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Home » Spruced up and fortified, TN port town Mamallapuram awaits Xi, Modi | India News
TimesofIndia International

Spruced up and fortified, TN port town Mamallapuram awaits Xi, Modi | India News

MAMALLAPURAM (TAMIL NADU): Chinese President Xi Jinping will brave challenging roads on Friday afternoon when he drives into town in his Hongqi L5 sedan (like the US president and his ‘Beast’, Xi too rides in his own secure vehicle). The state government is making sure it leaves no stone unturned in both security and beautification even as the Coast Guard keeps a watchful eye off shore.
Tamil Nadu chief minister E K Palaniswami drove into Mamallapuram on Thursday evening with his entourage to oversee arrangements. A Chinese security team has been here to check things out for their leader.
The easy paced lifestyle of the local population has been challenged these past days, as security barricades have mushroomed everywhere, and zigzag police checkpoints, a la New Delhi, have made their appearance here. Security cameras now dot the median of the East Coast Road that Xi will drive on to get to Mamallapuram.
Over the next couple of days, PM Narendra Modi and Xi will get some time to themselves, though not as much as was initially anticipated. Xi touches down in Chennai around lunchtime and will undertake an hour-long drive to this seashore town around 4 pm. He will be received by the Tamil Nadu CM and the governor, local officials said.
Amid the dying sun – just as well, because this place is still very hot – Modi will guide Xi through the famous monuments of Arjuna’s Penance, Panch Rathas and the Shore Temple before the leaders settle down to watch a Kalakshetra performance of Bharatnatyam. In a special gesture, Modi and Xi will have dinner under the stars in the Shore Temple itself.
Mamallapuram has a long history of connections with China and in some parts, archaeological excavations have revealed the presence of Chinese coins.
Xi will return to his hotel in Chennai after dinner, and return to Mamallapuram the next morning. He and Modi will have just about another hour to themselves before they are joined by their delegations – S Jaishankar and Ajit Doval on the Indian side and Wang Yi and Yang Jiechi on the Chinese side. After lunch, Xi will return to the airport to fly off to Nepal for the rest of the day.
En route to Mamallapuram, Xi will encounter numerous shops still engaged in exquisite stone carvings. But there is a little village Kuzhipanthandalam, which has a small role to play in India-China relations. On December 6, 1956, the then Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai drove through the village, described as a “model” village (this was the Kamraj period and the first five-year-plan), when the locals asked him to stop and inaugurate a newly-built maternity centre. Zhou obliged, even drank from a green coconut.
Sriram and his brother Thalasayanam are the sons of the man who built the little hospital and they still live in the area and the hospital is still functional. In fact, the brothers said it was still the only mother-and-child centre for miles, covering many villages. “This village was on the international map. Whenever foreign dignitaries came to Tamil Nadu, they dropped by here,” Sriram said with quiet pride.

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