pm: Both nations stood by each other during tough times, says PM Modi
Culture connects people across boundaries! From the auspicious holy city of Janakpur, PM @narendramodi announced the joint development of the Ramayana Circuit and flagged off a direct bus service between Janakpur and Ayodhya. pic.twitter.com/xActljPmyn— Raveesh Kumar (@MEAIndia) May 11, 2018
01:11 pm: The Indo-Nepal relationship dates back to Treta Yug. King Janak & King Dashratha not only united Janakpur & Ayodhya but also united India & Nepal: PM Modi
01:07 pm: It was my long due wish to visit the land of Goddess Sita and offer my prayers. Today, I am extremely happy and grateful that I got this opportunity: PM Modi
Janaki Mandir - A living testimony to the eternal cultural connect between India and Nepal and our people, PM @narendramodi warmly welcomed at the holy temple dedicated to Mata Sita, by Prime Minister of Nepal K.P Sharma Oli. pic.twitter.com/O3ZHRY8n5T— Raveesh Kumar (@MEAIndia) May 11, 2018
Nepal: Prime Minister Narendra Modi at civic reception in Janakpur pic.twitter.com/OfH1GV1Lqm— ANI (@ANI) May 11, 2018
11:55 am: Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Nepalese counterpart K P Sharma Oli jointly inaugurates direct bus service between Janakpur and Ayodhya.
11:49 am: Today's welcome in Nepal shows the affection the people of Nepal have towards the people of India. Janakpur and Ayodhya are being connected. This is a historic moment : PM Modi
11:40 am: India and Nepal will work towards building 'Ramayan' circuit between both the countries. This will act as foundation for strong people to people contact between the two nations : PM Modi at the launch of bus service between Janakpur-Ayodhya
11:39 am: “It is my honour and a blessing that I got to visit the Janaki temple on the occasion of Ekadashi,” says PM Modi.
11:34 am: I am thankful to Oli ji and Nepal authorities for this warm welcome: PM Modi
11:33 am: I am blessed to offer prayers to Raja Janak and Mata Janaki at Janakpur: PM Modi
11:17 am: PM Modi seeks blessings at different revered spots in the Janaki Temple campus.
11:10 am: PM Modi, accompanied by K P Sharma Oli, offers special prayers at Janaki Temple. Janakpur is considered the birthplace of Goddess Sita.
11:01 am: Modi will visit 20th century Janaki temple and offer special prayers. Later, Prime Minister Modi will be accorded a civic reception by the Janakpur Sub-Metropolitan City at Barhabigha ground.
08:30 am: Ahead of the visit, Foreign Minister Pradeep Gyawali along with India's Ambassador Manjeev Singh Puri visited the city to take stock of the arrangements. The security has been tightened in the city with the deployment of more police personnel.
08:25 am: In the afternoon, the Prime Minister will fly to the capital, Kathmandu, where he will be given a guard of honour by the Nepal Army.
08:15 am: Welcome gates with pictures of Modi and his Nepalese counterpart KP Oli have been installed at different places on the way to the main city area from the Tribhuvan International Airport. Roads have been decorated with flags of Nepal and India.
08:10 am: The prime minister will call on Vice President Nanda Bahadur Pun and President Bidya Devi Bhandari in the afternoon. In the evening, Modi will hold delegation-level talks with Oli. Later, both leaders will jointly lay the foundation stone of Arun-III hydro power project through a remote system and issue a press statement. Modi will also attend a banquet hosted by Prime Minister Oli.
08:00 am: On Saturday, Prime Minister will visit historic Muktinath temple in Mustang district situated in north-west Nepal to offer prayers Modi will attend a reception hosted by Ambassador Puri in his honour. Leaders of various political parties in the country will call on Prime Minister Modi in Kathmandu.
Oli on Tuesday held discussions with former prime ministers and former foreign ministers about Modi's visit. He briefed them about issues to be taken up with Modi and solicited their advice. Oli also informed Parliament about the visit.
The visit is in keeping with the tradition of regular high-level exchanges between India and Nepal, and will enable leaders to discuss matters of mutual interest and to strengthen cooperation in all areas of age-old, multi-faceted and expanding partnership between the two countries, the Ministry of External Affairs said in New Delhi said in a statement last week.
Official sources in New Delhi earlier said that during Modi's two-day visit, India will seek to consolidate relationship with the new Nepalese government headed by Oli who has returned to power riding on a spectacular electoral victory and now leads a stable dispensation after years of political instability.
The prime minister's visit to Nepal is seen as an attempt by both the countries to bring back normalcy in ties after a spell of uneasiness as it comes little over a month after his Nepalese counterpart K P Sharma Oli came to India.
The aim will also be to bring "substance" and "seriousness" in ties, a source said, while expressing the hope that "it will further build trust between the two neighbours".
They said both sides will deliberate on the implementation of the ambitious rail project to link Kathmandu with Raxaul in Bihar and connecting landlocked Nepal with river transport system with India, apart from several other key connectivity projects.
India had offered these mega projects during Oli's visit here last month, seen as a move to counter China's efforts to expand influence over Kathmandu by offering various infrastructure projects.
Nepalese PM Oli had visited India around a month back which was seen as an attempt to repair Nepal's ties with New Delhi. In 2016, Oli had publicly criticised India for interfering in Nepal's internal matters and accused it of toppling his government over the issue of Madhesis, who are mostly of Indian-origin.
Modi and Oli are likely to sign a number of pacts and inaugurate the Rs 6000-crore Arun 3 project which is expected to generate around 900 MW of power.
The sources said there may be an announcement on the proposed Ramayan circuit, under which fifteen destinations like Ayodhya, Nandigram, Shringverpur and Chitrakoot will be developed to promote religious tourism.