In October 1954, India’s first prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru set off on what was described as the “most important foreign mission of his life”: A trip to China.

It was also, as the New York Times noted, the first visit by a non-communist head of state since the creation of the People’s Republic of China.

“The six miles between city and airport were walled by unbroken banks of humanity, clapping, cheering and crying the inescapable Chinese slogan, ‘Long live peace’,” the newspaper reported.

Decades before their economic rise came to define the region and beyond, Nehru met chairman Mao Zedong, held talks with the first Chinese premier, Zhou EnLai, and visited Beijing, Shanghai, Nanjing and Guangzhou (Canton). He was accompanied by his daughter, and later also prime minister of India, Indira Gandhi.

And although the visit seemingly cemented ties, building on the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence (pdf) agreed upon earlier that year, the two countries eventually were at war by 1962.

Now, as India’s current prime minister Narendra Modi makes a much-touted visit to China, here is what Nehru’s trip was like some 60 years ago.

Nehru and Mao toasting at a banquet held in honour of the prime minister’’s visit at Peking (Beijing) on October 23, 1954.(Photo division/Government of India)

Nehru at the banquet hall with premier EnLai.(Photo division/Government of India)

Nehru and Indira Gandhi being taken around the corridors of the Summer Palace in Beijing.(Photo division/Government of India)

Nehru’ with the Dalai and Panchen Lamas of Tibet.(Photo division/Government of India)

Nehru at the Lama Temple in Beijing (Peking) on October 21, 1954.(Photo division/Government of India)

Nehru at a steel factory in Anshan in the north east of China.(Photo division/Government of India)

Nehru recording a speech for Peking Radio on October 26, 1954.(Photo division/Government of India)

Nehru at the Dr. Sun-Yat Sen’ Memorial on October 27, 1954.(Photo division/Government of India)

Nehru being taken round worker’s’ quarters at Shanghai on October 28, 1954.(Photo division/Government of India)

Nehru with a group of Young Pioneers (Scouts) in Shanghai.(Photo division/Government of India)

Crowds cheering the Indian prime minister during his visit to Canton on October 30, 1954.(Photo division/Government of India)

Nehru taking the salute at a guard of honour prior to his departure from Canton on October 30, 1954, after visiting the city.(Photo division/Government of India)

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