Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese Prime Minister Xi Jinping, (Modi-Xi) met on Friday at one of the oldest cities of India — Mahabalipuram on October 11-12.
The city is known for its monoliths, and historical significance, will host a 200-member delegation from China.
Mahabalipuram is a town located on a strip of land between the Bay of Bengal and the Great Salt Lake, in the South Indian state of Tamil Nadu.
When PM Modi recently visited the state, #GoBackModi trended two times more than #TNWelcomesModi.
The ruling BJP is facing a backlash from the regional party leaders for its alleged pro-Hindi stance. Tamil Nadu is not new to the Language war. In fact, major political factions are the progeny of the language debate.
Then why a tiny archaeological town, situated just 50 kilometres away from Tamil Nadu’s capital, Chennai, was chosen for the second informal meeting between India and China?
The old connection:
Mahabalipuram (former name) or Mamallapuram gets its name from ‘Mamallan’ — a title given to Pallava king Narasimhavaraman I.
Pallava dynasty ruled the coastal town between the 3rd century CE and 7th century CE. It was during this time that the town thrived to become an important centre of art, architecture, and literature for the nation.
He was one of the few kings who was never defeated in any of the wars. He was also an adept strategist when it came to the weaving partnership with other countries, especially neighbours.
The available ancient literature shows that the Pallava kings had a trade and defence relationship with China. The security and defence pacts signed by the kings of the dynasty suggested that they agreed to help China in keeping a check on the growth of Tibet as a powerful nation– an agreement that seems unusual in the current context of the Sino-Indian relations.
For Pallavas, Mamallapuram acted as an important trade centre, and the town had commercial links with South-East Asian countries like China, Sri Lanka, any more.
“Diplomatic ties with China were deeper under the Cholas,” T S Subramanian, a veteran archaeologist and science journalist told this portal.
Coins from China, Persia, and Rome is found in Mamallapuram, by archaeologists and historians consolidate this narrative.
Subramanian further explained that Chinese porcelain and coins were also found in other coastal towns of Tamil Nadu like Nagapattinam and Tranquebar.
During ‘Mamallan’ reign, Hiuen Tsang, a Chinese Buddhist monk-traveller visited, the Pallava capital at Kanchipuram.
Several rock carvings in the town remind about the geographical relation between Indian and China.
One of the obstacles that were in front of the organizers of the Modi-Xi summit was the availability of a wide runway. The aircraft carrying Chinese President Xi Jinping and his top officials needed a more massive runway. This was not available in some of the cities that were under consideration, including Modi’s own constituency Varanasi, sources told Business Standard.
While Chennai has the infrastructure to handle such aircraft, but the historical connection with Mamallapuram became a reason to surpass China.
The political pundits believe that by selecting Mamallapuram as a location for holding such a crucial meet for the nation, PM Modi wants to send a message to other Dravidian parties that the state holds a high significance for BJP.
This is the second informal meet of Modi-Xi. Two leaders had their first inaugural informal summit in Wuhan, China on 27-28 April 2018.
In the Mamallapuram summit, the focus of the talks is likely to be on issues of bilateral, regional and global importance. They are also expected to exchange views on deepening India-China ties and steps to ensure mutual development.