Prince visits Anandpur Sahib in Punjab

The 58-year-old heir to the British throne and Camilla, with her head was covered with a white cloth, bowed and offered prayers.

india Updated: Mar 30, 2006 19:08 IST

Britain's Prince Charles and his wife Camilla were warmly welcomed at a major Sikh shrine in Punjab Tuesday as part of a six-day tour to promote organic farming.

"He's coming," shouted a woman in excitement, as turbaned security men held hands to protect the royal couple as they walked to the Anandpur Sahib gurudwara (temple), the most important Sikh shrine after the Golden Temple in Amritsar.

Wearing a red scarf on his head as a mark of respect, the 58-year-old heir to the British throne and Camilla, whose head was covered with a white cloth, bowed and offered prayers once inside.

A Sikh priest presented the pair with a sword and a shawl, after which the couple watched a traditional martial arts performance at the temple, which dates from 1664.

"It was a perfect visit," said state spokesman Surinder Malik at the site which is considered the birthplace of the "khalsa," a brotherhood of devotees founded in response to persecution by Mughal authorities.

"He intermingled with the devotees and was honoured with a robe of honour by the head priest," Malik added.

The royals spent Tuesday visiting historical sites in Punjab state after promoting pesticide-free farming at a tiny village the day before.

Punjab holds the dubious distinction of being the country's largest consumer of chemical insecticides.

From Wednesday, the couple will spend three days in Rajasthan, where the prince will attend a water conservation conference and meet international business leaders.

Charles and Camilla are on the final leg of a tour that has taken them to Egypt and Saudi Arabia.

It is Camilla's second official trip abroad with Charles, after the United States, since their marriage last April.

The prince, who travelled to India with his first wife Princess Diana 14 years ago, returned to the republic on a private trip in October 2003.

First Published: Mar 28, 2006 18:53 IST