President Patil visits Forbidden City



Beijing: On the third day of her State visit, President Pratibha Patil on Friday admired the "grandeur of China's past" when she visited Forbidden City in the heart of the capital, where Ming and Qing dynasties ruled 600 years ago.

s Patil, sitting in a golf cart along with her husband Devisingh Shekhawat, went around the 74-hectare complex, a day after she held wide-ranging discussions with Chinese President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao.

Once an imperial palace, the Forbidden City is now known as the Palace Museum and is the world's largest palace complex with 9,999 rooms.

"The visit to the forbidden city in Beijing was a unique experience. I take back memories and this splendour and grandeur of China's glorious past which, like India, is an ancient civilisation," Patil wrote in the visitor's book after visiting the emperor's throne in the main hall, Tai Hebial.

Listed by UNESCO as the World Heritage Site in 1987, the Palace Museum is now one of the most popular tourist attractions worldwide. It was constructed in 1407.

"Harmony halls show the importance given to the concept of harmony in the Chinese civilisation. I deeply appreciate this. My very warm greetings to the people of China. My good wishes for their progress and prosperity," the President wrote.

Patil also visited the Temple of Heaven, which is much bigger than forbidden city and is situated in an area of about 27,00000 square metres.

"It has been a pleasure for me to visit the Temple of Heaven which depicts China's rich architectural heritage with great aesthetic beauty," she said.

Due to heavy downpour, the President could not tour the entire complex. Patil, who is here on a six-day visit, had yesterday met Hu and Wen and discussed bilateral issues and the ways and means to enhance cooperation in various fields.

PTI