17/05/2015 7:58 AM IST | Updated 15/07/2016 8:25 AM IST

India Privileged To Be Mongolia's Neighbour, Says Modi

JOHANNES EISELE via Getty Images
India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi delivers a speech at the India-China Business Forum in Shanghai on May 16, 2015. Indian and Chinese firms signed 21 agreements officials said were worth a total of more than 22 billion USD witnessed by visiting Prime Minister Narendra Modi. AFP PHOTO / JOHANNES EISELE (Photo credit should read JOHANNES EISELE/AFP/Getty Images)

ULAN BATOR — Narendra Modi, the first Indian prime minister to visit Mongolia, told his Mongolian counterpart Chimed Saikhanbileg on Sunday that India is privileged to be considered as Mongolia's spiritual neighbour.

Modi, the first Indian prime minister to visit Mongolia, was earlier accorded a ceremonial welcome at the State Palace and later sat down for delegation talks with Saikhanbileg.

Modi, accompanied by the Mongolian leader, took the salute by the red and blue liveried armed forces.

The State Palace or Government House, built in the 1950s, is where the Mongolian president, parliament speaker and prime minister work from. It also houses the parliament hall.The State Palace also houses a statue of Genghis Khan.

Earlier, Modi visited the ancient Gandan Monastery in the Mongolian capital and also presented a sapling of the revered Bodhi tree to the chief abbot of the Buddhist temple.

Modi also lit incense at the monastery, also known as the Gandantegchinlen Monastery. He was accorded a ceremonial welcome by the chief abbot, Hamba Lama, who gifted him a blue silken scarf and a token.

Modi met 150 monks at the monastery and also saw the Buddhist relics at the museum.He took a round of the monastery. He also went to the Janraisag Monastery, inside the Gandan monastery complex. The Janraisag monastery houses a 26-metre tall statue of Janraisag Buddha.

The Gandantegchinlen Monastery was established in 1835 by the Fifth Jebtsundamba, the highest reincarnated lama of Mongolia. The monastery has three colleges of Buddhist philosophy: a medical and astrological college, a Kalachakra temple, a Jud Tantric College and an the Migjid Janraisig temple which houses the Avalokiteshvara statue.

Most Buddhist monasteries in Mongolia were destroyed during the communist regime, which lasted until 1990. The only one to survive was the Gandan Monastery.

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