President A P J Abdul Kalam on Friday said Saboo village in Ladakh district in the northernmost part of India reminded him of his native place Rameswaram in the opposite end of the country.
Earlier on Friday morning, people had lined up on both sides of the road from Leh airport to the circuit house to greet the President, who was accompanied by Governor Lt Gen (retd) S K Sinha, Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed and senior officials.
The first stop in his itinerary was at Saboo, 7km from Leh.
Addressing the villagers, Kalam said, "The first step to economic development is to connect all the villages (spread across this vast but sparsely populated land) with roads."
"The second important goal should be to achieve electronic connectivity through which these villages would be linked with the entire world."
"Connectivity through the Internet would unleash a new era of knowledge that would unfold enormous vistas for economic development for this secluded mountainous region."
"With the application of new technology and scientific knowledge, the region can do wonders on economic front," the President said also making a special mention about promoting horticulture in the area.
Adding a personal touch to the occasion, Kalam said, "After visiting Saboo village and interacting with the people, I am reminded of my native Rameswaram in Tamil Nadu where all communities live in peace and amity in keeping with the secular traditions of India."
The President called upon religious heads to 'preserve the unique character of our country'.
Disapproving all types of discrimination, Kalam said there should be no discrimination against women or education of girls, who should be 'equal partners in the pursuit of economic development and educational excellence'.
He urged the people to 'invest in children to shape their destiny'.
He evinced keen interest in several ancient religious scriptures of the sixteenth century, especially miniature paintings. Locals told him that these 'are very sacred and like a Bible to the Buddhists'.
The president visited the house of a panch (village official), Sonam Loldan, who proudly introduced his family members to the first citizen of the country.
Not content with just outer appearances, the President made his way into the kitchen, where he was indulged with the local GurGur tea.
Emboldened, Sonam Loldan's youngest son sought The President's autograph on their family album.
After a 40-minute stay at Saboo, the President left for the historic Spithub monastery.
Later, he paid a visit to gurudwara Pathar Sahib before heading for the Magnetic Hills, 15km from Leh and located at 11,000 feet above sea level, where passing vehicles automatically slow down because of the magnetic nature of the rocks.
The President is on a three-day visit to Jammu and Kashmir and will be spending one day in each major region (Jammu, Kashmir valley, Ladakh) of the state.
With inputs from PTI