Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi today visited, in the presence of Justice, Islamic Affairs and Endowments Minister, the Shreenathji (Shree Krishna) temple here.

During the visit, also attended by the Board of Trustees Chairman of the King Hamad Global Centre for Peaceful Coexistence, Dr. Shaikh Khalid bin Khalifa Al Khalifa, and members of the Indian community in Bahrain, Prime Minister Modi expressed delight at visiting the Shreenathji temple, which is among the oldest Hindu temples in the region, noting that it embodies the strength of the Bahraini-Indian relations, and it is a living proof of the freedom of belief and cultural openness that characterise the two friendly countries.

The Indian Prime Minister officially launched the redevelopment project of the 200-year-old Hindu temple in Manama.

Justice Minister, in a statement to Bahrain News Agency (BNA), highlighted the importance of the Indian Prime Minister’s visit to Bahrain in boosting the long-standing bilateral relations.

"The visit of Prime Minister Modi to the temple crowns the distinguished deep-rooted relations between the two countries. Throughout this long common history, peoples have interacted, which have had an impact on their cultures and customs. The existence of an Indian community within Bahrain’s social fabric is a living proof of the tolerance and peaceful co-existence values that have always characterised Bahrain since old times, " he said.

"The visit of the Prime Minister of India is a major event that affirms that the Bahraini-Indian relations are deep-rooted and date back centries ago," he added.

"We look forward to continue enhancing bilateral relations so as to move to broader levels, and there are prospects for further cooperation and the creation of another history that extends to many years. India is a big country and we see it as part of our history and there are economic opportunities in which the two countries can invest in the future," he also said.

Meanwhile, Board of Trustees Chairman of the King Hamad Global Centre for Peaceful Coexistence, Dr. Shaikh Khalid bin Khalifa Al Khalifa, stressed that the Hindu Temple which the Indian Prime Minister had visited stands witness to the cultural diversity and peaceful co-existence prevailing in Bahrain since old times.

"Throughout history, Bahrain has always been a commercial centre that has attracted merchants and scholars from around the world. For them, Bahrain was an oasis of safety and an ideal place to settle thanks to its tolerance and peaceful co-existence values. Also, freedom of belief and worship was granted to everybody, and the construction of the houses of worship was allowed without any interference or restrictions," he said.

"This Hindu temple confirms that the Al Khalifa rulers of Bahrain began a policy of religious tolerance more than 200 years ago, and before the establishment of organisations and NGOs which call for freedoms, which proves that peaceful coexistence in Bahrain has been rooted since ancient times," he added.

Head of the Hindu Temple in Bahrain, Sushil Muljimal, said that the Hindu community is celebrating the 200th anniversary of the Shreenathji, and decided to ensure that the temple’s renovation coincides with Prime Minister Modi’s visit, expressing hope that the temple will continue its work so as to remain a witness to the prevaling values of tolerance and co-existence in Bahrain.

He pointed out that Bahrain today establishes very important values and principles, as it is a beacon for spreading the values of tolerance and religious coexistence among the various components of its society, and this is a message to the world to take Bahrain as a role model in this regard.

Bob Thaker, President of Thattai Hindu Merchant Community (THMC), said that the temple had been built by THMC 200 years ago, which makes it the first of its kind in Bahrain and across the Arabian Gulf region.

The temple was construcuted to meet the needs of the Hindu community, he said, adding that the renovation and development works of the monument will be completed in 20121.