The city extended a spectacular welcome to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his guests, Japan prime minister Shinzo Abe and his wife Akie Abe.
The VVIPs embarked on a road show whose route was lined by the display of the highlights of Indian culture. The show has entered the Golden Book of World Records for the largest number people dressed in various traditional Indian attire. The format of the welcome was a dazzling departure from convention.
The Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel International airport abounded with life-size cut-outs of Modi and Abe. Modi landed at around 2.30 pm and took stock of preparations. The Abes arrived at 3.29 pm and were greeted by Modi and governor O P Kohli. This is the Abes' maiden visit to Mahatma Gandhi's homeland. Modi escorted Abe to a group of Buddhist monks who chanted `Buddham Sharanam Gacchami' in benediction.
Abe was then given the guard of honour by the three wings of the Indian armed forces. Modi and the Abes began the road show in an open vehicle. Crowds cheered them on with effusiveness, drawing warm smiles from both PMs. The first tableau that the visitors saw represented Gujarat.