Chinese President Xi Jinping shakes hands with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi during the G20 Summit in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, China. Photograph:( Reuters )
Chinese President Xi is an enthusiast of history and culture and it was evident to PM during the first informal summit in Wuhan so India was looking for the venue with a world heritage site the source explained.
As India gets ready to host Chinese President Xi Jinping for the second India-China informal summit, it was history and PM Modi's desire to showcase other parts of India that clinched Mahabalipuram as the venue of the meet between two most important leaders of Asia.
While the Indian authorities looked at many locations, Mahabalipuram's world heritage tag "with a strong connection with China" and PM's view "that we need to show other parts of India and particularly southern India" became the deciding factor a source told WION.
Chinese President Xi is an enthusiast of history and culture and it was "evident to PM during the first informal summit in Wuhan" so India was "looking for the venue with a world heritage site" the source explained.
Mahabalipuram is a world heritage site and was listed in 1984. Chinese Buddhist monk Xuanzang had visited Kanchipuram during Pallava dynasty and spoken about his visit elaborately. Mahabalipuram has been a major port city during the Pallava kingdom in the 7th century.
Bodhidharma who had spread Zen Buddhism to China had set sail from the coast of Tamil Nadu and landed in present-day Guangdong (Canton) Province. A small temple has been constructed at a place where he landed and former President Pranab Mukherjee paid a visit there in 2016.
And then there is the sea connect. There has been a major trading connection between Pallava and Chola kingdoms of South India with the southeastern coast of China particularly the province of Fujian and city of Quanzhou. A large amount of physical evidence has been found like coins and pottery from China's Song dynasty in and discovery of Indian temple architecture that part of china. China's song dynasty had maintained diplomatic ties with the Chola kingdom. It is interesting to know, President Xi has been the governor of Fujian, which "clinched the venue."
A source said, "We were given clear guidance that we are to look for a venue outside the national capital. PM has been favouring practise of taking foreign dignitaries outside the national capital and showcase other parts of India. Outside objective to do outside Delhi."
Visiting global leaders like President Xi has been previously taken to Ahmadabad, French President Emmanuel Macron has been to Varanasi, German Chancellor Angela Merkel has been to Bengaluru, Japanese PM Shinzo abe has been to both Ahmedabad and Varanasi.
Overall the idea was to showcase "tourism potential of Tamil Nadu" also played in the background when the venue was being decided.
The town, which according to one estimate is one of the most visited towns of south India has "group of Hindu monuments" which are UNESCO world heritage sites as its key focus points.
The monument consists of 7th and 8th century-old open-air rock sculptures such as "descent of the Ganges" and famous Shore temple.