The king of Bhutan Jigme Khesar Namgyal Wangchuk on Friday began his maiden three-day tour to Assam with a visit to the famed Kamakhya Temple atop the Nilachal Hills in Guwahati.
Earlier in the day, the 43-year-old king of the neighbouring Himalayan country arrived at the Lokpriya Gopinath International Airport (LGBIA) in Guwahati and was received by Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, his cabinet colleagues and other state government officials.
CM Sarma welcomed the king with the traditional Assamese 'Gamosa'. The royal visitor greeted the chief minister and his cabinet colleagues with folded hands.
From the airport, the king went to the Kamakhya Temple where he was received by priests, Assam Tourism Minister Jayanta Mallabaruah, senior officials of the state and the Kamrup Metro district administration.
The king, draped with a traditional Buddhist yellow robe, prayed at the 'garbhagriha' (sanctum sanctorum) and did 'parikrama' (circumambulation) of the temple, besides lighting earthen lamps in obeisance to the Goddess, the temple Bor-Doloi (head priest) Kabindra Prasad Sarma told PTI.
The king also assured the temple priests that he would visit the place of worship again with his family in the future, he said. The authorities presented a replica of the Kamakhya Temple to the royal visitor.
Various cultural troupes of different communities of Assam performed outside the airport as the king arrived here, and he responded by waving at them from his vehicle.
From there, he met the Bhutanese diaspora at a hotel in the afternoon. The chief minister also called on the king in the evening. A cultural programme and a dinner were hosted in his honour by Governor Gulab Chand Kataria.
The king and his entourage will leave for the Kaziranga National Park, famed for its one-horned rhino, on Saturday where he will take a safari.
The royal visitor will leave for New Delhi on Sunday from Jorhat. The chief minister said that on behalf of the people of Assam, ''I am elated to welcome His Majesty Jigme Khesar Namgyal Wangchuk, the King of Bhutan''.
''Under the guidance of our Hon'ble Prime Minister, we look forward to the strengthening of the special relationship between our two countries'', he posted on 'X', formerly Twitter.
As a gesture of goodwill, the state cabinet had on Wednesday approved the reservation of three MBBS seats for the Royal Government of Bhutan -- two seats in the Nalbari Medical College Hospital and one in the Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed Medical College and Hospital. India and Bhutan share a 649-km-long border, of which a 267-km boundary is with Assam.
(With inputs from PTI)