The King and Queen's state visit to India – days 4 and 5

The King and Queen at the city of Rishikesh, by the River Ganges.

The King and Queen at the city of Rishikesh, by the River Ganges. Photo: The Swedish Embassy in New Delhi

On Monday 2 to Friday 6 December, The King and Queen visited India at the invitation of President Ram Nath Kovind. The aim of the state visit was to strengthen the good relations between the two countries, focusing on issues including trade, innovation, the climate and democracy.

The fourth day of the state visit began in the city of Rishikesh, situated at the foot of the Himalayas next to the River Ganges.

The King and Queen on the Ram Jhula bridge over the River Ganges in Rishikesh.

The King and Queen on the Ram Jhula bridge over the River Ganges in Rishikesh. Photo: The Swedish Embassy in New Delhi

The King and Queen were welcomed by Sunita Narain, Director General of the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), who spoke about the river's condition. Ms Narain and The King and Queen then crossed the Ram Jhula bridge to the bathing steps – or 'ghats' – leading down to the river.

Photo: The Swedish Embassy in New Delhi

Photo: The Swedish Embassy in New Delhi

The River Ganges has great cultural significance in India. It is believed that the river washes away all sins, and that bathing in the Ganges purifies the soul. Rishikesh is a centre for spiritual and bodily wellbeing, with a focus on yoga and meditation.

The King and Queen discuss the climate and the environment with young people from Rishikesh.

The King and Queen discuss the climate and the environment with young people from Rishikesh. Photo: The Swedish Embassy in New Delhi

The King and Queen also had the opportunity to speak with young people from the area about their views on the climate, the environment and the river.

The King and Queen at the River Ganges with local youngsters.

The King and Queen at the River Ganges with local youngsters. Photo: The Swedish Embassy in New Delhi

Opening of the Sarai Sewage Treatment Plant

Later that afternoon, The King and Queen attended the opening of the Sarai Sewage Treatment Plant. On arrival, The King and Queen were welcomed by Jal Shakti Water Minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat and Uttarakhand's Chief Minister Trivendra Singh Rawat.

After a presentation of the Sarai Sewage Treatment Plant, The King and Queen visited the plant's control room, where the plant was officially opened and started by the Water Minister and the Chief Minister.

The King and Queen at a small exhibition on the project to clean the river.

The King and Queen at a small exhibition on the project to clean the river. Photo: The Swedish Embassy in New Delhi

India's Government backs the National Mission for Clean Ganga, which aims to effectively reduce pollution in the River Ganges. To ensure that no waste water runs into the river, large water treatment basins are being constructed.

Once the facility is complete, it will be able to treat much of the waste water from Haridwar, an ancient city with around 300,000 inhabitants which is regarded as one of India's seven holy cities. Kumbh Mela, one of the world's biggest religious festivals, draws up to 120 million attendees and is celebrated every 12 years in Haridwar, with the next festival being held in 2021.

The Sarai Sewage Treatment Plant.

The Sarai Sewage Treatment Plant. Photo: The Swedish Embassy in New Delhi

Visit to the Jim Corbett National Park

In the afternoon, The King and Queen visited the Jim Corbett National Park, India's oldest national park. It was established in 1936 to protect the threatened Bengal tiger.

After driving through the national park, The King and Queen arrived at Jim's Jungle Retreatexternal link, opens in new window where they met the park's new manager, Manoj Sharma. He described the park and the plants and wild animals that live there.

The park, located in Nainital and Pauri Garhwal in the state of Uttarakhand, is named after Jim Corbettexternal link, opens in new window, a well-known hunter and naturalist. This is a popular destination for ecotourism, offering a natural experience with almost 500 different plant species and diverse animal life. At more than 500 square kilometres, the park features varied scenery with hills, riverine belts, marshy depressions, grasslands and a large lake.

The visit concluded with a dinner, during which The King and Queen had the opportunity to speak with experts about conservation challenges in the park and surrounding societies.

During the visit, representatives from the state of Uttarakhand spoke about the park's work with environmental protection, biodiversity, replanting and protecting habitats.

During the visit, representatives from the state of Uttarakhand spoke about the park's work with environmental protection, biodiversity, replanting and protecting habitats. Photo: The Royal Court of Sweden

The final day of the state visit

The King and Queen began the fifth day of their state visit at a dry river bed near Jim's Jungle Retreat. They were guided by manager Manoj Sharma and local wilderness experts.

Visit to the Van Gujjar settlement

The King and Queen then met representatives from the Van Gujjar people, who were previously nomads in the Himalayan forests.

During the visit to the Van Gujjar people, discussions were held on society's participation in conservation work, activities to stop poaching and society's opportunities for support.

During the visit to the Van Gujjar people, discussions were held on society's participation in conservation work, activities to stop poaching and society's opportunities for support. Photo: The Royal Court of Sweden

The end of the state visit

After breakfast at Jim's Jungle Retreat, The King and Queen left the national park and the state visit ended with a departure ceremony at Palam Air Force Station.