Chief Minister of Assam, Himanta Biswa Sarma, along with his cabinet members, extended a warm welcome to the Bhutan’s Royal King Jigme Khesar Namgyal Wangchuk by presenting him with an Assamese ‘gamosa,’ a traditional scarf. Dressed in a traditional Buddhist yellow robe, King Wangchuk commenced his visit by offering prayers at the revered Kamakhya Temple atop Nilachal Hills, a sacred site that holds significance in both Buddhism and Tantrism. In a touching gesture that underlined his commitment to unity, King Wangchuk followed Hindu rituals at the temple, defying religious barriers and setting a remarkable example of camaraderie between Bhutan and India.
The temple management made special arrangements for King Wangchuk’s entry into the sanctum sanctorum, where he paid obeisance to the presiding goddess with flowers and prasad. This unique act of spiritual reverence transcending religious boundaries left a deep impression on all present.
Assam Tourism Minister Jayanta Malla Baruah and senior officials of the State Government accompanied and assisted King Wangchuk during his visit to the Kamakhya Temple. The chief priest of the temple, Kabindra Prasad Sarma, expressed, “Buddhism and Hinduism are not a barrier for him but a bond of unity. The king expressed his willingness to enter the temple, and we took him inside. Priests chanted the Kamakhya Devi Pranam mantra.”
After leaving the temple, the King performed ‘parikrama’ (circumambulation) and lit a ‘diya’, symbolising the harmonious coexistence of different faiths. Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma expressed his delight at the historic visit, stating, “Druk Gyalpo’s visit is a great honour for Assam. This visit is a testament to the ancient bonding between our nations.”
Beyond the spiritual significance, King Wangchuk’s visit holds substantial diplomatic and economic importance. Discussions revolved around various aspects of bilateral cooperation, including infrastructure partnerships and healthcare collaboration. Chief Minister Sarma pointed out that Assam has greatly benefited from King Wangchuk’s visionary leadership, expressing the enthusiasm of the people to strengthen the doctrine of “Neighborhood First,” a key foreign policy initiative by Hon’ble Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
King Wangchuk also engaged with the Bhutanese diaspora in Guwahati, attending cultural events and fostering cultural exchanges. On the following day, the King departed for the renowned Kaziranga National Park, an emblem of India’s rich biodiversity.
The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) affirmed that King Wangchuk’s visit to India would extend until November 10 and involve visits to other Indian States. During his stay, he is scheduled to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar, and other senior officials, further strengthening the already robust ties between India and Bhutan.
The External Affairs Ministry highlighted the unique friendship and cooperation between the two nations, characterised by understanding and mutual trust. This visit is seen as a vital opportunity to discuss a range of issues, reflecting the close-knit relationship shared by India and Bhutan.
As a goodwill gesture, the Assam State cabinet approved the reservation of three MBBS seats for the Royal Government of Bhutan, allocating two seats at the Nalbari Medical College Hospital and one at the Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed Medical College and Hospital. This gesture underscores the commitment to supporting Bhutan in the field of healthcare and education.
Notably, King Wangchuk’s visit comes in the wake of the 25th round of boundary talks between China and Bhutan held in Beijing. The two countries had previously signed a cooperation agreement on the “Responsibilities and Functions of the Joint Technical Team (JTT) on the Delimitation and Demarcation of the Bhutan-China Boundary.” This visit to India reiterates Bhutan’s commitment to strengthening its relationships with neighbouring nations and fostering a climate of regional peace and cooperation.
King Wangchuk’s historic visit to Assam serves as a symbol of the enduring friendship and cultural ties between Bhutan and India. Beyond the spiritual significance, the visit also holds significant diplomatic and economic importance, reinforcing the commitment to strengthen bilateral cooperation in various sectors.