New Delhi, Feb 2: Prime Minister Narendra Modi said Monday that India and China share age-old ties and it is necessary for both countries to boost people-to-people links through tourism in order to know each other better.
In a video message on the occasion of launch of the "Visit India Year 2015" in China, the prime minister said that in 2016, India will celebrate 'Visit China Year'.
Inviting the Chinese to retrace the steps of ancient Chinese travellers Hiuen Tsang and and Fa Shien who came to India hundreds of years ago, he asked the Chinese to visit Buddhist religious sites like Bodhgaya, Sarnath, Nalanda and Kushinagar and turn the pages of history.
Modi referred to his own village of Vadnagar which Hiuen Tsang had visited. He said that he was happy to learn that President Xi Jinping's hometown is Xian, where the Buddhist monk Hiuen Tsang spent his last years after his return from India.
He said this was not just a historical fact but a sign of the close ties between both nations.
Referring to Xi's visit to Ahmedabad last September and also his own previous visits to China when he was chief minister of Gujarat, Modi said both he and Xi had decided during the September meeting that both countries will observe 'Visit India Year 2015' in China and the following year 'Visit China Year' in India.
Sushma Swaraj, addressing the India-China media forum in Beijing Sunday, said: "Tourism is an effective vehicle to promote people to people understanding and the two countries agreed that we need to make stronger efforts in that regard."