Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who reached the heritage town of Mamallapuram ahead of Chinese President Xi Jinping in a chopper, welcomed the leader at the monument called Arjuna's penance in the seaside town on Friday.
"I am delighted that President Xi Jinping and I are spending time in this scenic place, which is also a UNESCO heritage site. Mamallapuram is one of the most beautiful places in India, full of vibrancy. It is linked to commerce, spirituality and is now a popular tourist centre," PM Modi tweeted after dinner with Xi Jinping.
The Prime Minister and the Chinese President held informal talks on Friday as they took a walk around ancient monuments at the 1,400-year-old temple complex by the sea. At the temple complex, PM Modi and President Xi visited three monuments - Arjuna's Penance, Panch Ratha and the Shore Temple. They also watched a cultural programme before attending the dinner at the Shore Temple complex.
In Chennai for his second informal summit with PM Modi, President Xi Jinping opted to travel to Mamallapuram by road instead of a helicopter since Chinese leaders, as a matter of policy, shun travel by choppers. On his way to Mamallapuram, along the picturesque East Coast Road, the Chinese leader was greeted with traditional music and folk artists, who performed at a number of locations to welcome Xi.
The Chinese President covered the 57 km journey to the seaside town from Chennai, where he is staying at the ITC Grand Chola (Guindy), by road travelling in a specially flown in Hongqi limousine. The "Hongqi" is a luxury Chinese car used by leaders of the ruling Communist Party of China (CPC) from the time of its founder Mao Zedong. In Chinese, "hongqi" means the red flag.
"The discussion stretched over 150 minutes and it was well beyond the planned time for conversation. The discussions were very open and cordial. This was quality time that the two leaders spent together one-on-one," Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale said in a press briefing.
Xi's visit to hold the second informal summit with PM Modi comes at a time when the ties between the two Asian countries were strained over India's decision to withdraw the special status accorded to Jammu and Kashmir.
Gokhale said both the sides had promised to work together so that radicalisation and terrorism did not affect the multi-cultural, multi-ethnic and multi-religious societies of the two nations.
The Chennai meet is the second edition of the informal summit between PM Modi and the Chinese President. The first was in the Chinese lake city of Wuhan in April 2018, months after a 73-day face-off between the armies of the two countries at Doklam that had taken their relationship to an all-time low.