The historical town of Mahabalipuram or Mamallapuram, which is 60 kilometres away from the Chennai city, is again getting global prominence ahead of the informal bilateral meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping. The meeting is scheduled to take place from October 11-13, which is seen as a significant occasion.
Officials from the MEA, Tamil Nadu government and Chinese officials have been working day and night since the last fortnight to ensure smooth management during the meeting between the two world leaders. The state government is making sure that the roads connecting Chennai and Mahabalipuram are developed. Some parts of the roads including East coast road, Old Mahabalipuram Road and the GST road are being recoated.
1,400-year-old structures in Mahabalipuram, including the Shore Temple and Pancha Pandava raths, are being polished as the foreign dignitaries will be visiting the UNESCO recognised heritage sites, built by the Pallava kings from 7th to 9th century.
The ancient Pallava town has been chosen for the Modi-Xi meeting keeping in mind that Mahabalipuram was once the port way, which had connections with South East Asian countries like China that goes back to 7th to 9th century. It is also believed that the emperors before Pallavas also had trade deals with ancient China which adds significance to the destination of the meeting.
Meanwhile, security has been beefed up in the area with around 2,000 policemen already on duty, and additional 5,000+ policemen to be deployed when the leaders will visit the town. Considering the security reasons, shops in-and-around the town have been shut down a week before the meet and the fishermen have been asked not to venture into the sea. On Monday, the Indian coast guard will begin patrolling and guarding the 40 kms stretch from Chennai to Mahabalipuram.
As per sources, both the leaders are expected to arrive at Chennai airport on the evening of October 11, following which they will reach Mahabalipuram through road. The sources have also added that PM Modi is hosting a dinner for Chinese dignitaries on October 11 night which will be followed by cultural programmes. On the second day, both the leaders will visit various cultural heritage sites like Pancha Pandava raths and the beach facing Shore Temple, followed by a closed-door meeting in the evening. On the morning of October 13, the leaders are expected to leave the town. The informal-bilateral meeting which is taking place between PM Modi Chinese President will be of diplomatic importance since the trade factors will be discussed.