Bhutan pulls out all stops to welcome President Pranab Mukherjee

For the second time in five months, Bhutan pulled out all stops to demonstrate its special feelings for India with President Pranab Mukherjee, who has come here on a state visit, being given a rousing ceremonial welcome that dates back to antiquity and that had half of the Bhutanese capital out on the streets.

IANS| Updated: Nov 07, 2014, 15:57 PM IST
Bhutan pulls out all stops to welcome President Pranab Mukherjee

Thimphu: For the second time in five months, Bhutan pulled out all stops to demonstrate its special feelings for India with President Pranab Mukherjee, who has come here on a state visit, being given a rousing ceremonial welcome that dates back to antiquity and that had half of the Bhutanese capital out on the streets.

With cymbals, gongs, drums and trumpets, played by lamas in traditional dresses and headgear, Mukherjee was formally welcomed by King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuk at the Tashichhodzong, the magnificent seat of Bhutan's government which also serves as the king's office besides housing a famous monastery. 

The president followed in the wake of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who came here five months ago, to show how deeply India cared for Bhutan and attached special importance to what Modi had described as an "organic" relationship.

Mukherjee came Friday morning in a special Indian Air Force plane to Paro, from where he drove in a ceremonial carcade to Thimphu, a 56-km route that was lined by flag-waving schoolchildren, villagers and even lamas and colourful flags and buntings representing the five elements.

At places along the route villagers brought out ceremonial offerings of fruits, flowers and incense in honour of the visiting dignitary.

The president is accompanied by several MPs, including BJP leader Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, who is expected to take oath as a minister Sunday, Minister of State for Railways Manoj Sinha, Foreign Secretary Sujatha Singh and senior officials.

Modi had received a similar welcome when he came here June 15-16, less than three weeks after assuming office in what was his foreign visit as prime minister.

The President will hold talks with the king, meet Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay and be present at the signing of an MoU for the establishment of Nalanda University.

He will, before returning to Delhi on Saturday afternoon, witness a special presentation on hydropower cooperation between the two countries.

Hydropower is one of the main pillars of bilateral cooperation, and three hydropower projects, built with Indian help, are already exporting electricity to power-starved Bihar.

In 2008, the two governments agreed to further develop a minimum of 10,000 MW of power generation capacities by 2020 and identified 10 more projects. Power is an important sector of the Bhutanese economy and contributes 12 percent to its GDP.