JANAKPUR: Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Nepalese counterpart K P Sharma Oli today jointly inaugurated a direct bus service between Janakpur and Ayodhya - the two sacred cities for Hindus.
"Janakpur and Ayodhya are being connected. This is a historic moment," Prime Minister Modi said while inaugurating the bus service as part of the Ramayan Circuit to promote religious tourism in Nepal and India.
Modi flagged off the bus after visiting the famed 20th century Janaki temple, dedicated to the Hindu goddess Sita, where he offered special prayers.
The Indian government has identified 15 destinations in India for development under the Ramayana Circuit theme namely Ayodhya, Nandigram, Shringverpur & Chitrakoot (Uttar Pradesh), Sitamarhi, Buxar & Darbhanga (Bihar), Chitrakoot (Madhya Pradesh), Mahendragiri (Odisha), Jagdalpur (Chattisgarh), Nashik & Nagpur (Maharashtra), Bhadrachalam (Telangana), Hampi (Karnataka) and Rameshwaram (Tamil Nadu).
Earlier, Nepalese Prime Minister Oli welcomed his Indian counterpart upon his arrival at the temple complex.
"I am glad to be here in Janakpur. I am here to pay respects to King Janak and Mata Janaki. I thank the PM of Nepal Shri Oli for accompanying me during this visit to Janakpur," Modi said.
Thousands of people have gathered in the Janaki temple premises to welcome Modi.
Janaki temple has got a new look as the temple was cleaned up and decorated with lights.
"Today's welcome in Nepal shows the affection the people of Nepal have towards the people of India," Modi told the gathering. Janakpur is known as the birth place of Sita, the wife of Lord Rama. Janaki temple was built in memory of Sita in 1910.
The three-storied structure made entirely of stone and marble is 50-metre high and spread over 4860 sq feet.
Earlier, Defence Minister Ishwar Pokhrel and Province 2 Chief Minister Lalbabu Raut received Prime Minister Modi at the airport upon his arrival.
This is the third visit of Prime Minister Modi to Nepal and the first high-level visit from India since the formation of the new Government in Nepal this year.