To further enhance the Indo-Sri Lankan ties, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday said Air India will operate direct flights between Colombo and Varanasi from August this year.

"I have the great pleasure to announce that from August this year, Air India will operate direct flights between Colombo and Varanasi," PM Modi said while participating in the opening ceremony of the 14th International Vesak Day celebration in Colombo.

Highlighting that India has given the world the invaluable gift of Buddha and his teachings, PM Modi said that Buddhism and its various strands are deep seated in Indian culture and philosophy.

"Our region is blessed to have given to the world the invaluable gift of Buddha and his teachings," PM Modi said, adding, "Buddhism and its various strands are deep seated in our governance, culture and philosophy."

PM Modi, who is on a two-day state visit to Sri Lanka, on Friday was received by Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe for the celebration of International Vesak Day .

The visit follows an invitation from Sirisena. It is Modi's second trip to Sri Lanka as Prime Minister after March 2015.

Later in the day, PM Modi will open an India-funded 150-bed multi-speciality hospital at Dickoya in the central hill district which is home to Tamil tea plantation workers of Indian origin.

PM Modi will also pray at the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic at Kandy. The golden-roofed Kandy temple houses Sri Lanka's most important Buddhist relic — a tooth of Lord Buddha.

In Pallekele, PM Modi will unveil a plaque commemorating the foundation laying of the Faculty of Kandyan Dance at the Sri Lankan International Buddhist Academy that will be constructed with India's grant assistance.

(With inputs from agencies)