Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak and India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi shake hands after launching the Torana Gate in Brickfields. Pix by Ghazali Kori

KUALA LUMPUR: Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak today jointly inaugurated the Torana Gate at Little India, Brickfields.

More than 5,000 people gathered around Little India as early 10am and loudly cheered for Modi and Najib as they arrived at 12.30pm.

Najib, in his speech said the Torana Gate is a symbol of India-Malaysia friendship.

"I highly appreciate the great care that has been taken by experts and teams from both countries in ensuring the successful construction of the Gate, whose detailed craftsmanship and magnificent architecture will surely make it a new landmark in Kuala Lumpur.

"The Gate also offers a way into the rich culture and history of India, one of the oldest and greatest civilisations in the world.

"The Torana Gate marks another high point in the long-standing history of good relations between Malaysia and India. It signals closer cooperation and a new dimension to people-to-people engagement between both countries."

Najib added that he was confident that the Gate will swiftly become an attraction for tourists.

Meanwhile, Modi in his speech said the Torana Gate will be a milestone in strengthening the relation between both India and Malaysia.

"The Torana Gate highlights the rich cultural tradition of both nations... and is also a symbol of strong brotherhood between Malaysia and India."

Modi also congratulated Najib for his far-sightedness in taking the relationship between both nations further.

Accompanied by rhythmic drumming and followed by a countdown, Najib and Modi jointly officiated the Torana Gate at 12.50pm.

The Torana Gate is a gift from India to the people of Malaysia as a mark of continued friendship between both countries.

Leaders of both nations signed a plaque before they left signifying the enduring friendship between India and Malaysia.

Construction of the Torana Gate was first announced by the former Prime Minister of India, Dr Manmohan Singh during his official visit to Malaysia back in October 2010.

The Torana Gate is identical to the design of the 'Great Stupa' at Sanchi, India. It’s about 10 meters high and 7.3 meters wide.

The Gate's main structure is covered with sandstone sculptured blocks made in India and sent to Malaysia in blocks to fit the size of the Gate's pillar structure.

Most of the cravings on the blocks are jewellery patterned floral and geometric shapes. The remaining sculptures are motifs of animals.

Apart from the sandstone carvings, the Gate also consists of granite slabs, bollard sculptures carved out of solid stone and low tone fenced wall.

The Ministry of Federal Territories, in a statement today said the Indian government absorbed the entire cost of the Gate's construction.

"The Torana Gate is not only a symbol of the friendship between India and Malaysia, but it is also a symbol of unity and understanding amidst established ethnic diversity in Malaysia," it said.

A torana is a type of gateway seen in the Hindu and Buddhist architecture of the Indian subcontinent, Southeast Asia and East Asia.

Modi arrived in Kuala Lumpur on Saturday to attend the 27th Asean Summit and Related Summits.

Earlier in the day, Modi paid an official visit to Najib at the Prime Minister's Office in Putrajaya.

Modi and Najib then left for Little India to launch the Torana Gate. Banners proclaiming "Welcome to Brickfields-Little India" and "Selamat Datang Modi" adorned the streets of Little India.