The second “informal summit” between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and China’s President Xi Jinping began on Friday at Mamallapuram, a town famously associated with Pallava rulers, with the two leaders spending the evening together for a few hours and getting a glimpse of the blend of south Indian art and culture.
In April 2018, the first summit took place in Wuhan in the wake of the Doklam crisis. The present meeting is being held in the midst of China reacting strongly to the Indian government’s decision on Article 370 and bifurcation of Jammu & Kashmir.
As soon as Mr. Xi, who arrived in Chennai at about 2 p.m., reached Mamallapuram around 5 pm to begin the meeting, Mr. Modi, dressed in the traditional attire of Tamil Nadu, received him. While taking Mr. Xi on a tour of the monuments — Arjuna’s Penance, Panch (Five) Rathas and the Shore Temple — for over an hour, Mr. Modi was seen explaining different features of the monuments to the visiting dignitary.
After taking a close look at the Varaha Cave, located behind the Arjuna’s Penance. they displayed camaraderie by raising hands together in the backdrop of another monument, Krishna’s Butter Ball [which is a natural rock formation, perched precariously on the hillock slope].
At the Panch Rathas, when Mr. Modi and Mr. Xi relaxed for a while, the former served the latter tender coconut water. After going around the Shore Temple, they watched a cultural programme presented by artists of Kalakshetra Foundation.
The programme, lasting about 45 minutes, was a mixture of “Bharatanatyam,” the form of classical dance of Tamil Nadu and regarded as one of the oldest forms of classical dances of India, and “Kathakali,” the classical dance of Kerala.
It ended with the recital of “Raghupati Raghava Raja Ram,” a favourite ‘bhajan’ song of Mahatma Gandhi. Later, the two leaders took a photograph with all the artists. In the ambience of the Shore Temple, Mr. Modi hosted a dinner for Mr Xi.
“The free flowing nature of the informal summit at the UNESCO world heritage site will continue and deepen contacts at the highest level and guide the future trajectory of India-China relationship,” External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Ravesh Kumar tweeted.