New Delhi: In a bid to further strengthen their friendship, India is hosting 160 Sri Lankan military personnel and their families as part of the second edition of a special pilgrimage trip to Bodh Gaya starting on Saturday.

"Second annual military personnel and families pilgrimage to Bodh Gaya starts today with an IAF aircraft deployed to Sri Lanka. India will host 160 Sri Lankan military personnel & families, a reciprocal visit by 156 Indian Armed Forces Personnel with families will visit Kandy and Galle in Sri Lanka," the spokesperson for Ministry of Defence tweeted.
This is the second time that the Sri Lankan military personnel have come to India with their families for religious tourism.

This year, the Indian forces will also send 156 of their personnel and families to Sri Lankan cities Kandy and Galle.

The initiative is aimed at fostering cultural exchanges between the militaries of the two neighbouring countries.

India and Sri Lanka have developed close military ties in the last many years and a number of Sri Lankan personnel are trained in military and Coast Guard institutions.

India also gifted a few of its vessels to the neighbouring Island nation and some of their biggest vessels have also been built in the Indian Defence shipyards.