Mahinda Rajapaksa prays at Bodh Gaya

Bodh Gaya (Bihar): Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa flew to India on Friday and prayed in Bodh Gaya at a temple site where Lord Buddha attained enlightenment.

The president, whose two-day visit has sparked scattered protests in India, drove to the Mahabodhi temple shortly after his flight from Colombo landed at Gaya town.

Sri Lankan president Mahinda Rajapaksa prays at Bodh Gaya. PTI

Sri Lankan president Mahinda Rajapaksa prays at Bodh Gaya. PTI

Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar received him and his officials, Indian authorities said.

"The president and his delegation spent nearly an hour (at the temple)," a police official said.

Security personnel and security forces deployed by the state government did not allow journalists to talk to him.

After offering prayers, Rajapaksa left Bodh Gaya for Tirupati in Andhra Pradesh.

According to a police official, over a dozen people, mostly workers of the Communist Party of India Marxist Leninist (CPI-ML), staged a protest near the temple minutes before his visit.

The protesters shouted slogans and tried to stage a sit-in but police detained them.

Bodh Gaya's 1,500-year-old Mahabodhi Temple is considered the holiest Buddhist shrine. It was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2002.