Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall have arrived in India to begin their nine-day tour of the country.
The second-in-line and his wife began their visit by taking part in an Aarti ceremony, as they were welcomed by large crowds of well-wishers who wanted to welcome the Royal couple.
Charles and Camilla took part in the ceremony at the Parmarth Niketan Temple on the banks of the River Ganges. The Prince, 64, wore a smart grey suit and smiled as he and Camilla, 66, got fully involved with the traditional celebrations.
(Photo: Instagram/Clarence House)
On arrival the couple were draped in a garland of red and white flowers and both Charles and Camilla smiled as they looked around at the picturesque setting.
Charles led Camilla by hand as they walked to the river banks where the Aarti ceremony took place. The ritual takes place everyday at sunset, and during the ceremony devotees wave oil lamps burning ghee as a symbolic thank you to God for giving light to the world.
The couple soaked up the culture as they took part in the ceremony, which took place in the holy city of Rishikesh, which was given worldwide attention in 1968 when British band The Beatles visited.
As the future king and his wife were greeted by Hindu guru Swami Chidanand and his leading discuple Sadhvi Bhagawati Saraswati, Charles expressed the importance of his visit.
“It’s a particular joy to join you here on the banks of the Ganges this evening,” he explained. “Because it is, above all else, my first visit to the Ganges and so from that point of view it is a very special occasion for both myself and my wife.”
He added: “But we also wanted just to stress how deeply we felt for all those people who suffered so dreadfully as a result of the awful floods in June – our thoughts and prayers were so much with those families who have had to suffer the appalling catastrophe.”
The Prince has always felt a strong connection with India and its culture and recently spoke of his “particular affection” for the area.
This latest visit is the couple’s third official visit to India, and will see them travel on to Sri Lanka to attend the 2013 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting.
Charles will represent his mother The Queen who decided not to make the long-haul trip this year due to health reasons.
The couple will also spend Charles’ 65th birthday on while on the official visit on November 14.