2015-03-11 / .

Spiritual Varanasi, innovative Guj bring solar powered SI-2 to India

Ahmedabad: Varanasi and Ahmedabad may not be having much similarities but the pioneers of 'Solar Impulse 2', claimed to be the world's only solar-powered aircraft, chose the two cities for a layover in India as they have distinct "dimensions" of spirituality and innovation. "Varanasi is a holy city. I have visited Varanasi many times and I am impressed with that place. It is true that the project is about technology, it is also true that the project is about human adventure. But when we do these flights, these long-duration flights, it's always a spiritual experience," said Andre Borschberg in a reply to a question on why the next stop of the plane is Varanasi.

The globe-trotting 'Solar Impulse 2' made a landing at the Sardar Vallabhai Patel International Airport here last night, fifteen hours after it took off from Muscat. Borschberg, the project co-founder and pilot of SI-2, and its co-pilot and president Bertrand Piccard were sharing their experience of flying in the plane with reporters here. "..So to be in Varanasi is to touch a spiritual dimension, which is a key to us. It is not only about business, it is not only about technology and it is not only about clean energy but it is also about humankind, and for us it is certainly about spirituality," added Borschberg.

He was responding to a query on why SI-2 team chose Ahmedabad and the holy city of Varanasi for their stopover in India. They will be leaving for their next destination in neighbouring Myanmar. Borschberg said his team decided to take a halt in Ahmedabad as Gujarat is one of the most industrialised states in India. "Ahmedabad or Gujarat is the most industrialised province, may be the most one in India, and besides that our partner Solvay has a big facility here... that is the reason we preferred this state to land," said Borscberg.

Piccard said he had realised during his last visit that Gujarat was known for innovation, but it is the view on clean energy of then chief minister Narendra Modi that brought him back. "Gujarat is a province that is very very known for innovation. The first time I was here four years ago, I met Mr Modi (Prime Minister Narendra Modi) twice, he spoke a lot about renewable energy and he supported to bring solar power in India. That is why we decided to come here," Piccard said.

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