Prime Minister Narendra Modi embarked on a two-day visit to Nepal on Friday in a bid to further strengthen the bilateral cooperation between the two countries.
This will be Modi's third visit to Nepal and the first high-level visit from India since the formation of the new government in Nepal.
Modi had stressed that the visit, which comes at the invitation of Nepal's prime minister KP Sharma Oli, reflects the "high priority that India attaches to friendly relations with Nepal". He also described the visit as a reflection of his government's commitment to "neighbourhood first" policy and said that as the Himalayan state entered a new era, India would continue to remain its steadfast partner. Modi's visit to Nepal comes just a month after Oli made a three-day visit to India.
Modi, who arrived in Nepal on Friday (11 May), began his trip with a journey from the historic and religious city of Janakpur. Modi visited the Janaki Temple in Janakpur.
Earlier, Modi had noted that Janakpur and Muktinath were "vibrant centres of pilgrimage and tourism" and a "testimony to the strong cultural ties" that bind the two nations.
Modi along with his Nepalese counterpart is expected to jointly inaugurate the Ramayan Circuit Bus Route connecting Janakpur (Sita’s birthplace) to Ayodhya (Ram’s birthplace) after offering prayers at the Janaki Mandir, according to The Himalayan Times. The report, however, noted that Modi's official itinerary was yet to be released.
In Janakpur, the provincial government will separately organise a civic reception in honour of Modi before he flies to Mustang and Kathmandu. Modi also is expected to address the people gathered to welcome him.
Following the reception, the prime minister will travel to Kathmandu, where he will be welcomed by Nepal's minister for foreign affairs Pradeep Kumar Gyawali at the Tribhuwan International Airport.
Modi will then be escorted to the Army Parade Ground in Tundikhel, where a Guard of Honour will be offered to him.
After the Tundikhel event, Modi is expected to call on vice-president Nanda Bahadur Pun and president Bidya Devi Bhandari.
Modi will then proceed to the Hyatt Regency for lunch, following which Oli will receive the prime minister at The Dwarika’s Hotel in Battisputali for a high-level meeting.
Modi is expected to lay the foundation stone for a hydroelectricity project in the eastern Nepal district of Sankhuwasabha through video conferencing, NDTV reported. Sutlej Jal Vidyut Nigam, which is owned by the Indian government, is handling the project in Nepal. The Nepalese prime minister will also be holding a reception in Modi's honour.
On 12 May, Modi will visit the Muktinath Temple situated in Mustang district of northwest Nepal, where he is expected to announce a "surprise gift" for its development, the NDTV report said.
Following the visit to Muktinath Temple, Modi will return to Kathmandu and offer prayers at the Pashupatinath temple, The Himalayan Times reported.
Modi is expected to hold several political meetings with leaders from various parties. The report noted that the Kathmandu Metropolitan City Office is expected to hold a civic reception in Modi's honour.
Modi will leave for New Delhi on Saturday evening.
With inputs from agencies
Updated Date: May 11, 2018 12:14 PM