The first outcome of Narendra Modi’s Japan trip was a deal to partner the old imperial capital of Japan, Kyoto, with Varanasi, the holiest of Hindu cities and the Prime Minister’s parliamentary constituency.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi (front R) shakes hands with Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe upon his arrival at the State Guest House in Kyoto, western Japan. (Reuters/Kyodo Photo)
The two will become "partner city affiliates", sharing best practices on heritage conservation and city modernisation, and cooperating on culture, art and academics.
Varanasi, known for its temples, colourful river aartis and cremation ghats, is in crying need of modernisation, but without losing any of its character.
Kyoto, home to Buddhist shrines and state-of-the-art scientific laboratories, has a population of 1.5 million, similar to Varanasi, which has between 1.2 million and 1.4 million inhabitants.
A group of officials from Kyoto will make a presentation to Modi on Sunday, the second day of his visit, an external affairs spokesperson said.
Modi wants to make Varanasi the "spiritual capital of India", and the Prime Minister’s Office is reported to have given specific inputs for Varanasi to the concerned authorities.
Varanasi is among some 15 holy cities that have been chosen for a major facelift.
The Prime Minister's constituency is also part of the Rs. 100 crore project to develop the riverfront and the integrated Ganga conversation mission.