Kuala Lumpur: Prime Minister Narendra Modi along with his Malaysian counterpart Najib Razak today jointly inaugurated the over USD 1.1 million 'Torana Gate' built by India and said it was not merely a piece of art on stone but connecting of two nations.

Modi, who held talks with Najib earlier in the day, inaugurated the gate at the Little India enclave in Brickfields here.

The gateway, which is a gift from India to mark the launch of Kuala Lumpur's Litte India project, was built at an estimated to cost about 5 million Malaysian Ringgit (USD 1.1 million).

Hundreds of Indian-origin people lined up in the streets to get a glimpse of Prime Minister Modi.

Modi said Torana Gate is "not merely a piece of art on stone. This is connecting two nations & illustrates the two great cultures."

"The inauguration of Torana Gate shows India-Malaysia ties are not only economical but also cultural. I am sure ties between India and Malaysia will be stronger and deeper in the times to come," Modi said.

"Several tourists come to Kuala Lumpur and they want to come to Little India. Now they will want to go to see the Torana," he said, adding that it will become a major attraction.

Modi said the gate will be a milestone in India's relations with Malaysia.  Modi and Najib cut the inauguration ribbon to the count of three and later signed a plaque there.

Najib said the gateway was a gift from India and a labour of love. It is a symbol of ties and friendship between the two peoples and marked yet another high point in the long history of India and Malaysia, he said. "It is symbolic and substantive. It is a clear signal of closer cooperation and people to people interaction," he said.

There was also a folk dance performance at the short event.

The intricately carved Torana Gate, inspired by the Toranas of the great Buddhist sculpture of Sanchi, has carvings and relief work representing ancient Indian art as well as the Islamic art form.

Kshitij Jain, the chief designer and architect of the Torana, had earlier said, "Toranas, built by the great Mauryan dynasty ruler, Ashoka, in first century BC, essentially depict symbols related to Buddhism.

"There is the Bodhi Tree, the lotus flowers, the jatakas tales and many other such illustrations, but we did not just replicate them as it would not match the inclusivity and acceptance that India stands for. Such detailing on an art form of this scale, involving the two disparate cultures, has perhaps not been done before," he had said.

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