President Patil visits ancient Lao capital Luang Prabang

Luang Prabang (Laos), Sept. 11 (ANI): Visiting Indian President Pratibha Devisingh Patil today visited Luang Prabang, the ancient capital of Laos and one of the important historical sites since ancient times, showcasing the deep cultural bond between the two countries.

Luang Prabang, literally means "Royal Buddha Image," is located in north central Laos, where the Nam Khan river meets the Mekong River about 425 km north of the national capital Vientiane.

The city was formerly the capital of a kingdom of the same name until the Communist takeover in 1975. Luang Prabang was the royal capital and seat of government of the Kingdom of Laos. The city is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

President Patil also visited the Haw Kham Royal Palace Museum, also a well known historical site.

The palace was built in 1904 during the French colonial era for King SisavangVong and his family. In 1975, the Communists overthrew the monarchy and the royal family was taken to reeducation camps. The palace was then converted into a national museum.

In the evening, a Baci ceremony will be held in honour of President Patil. The ceremony is held to celebrate a special event, whether a marriage, a homecoming, a welcome, a birth, or one of the annual festivals.

The Baci ceremony runs deep in Lao psyche. In different part of the country, the ceremony differs slightly in meaning.

President Patil will also meet Bouheuang Douangphachanh, Governor of Luang Prabhang, who will be hosting official banquet in her honour. (ANI)

On Sunday, President Patil will visit the Wat Xieng Thong Temple. Xieng Thong is one of the most important temples of Laos. The word "wat" in Lao means temple, in this case, the Temple of the Golden City.

Wat Xieng Thong is very old, and was built around 1560 by King Setthathirat, a patron of Buddhism, who ruled Laos from 1548 to 1571. The temple is located in a beautiful garden on the bank of the Mekong River where the Nam Khan, a smaller river runs into it.

Until 1975, when the Communists gained control over Laos, Wat Xieng Thong was a royal temple, supported by the royal family. It was the place where the former kings of Laos were crowned and granted their power.

She will also undertake a cruise of the River Mekong, the world's 12th-longest river and the seventh longest in Asia.

It has an estimated length of 4,350 kilometers or 2,703 miles, and drains an area of 795,000 square kilometers, discharging 475 km3 of water annually.

From the Tibetan Plateau, the river runs through China's Yunnan province, Burma, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam. By Praful Kumar Singh (ANI)

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