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Business for President, heritage for first lady

On the second day of her Indian safari, the Chinese first lady put on her walking shoes and hopped from Rajghat to the Qutub Minar, reports Vidya Krishnan.

india Updated: Nov 22, 2006 05:59 IST

The President spent his day working, while his better half savoured the charm of the national capital — soaking up its heritage and marvelling at its   diversity and old world charm.

On the second day of her Indian safari, the Chinese first lady, Liu Yongqing, put on her walking shoes and hopped from Rajghat to the Qutub Minar — touching quite a few places in between.

The day began with Liu accompanying her husband to the Rashtrapati Bhawan for a ceremonial welcome. It was followed by a visit to Rajghat to pay tribute to Mahatma Gandhi, where President Hu signed the visitors’ book in Chinese saying Mahatma Gandhi was the “Pride of the Indian people.”

“They stayed in Rajghat for 15 minutes and did not have the time to interact with any officials,” said a Rajghat Samadhi Committee official. The Rajghat Samadhi Committee presented the first couple a book on Mahatma’s teachings, a calendar and a souvenir.

From Rajghat, the President and his wife parted ways — President Hu to his business meetings and the first lady decided to take a crash course in Indian        history.

Her first stop was the National Museum. The museum is home to an array of Buddhist and Chinese exhibits — ranging from jewellery, paintings, arms and manuscripts. However, the media was not allowed inside. Unlike the whistlestop tour of the museum, Liu spent over an hour at the Qutub Minar, learning about the 12th century monument.

“She spent an hour here and was curious about the monument’s history. As sandstone is not very common in China, she was fascinated by the structure and kept touching and feeling the texture of the stone.

She posed in front of every monument — big and small inside the Qutub complex,” said S.K. Singh, an official from the Archeological Survey of India (ASI), who was the tour guide.

After the guided tour, Liu presented the ASI officials with souvenirs and appreciated their effort.

The official said Liu was fascinated by the blend of Hindu and Muslim architecture.

“Though she did not know much about the history of the monument, she interested in the architecture. She knew that the monument was a victory tower and had inscriptions in both Arabic and Nagari characters at several places. In the hour that she spent on the premises, she checked out each and every structure,” Singh said.