The first train carrying 288 delegates from Tamil Nadu to Saurashtra region in Gujarat aimed at strengthening ties between the two states as part of the upcoming 'Saurashtra Tamil Sangamam' was flagged off here by Governor R N Ravi on Saturday.
The special train which departed from Madurai on April 14 arrived at the Chennai Egmore Railway Station here in the early hours of Saturday.
Ravi flagged off the train, which has four coaches earmarked for delegates, and will reach Veraval in Gujarat after a 36-hour journey, Southern Railway officials said.
On the lines of the recently concluded Kashi-Tamil Sangamam, the Centre has organised Saurashtra Tamil Sangamam under the 'Ek Bharat Shreshtha Bharat' initiative spearheaded by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Saurashtra Tamil Sangamam is another unique exercise with the objective of enhanced and continuous mutual interaction between people of varied regions and ways of life, the official website of the campaign said.
It would be a unique example to showcase the oneness of India to the world that the Saurashtra Tamils have assimilated with traditions of Tamil Nadu and as well as preserved their language and traditions, the website stated.
Saurashtra Tamils have actively participated in the freedom movement and also contributed to the art, trade and industry of Tamil Nadu that has earned the GI tag for the sarees and fabrics that they have produced with excellent skills, it said.
"Several thousand brothers and sisters of Tamil Nadu are on cultural pilgrimage to Saurashtra to refresh and strengthen their thousand years connection," the Raj Bhavan said in its official Twitter account.
"First enthusiastic batch flagged off at Chennai Egmore Railway Station. Hearty thanks to visionary Prime Minister Modi for Saurashtra Tamil Sangamam, a sequel to Kashi-Tamil Sangamam demonstrating the organic cultural unity of Bharat," it said.
Southern Railway officials said Veravel in Gujarat is the nearest railway station to the famous Somnath Temple. The delegates would take part in various cultural exchange programmes in Gujarat, an official release said.
Saurashtra Tamil Sangamam is a unique exercise to facilitate a consistent and improved exchange between individuals from diverse regions and lifestyles.
Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare Mansukh Mandaviya, who was in Chennai last month to announce the 'Saurashtra Tamil Sangamam' programme, termed it as a “milestone” event in the ties between Tamil Nadu and Gujarat.
The forthcoming Saurashtra Tamil Sangamam would be the very first "largest and holistic reunion" of the two states after several centuries, Mandaviya, who hails from Gujarat, had said then.
The 10-day event is scheduled to commence from April 17 and will be held in multiple locations in Gujarat in the Saurashtra region.
The conference is aimed at rediscovering and celebrating the 1,000-year-old contribution of Saurashtrian Tamils.
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