Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Mongolia was replete with such interesting sidelights as he built up a rapport with the leadership of the strategic northeast Asian nation in the first visit by an Indian prime minister.
Modi, who landed in Ulan Bator on Saturday night, expertly shot off an arrow at the Mini Naadam games festival, at the Chingisiin Khuree Camp, 25 km from capital Ulan Bator.
Attired in a light blue-grey traditional robe-like dress with a white bowler hat to match, with the temperature hovering near 5 degrees Celsius and a bitingly cold wind blowing, Modi was seen thoroughly enjoying the games – that included archery, traditional wrestling, and horse riding.
With an appreciative Mongolian Prime Minister Chimed Saikhanbileg standing next to him, Modi gamely offered to shoot an arrow, and did so confidently.
Saikhanbileg and National Security Advisor Ajit Doval applauded smilingly.
Saikhanbileg also tried his hand at shooting arrows.
Walking around the venue, where musicians were playing traditional instruments, Modi tried his hand at playing the Yoochin, a Mongolian board zither where strings are struck with two wooden sticks.
As musicians strummed a tune on the morin khuur, a traditional fiddle, Modi kept up the beat.
Earlier, Modi was presented a morin khuur by President Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj.
Modi exhibited some knowledge of playing a fiddle, as he stroked the strings with the bow confidently, coaxing some notes out of the two-stringed fiddle.
“Striking a new chord in the relationship with Mongolia. @narendramodi tries 2 understand intricacies of morin khuur,” external affairs ministry spokesperson Vikas Swarup tweeted.
The morin khuur, which is adorned with a carved horse head, is considered a symbol of the Mongolian nation.
The strings and bow are made of horsehair.
Talking of horses, Modi was gifted a handsome brown horse, Kanthaka, by Prime Minister Saikhanbileg at the Naadam festival.
Kanthaka was the name of the favourite horse of Prince Siddhartha, who later became Gautama Buddha.
Modi had earlier in the morning visited the Gandan Monastery where he presented a Bodhi sapling to the chief abbot and also offered prayers.
More than half of the Mongolian people follow Buddhism.
And no visit of Modi is complete without selfies.
Modi took selfies with President Elbegdorj, who retweeted a selfie.
During the state dinner, Prime Minister Saikhanbileg was attired in a bandgala – sportingly returning the gesture of Modi wearing a Mongolian costume at the Naadam games.
In his dinner speech, Modi said: “In less than 24 hours, we have experienced true friendship.”
“The importance of a journey is not measured by the distance covered, but by the destination reached. The visit may be short. But, the outcomes are substantive and significant.
“In the course of one day, we have imparted our ancient relations new strength and momentum,” said Modi.
Saikhanbileg, in his dinner speech, said Mongolians “take immense pride in our long historic and cultural bonds with the people of India and entertain profound regard towards India as a sacred land of Lord Buddha.”