PM Modi Holds Talks With Nepal PM Sher Bahadur Deuba, Key Points From Nepal Visit

PM Modi offered prayers at Maya Devi Temple and laid the foundation stone of a Buddhist cultural centre with PM Deuba.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi with Nepali Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday met Nepali Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba during his day-long visit to Nepal's Lumbini on the occasion of Buddha Purnima and held talks to strengthen ongoing bilateral cooperation and develop new areas in the partnership.

Their discussion is likely to focus on further expanding cooperation in multiple areas, including hydropower and connectivity. Some memorandums of understanding on cooperation in cultural and educational sectors are expected to be exchanged between the two countries after the Modi-Deuba talks.

Ahead of his visit, Modi had said that his visit to Nepal is intended to further deepen the "time-honoured" linkages between the two countries, adding both sides will continue to build on the shared understanding to expand ties in multiple areas, including hydropower and connectivity.

"Our ties with Nepal are unparalleled. The civilisational and people-to-people contacts between India and Nepal form the enduring edifice of our close relationship," Modi had said in his departure statement.

Here are the key points of PM Modi's brief visit:

Modi offered prayers at Maya Devi Temple

PM Modi offered prayers at Maya Devi Temple in Lumbini, the birthplace of Buddha. Nepali PM Deuba accompanied Modi on his visit to the temple.

The two Prime Ministers also lit lamps near the Ashoka Pillar located adjacent to the temple. The pillar, which was erected by Emperor Ashoka in 249 BCE, bears the first epigraphic evidence of Lumbini being the birthplace of Buddha.

"I feel blessed to have prayed at the Maya Devi Temple on Buddha Purnima. May Lord Buddha bless us all and make our planet peaceful and prosperous," said Modi in a tweet about the visit.

PMs Modi, Deuba laid foundation stone for Buddhist cultural centre

Prime Ministers Narendra Modi and Sher Bahadur Deuba laid the foundation stone of India International Centre for Buddhist Culture and Heritage in Lumbini.

The foundation stone-laying ceremony, presided by both Modi and Deuba, was performed by monks belonging to three major Buddhist traditions — Theravada, Mahayana and Vajrayana. Following the ceremony, Modi and Deuba also unveiled a model of the Centre.

The Centre will be constructed by the International Buddhist Confederation, New Delhi, on a plot allocated by the Lumbini Development Trust under an agreement signed in March 2022, said the Ministry of External Affairs in a statement.

"This Centre will deepen the cultural and people-to-people linkages between India and Nepal," said the Prime Minister's Office.

This is PM Modi's fifth visit to Nepal 

This is PM Modi's fifth visit to Nepal since assuming office in 2014. 

This is in sharp contrast to earlier decades which saw fewer visits from New Delhi to Nepal.

Constantino Xavier, a South Asia expert at Centre for Social and Economic Progress, noted in a tweet that while Modi has now visited Nepal five times in eight years, there were only two visits by Indian prime ministers to Nepal between 1993-2013. 

Second Modi-Deuba talks in two months

Nepali Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba visited India last month and held talks with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and held a number of engagements, including a visit to temples in Varanasi. 

The April's visit to India was Deuba's first foreign visit after assuming office as Nepal's prime minister for the fifth time in July 2021.

The Monday's talks will be therefore second round of talks between the two leaders within two months. 

Visit highlights focus on India-Nepal cultural ties

Prime Minister Narendra Modi had expressed desire to visit Lumnini, the birthplace of Buddha, earlier as well, but those plans could not materialise. 

Earlier, Modi has visited important religious and cultural sites in Nepal such as Pashupatinath temple in Kathmandu, Janaki temple in Janakpurdham — the birthplace of Sita, and Muktinath temple in Mustang. 

A large number of Indian pilgrims go to holy sites in Nepal and a large number of families have cross-border relationships, which is often called "roti-beti ka rishta", particularly in bordering Indian states of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar.

Last month, Nepali PM Deuba had also visited temples in Varanasi, including Pashupatinath temple located at Lalita Ghat. Several Nepali leaders have links to India and Nepal's influential Koirala family has ties to Varanasi, which has also had earlier historical association with Nepali elites. 

(With PTI inputs)