President Pranab Mukherjee was on Friday feted at a civic reception in Janakpur, a holy city in southern Nepal best known for its famous Ram-Janaki temple.
On behalf of the people of Janapkur, the local municipality organised the reception for the Indian head of state that was attended by Nepal’s deputy prime minister Bimalendra Nidhi, who also holds the home affairs portfolio.
In a symbolic gesture, officials handed over the key of the city to Mukherjee to show that he would always be welcome in Janakpur.
“I am really grateful to the people of Janakpur,” said Mukherjee. “The holy land of Janakpur…has inspired Indians for research, promoted culture and enriched knowledge.”
He highlighted the religious and cultural aspects of Janakpur and surrounding areas, saying India is building two ‘dharmashalas’ in Janakpur and integrated check posts at Birgunj and Birtanagar. It is also planning some work to boost tourism in the region, he added.
Nidhi called on India to help in the development of Janakpur and said steps should to be taken to list Janakpur as a must visit religious site for Indian visitors.
Earlier, Mukherjee performed a special puja at the Ram-Janaki temple, becoming the third Indian president to do so. Mukherjee prayed before the golden idols of Rama and Sita in the sanctum sanctorum in accordance with Vedic rituals after he was welcomed by mahanta (main priest) Ram Tapeshwar.
Former presidents Neelam Sanjiva Reddy and Giani Zail Singh had visited the temple.