Direct A-I flights between Colombo, Varanasi from Aug: Modi | cities | Hindustan Times
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Direct A-I flights between Colombo, Varanasi from Aug: Modi

cities Updated: May 12, 2017 23:26 IST

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday announced that India’s national carrier Air India will begin direct flights between Colombo and the holy city of Varanasi from August.

Modi, who is on a two-day visit to Sri Lanka, made the announcement of the beginning of the flights during his address at the inauguration of the International Vesak Day, the biggest festival of Buddhists.

He said the flights will allow “my Tamil brothers and sisters” to visit Varanasi, the land of Kashi Vishwanath.

At a distance of 10 kilometres from Varanasi, lies Sarnath, one of the most revered Buddhist pilgrimage centres.

It is believed that after attaining enlightenment at Bodh Gaya in Bihar, it was in Sarnath that Lord Buddha preached his first sermon, sanctified as Maha Dharm Chakra Parivartan.

The direct flights will aid pilgrims from Sri Lanka, a Buddhist-majority country, to visit Sarnath.

Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh is the parliamentary constituency of the prime minister. He contested the 2014 Lok Sabha election from there.

This is Modi’s second visit to Sri Lanka in two years. He arrived on Thursday primarily to attend the International Vesak Day celebrations and his visit is aimed at reinforcing the traditional connect between India and Sri Lanka.