07 October 2019
Chennai: The famed Mamallapuram/Mahabalipuram is all set to wear a festive look in a day or two to welcome the leaders of the two of the most populous countries -- Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping.
The two leaders will have an informal summit at Mamallapuram from October 11 to 13.
More than the sea breeze, fresh paint can be smelt on the East Coast Road (ECR) several kilometres before Mamallapuram/Mahabalipuram which is about 60 km from here.
Workers are busy putting the white paint markings on the road and the black and white paint on the medians or the cement road dividers.
Inside Mamallapuram, roads have been blacktopped, pavements and street lights are being repaired.
The branches of the roadside trees are being trimmed or cut near the town's entrance.
"Everything is new here. Even the street lights are burning bright now. Thanks to the proposed visits of the Indian Prime Minister and Chinese President," said a resident living on the road towards the Five Rathas/ Pandava Rathas monument told IANS.
Welcome arches are being put up -- one near the entry point of Mamallapuram and the other on the road to the five star Taj Fisherman's Cove Resort & Spa at Kovalam some kilometres away from Mamallapuram.
Prime Minister Modi is likely to stay in the property which is built on the ramparts of a Dutch Fort and also have discussions with Jinping.
While the hotel officials are tight-lipped about the proposed visit of high profile guests, one can see quite a number of policemen on the watch near the property.
On the other hand, Xi is expected to stay at ITC Grand Chola in the city.
Banners welcoming the two leaders are yet to come up en route and they will be propped up soon.
The coastal town Mamallapuram is a UNESCO World Heritage Site -- famous for its stone carvings and stone temples of the Pallava dynasty period.
Majority of the monuments at this town were built during the period of Narasimhavarman I during the period 630-670 AD.
Underscoring the links between Kancheepuram district where Mamallapuram is located and China as well as signifying the cultural/religious linkage, Buddha statues have been put up near the Shore Temple and the Five Rathas.
It is said, Bodhidharma a Buddhist monk who lived in 5th or 6th century had travelled from Kancheepuram to China and started the physical training for monks at the Shaolin Monastery which led to the emergence of Shaolin Kungfu.
The two leaders are also slated to visit the Shore Temple, Arjuna's penance, Krishna's Butter Ball and the five 'Pandava Rathas'.
Be that as it may, as a mark of security and to carry out repair works near the monuments that the two leaders will be visiting, tourist entry has been barred to Krishna's Butter Ball (a 250 ton gigantic boulder seated on a short incline), Rock-cut Ganesh Temple and stone sculptures of group of monkeys.
According to officials, entry for the public will be closed for Five Rathas monument and Shore Temple in a day or two.
Outside the Five Rathas, lawns with Mexican grass is being made. In another portion, Korean grass mats were used.
"The Mexican grass will long last," an official of the contractor laying the grass told IANS.
Similarly, lawns are being laid near the Krishna's Butter Ball and Shore Temple.
"We have been asked not to come here from Monday onwards till Oct 13 due to the visit of the two leaders as a security measure. This will hit our livelihood," a tender coconut vendor near the Five Rathas told IANS.
There are around 50 roadside vendors selling eatables and other items.
Similarly, hundreds of shops near the Shore Temple has been removed as a security measure.
As a part of security measure, police are also checking out the vacant plots on the ECR stretch near Mamallapuram.
Hotels, resorts and lodges in and around Mamallapuram have been advised to rent out rooms to persons with proper documents and turn away suspicious persons while the residents of Mamallapuram have been advised to keep away guests till the completion of the Modi - Xi's informal summit.
Senior police officials are making regular trips to Mamallapuram to check on the security arrangements.
Fishermen have been advised to keep away from the sea during the summit days.
While Xi's arrival and departure no flights - in or outbound- will be operated.
According to airport officials, a plane carrying cargo including the cars for Xi is expected to arrive here this week.
Some of the airport walls will have a fresh coat of paint.
The police are also maintaining a strict vigil against any protests and as per reports, nine Tibetans, including writer Tenzin Tsundue were detained here on Sunday.