India-Nepal Current Affairs
India and Nepal have signed MoU to build strategic railway line connecting Raxaul city in Bihar, India to Kathmandu, capital of Nepal. It was signed after Prime Minister Narendra Modi held talks on all aspects of the bilateral ties with his Nepalese counterpart KP Sharma Oli on sidelines of 4th BIMSTEC Summit held in Nepal.
Raxaul-Kathmandu rail line
It is expected to expand connectivity by enhancing people-to-people linkages and bulk movement of goods between both countries. It help to promote economic growth and development in the region. India’s Konkan Railway Corporation Ltd. will conduct preliminary engineering-cum-traffic survey of this new rail line in consultation with Government of Nepal. This will be followed by finalization of implementation and funding modalities of project based ondetailed project report. Besides, there are also three other railway projects in pipeline between both countries viz. Nautanwa-Bhairahawa, New Jalpaiguri-Kakarbhitta and Nepalgunj Road-Nepalgunj.
The signing of MoU comes two years after China agreed to construct strategic railway link with Nepal through Tibet with apparent aim of reducing Himalayan nation’s dependence on India. It also comes in backdrop of recent Chinese linkages with Nepal as it took on building three highways to be completed by 2020. The two countries have recently also signed transit treaty. It also comes years after sense of mistrust had prevailed when certain sections in Nepal blamed India for the 135-day blockade in 2015 – 2016 that had crippled Nepal’s economy.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi along with Nepal PM K P Sharma Oli inaugurated 400-bed Nepal-Bharat Maitri Pashupati Dharamshala in Kathmandu, capital of Nepal. They handed over this dharamshala to Pashupati Area Development Trust.
Nepal-Bharat Maitri Pashupati Dharamshala
It is rest house for pilgrims in Kathmandu, built with Indian assistance. It is located on banks of Bagmati River. It has provisions to meet the requirements of pilgrims including dining hall, kitchen, family rooms and multipurpose halls to meet the requirements of travellers and families on pilgrimage to Pashupatinath Temple.
Pashupatinath temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva (also known as Lord Pashupatinath, Nepal’s national deity). It is one of the four most important religious sites in Asia for devotees of Shiva. It was built in the 5th century and later renovated by Malla kings. It largest temple complex in Nepal, it stretches on both sides of Bagmati River which is considered holy by Hindus. Jyotirlinga at Pashupatinath is considered as head over twelve Jyotirlinga (in India) which are different body parts. The main pagoda style temple has gilded roof, four sides covered in silver and wood carvings of the finest quality. Temples dedicated to several other Hindu and Buddhist deities surround the temple of Pashupatinath. The Pashupatinath temple complex was inscribed on UNESCO World Heritage Sites’s list in 1979 as a cultural heritage site.