Modi-Xi meet: Mamallapuram monuments closed to tourists

In this photo released by China's Xinhua News Agency, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, left, and China's President Xi Jinping shake hands as they pose for a photo during a meeting on the sidelines of the BRICS Summit in Xiamen in southeastern China's Fujian Province. (AP photo)

With just four days to go for the high-profile visit by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping, Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) has closed a group of Monuments in the coastal town of Mamallapuram for tourists from Tuesday till Saturday.

Modi and Xi will hold the second India-China Informal Summit on Friday and Saturday in the ancient port of Mamallapuram and visit some of the monuments that have been listed as World Heritage Sites by UNESCO. While the summit will be held at an expensive and luxurious sea front resort in Kovalam, 20 kms from Mamallapuram, the Chinese President will stay at a five-star property owned by the ITC Group here.

Also read — Modi-Xi meet: A stroll and visit to monuments

While the entire coastal town is under a thick blanket of security, the ASI has issued a notice on temporarily closing down the monuments to facilitate the visit of Modi and Xi. The group of monuments include Arjuna’s Penance, Krishna’s Butterball, Shore Temple and Five Rathas — the visiting leaders are likely to take a round of all the four monuments.

“In exercise of powers conferred under Rule 5 of the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Rules, 1959, entry to public is suspended [in the Group of Monuments, Mahabalipuram] from 08.10.2019 to till the completion of VVIP visit due to security reasons,” an order issued by the ASI said.

Also read — Shore temple to be illuminated for Modi-Xi summit

Mamallapuram, the ancient port city that was part of China’s Silk Route during the Pallava regime, is getting ready to welcome the two leaders. Statues of Gautama Buddha would welcome the leaders at vantage points, signifying the rich ties between the two countries, as it is believed Bodhi Dharma of the Pallava dynasty had carried the message of Buddha and propagated Buddhism in China.

Also read — Modi-Xi meet in Mamallapuram, TN CM checks arrangements

The scenic East Coast Road (ECR), which connects Chennai with Mamallapuram, is being spruced up and it looks pristine as Modi and Xi would take this highway to cover the 4-km distance from the helipad to the luxurious resort where the informal summit would take place.

Tamil Nadu Police have brought the entire area under their control by checking every vehicle that passes-by and imposing a blanket ban on surfing and all water activities along the 20-km stretch from Kovalam to Mamallapuram.

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