“It is great weather, whenever we meet, it is so,” Prime Minister Narendra Modi told his Bhutan counterpart Tshering Tobgay as he got off to review the “special and privileged ties” between the two countries.
This was Modi’s second meeting with Tobgay who attended the swearing-in of the Indian Prime Minister.
Thimphu was rain-soaked in the afternoon. But that was not a dampener with Bhutan laying out a reception grand in scale and traditional in tone to welcome PM Modi on his first foreign trip after assuming office.
Soon after his arrival at the Paro international airport, the Indian Prime Minister’s cavalcade drove the picturesque 50km highway to Thimphu as hundreds, including children, lined up along the road to greet Modi. Bhutan Prime Minister Tobgay and senior cabinet colleagues received Modi at the tarmac.
The traditional ‘Chipdrel” procession that showcases the cultural richness of Bhutan greeted Modi at the Tashichhoe Dzong — that also houses the office of King Jigme Kesar Namgyel Wangchuck. A huge portrait of guru Rinpoche, originally known by the name Padma Sambhava, provided backdrop at the forecourt of Dzong where Modi received a guard of honour.
Padma Sambhava who made visits to Bhutan from India beginning in 746 AD spread Buddhism throughout this country.
The Bhutan government has spared no efforts to ensure the visit has all ceremonial pomp and warmth.
Modi will also address the Bhutanese Parliament on Monday.
The quintessential tone of Modi’s first foreign trip is that of friendliness and expectations.
A cutout outside Taj Tashi hotel, where Modi will stay during his Bhutan visit, read, “Welcome to our close friend, India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi.”