Participating in the 14th International Vesak Day, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced, among a fray of things, that there would be a direct flight between Colombo and Varanasi.

Sri Lanka, which is a predominantly Buddhist country, holds Varanasi in significance as it is an important Buddhist site and is situated 250km away from Buddhist pilgrimage centre Bodhgaya.

PM Modi reiterated that Sri Lanka was India’s friend and that the latter would ensure assistance in the nation-building of the island country. “From August 2017, Air India will operate direct flights between Colombo and Varanasi. This will ease travel of brothers and sisters from Sri Lanka to visit Varanasi, the land of Kashi Vishwanath,” Modi said.

“Buddhism and its various strands are deep seated in our governance, culture and philosophy. Our region is blessed to have given to the world the invaluable gift of Buddha and his teachings,” Modi said as he talked about the shared Buddhist heritage between India and Sri Lanka.

The direct flight from Colombo to Varanasi will ensure that Sri Lankan pilgrims looking to visit Bodhgaya and Varanasi will be able to do it hassle-free.