President Moon Jae-in and First Lady Kim Jung-sook made a visit to the Hindu temple Akshardham upon arrival in New Delhi, India, on the afternoon of July 8 (local time).
Their visit to the sanctuary representing Hinduism as the first event of the state visit to India signifies their respect for India’s culture and main religion.
Equal in size to 16 football fields and referred to as a modern-day Angkor Wat, the Akshardham temple has been recognized by Guinness World Records as the largest Hindu temple in the world. Its construction started in 1968 and involved 15,000 architectural and craft professionals as well as volunteers. Completed five years later, the temple is engraved with some 200 sculptures of Hindu incarnations and sages. It is also famous for avoiding any iron components to prevent corrosion.
When President Moon arrived at the temple, two priests clad in saffron robes welcomed him. One of them placed a wreath around his neck and put a red dot or “Tilak” on the President's forehead as well as a yellow string bracelet on his right wrist to welcome him.
Pointing to the temple, the priest said it encapsulated all of India, including its arts and history, adding that the whole structure was built by hand. President Moon expressed his astonishment and said it might have been made possible thanks to the Indian people's religious piety and faith.
Over 100 Korean expatriates and local residents cheered for President Moon around a fence surrounding the temple’s main building while holding a large Korean national flag. The President and priests walked over to the crowd, so he could shake hands and express his appreciation.
President Moon wrote in the guestbook, “I wish for peace in Korea, India and the world at Akshardham, where gods reside. Korean President Moon Jae-in, July 8, 2018.”
After arriving at their hotel following the temple visit, President Moon and First Lady Kim received a warm welcome in the lobby from 20 Indian students from the King Sejong Institute. Each student held up a large piece of paper containing one Hangeul (Korean) syllable to form the phrase, “President Moon Jae-in and First Lady Kim Jung-sook, welcome to India” as they shouted “Hwanyeong hamnida!” (Welcome!) in Korean. President Moon posed for photographs with the students before concluding the official itinerary for the first day of his state visit to India.