Chandigarh, Jan 24: French President Francois Hollande will commence his three-day visit to India this afternoon from Chandigarh, a city designed by a French architect, where he will be joined by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The dignitaries, who will arrive here separately, will visit the three popular tourist attractions of the city--Rock Garden, Capitol Complex and Government Museum and Art Gallery, official sources said.
A thick security blanket has been thrown in and around the joint capital of Punjab and Haryana that is hosting a President from a foreign country for the first time. A heavy posse of security personnel from Punjab, Haryana, UT Chandigarh and Central Para Military Forces, including ITBP, has been deployed at all vital installations in the city.
After paying a visit to the tourist spots, Modi and Hollande will attend the 'India-France Business Summit' at a local hotel here, before flying to New Delhi separately in the evening, the sources said here.
Hollande will be the fifth French leader to be a Chief Guest at the Republic Day celebrations on January 26--the maximum number from any country.
French leaders had earlier attended the Republic Day celebrations in the national capital in 1976, 1980, 1998 and 2008.
According to the sources, the French President will arrive at the Chandigarh Air Force Station in the afternoon today and head to a private hotel.
Hollande will visit 'Rock Garden' where he will be received by Modi. Rock Garden was built by late artist Nek Chand who made articles from waste and unused material.
The next stop of the leaders will be the Capitol Complex, described as the most spectacular work of French architect Le Corbusier.
The Complex comprises Legislative Assembly, Punjab and Haryana High Court and Secretariat. Later in the afternoon, Modi and Hollande are scheduled to visit Government Museum and Art Gallery, where the dignitaries will be shown fossil discovered from the Shivalik Hills by French and Indian archaeologists.
The leaders will also attend a forum of select CEOs to be followed by the India-France Business Summit, the sources added.