Mauritius PM visits Nalanda and Gaya

February 20th, 2008 - 9:57 pm ICT by admin  

A file-photo of Navinchandra Ramgoolam

Patna, Feb 20 (IANS) Mauritius Prime Minister Navinchandra Ramgoolam Wednesday ended his emotional three-day visit to the land of his ancestors, Bihar, by visiting the remains of the ancient Nalanda University and the Buddhist holy city Bodh Gaya. Before leaving for Mauritius, Ramgoolam stressed closer cultural ties between Bihar and Mauritius.

“We will strengthen our cultural ties,” he said while addressing a press meet jointly with Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar in Bodh Gaya.

Ramgoolam said that his visit to Bihar is a new beginning after Nitish Kumar’s visit to Mauritius last year.

The chief minister announced that the state government will set up a Mauritius Cultural Centre here to strengthen bilateral ties and to help Mauritians of Bihar origin to trace their roots.

Earlier in the day, Ramgoolam visited Mahabodhi temple in Bodh Gaya, where Buddha is believed to have attained enlightenment about 2,550 years back. Ramgoolam also offered prayers in Mahabodhi temple.

“Ramgoolam during his visit was impressed by Mahabodhi temple and Bodhi tree,” a senior official said.

In Nalanda, officials of Archaeological Survey of India briefed him about the great Chinese traveller Huan Tsang who studied and taught at the university.

Officials said Ramgoolam was also briefed on the proposed Nalanda International University and the road-map drawn for the development of 200 villages adopted by the university.

Ramgoolam, accompanied by wife Veena and an official delegation, Monday began a three-day visit to Bihar.

Overcome by emotion on visiting the land of his ancestors for the first time, the prime minister touched the ground, after alighting from the aircraft here, and quickly smeared some mud on his forehead.

A rousing and traditional welcome was given to Ramgoolam Tuesday at his ancestral village in Bhojpur district that was decked up like a bride by the residents and the local administration.

He was welcomed in style with loud drumbeats and villagers raising slogans in his praise. A group of women sang Bhojpuri folk songs while schoolchildren greeted him on the way from the helipad to the village.

Ramgoolam announced a grant of $250,000 for the development of roads and a hospital in his ancestral village.

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