The compound word “Janakpur” is composed of two Sanskrit words “Janak” and “Pur” which means the city (Pur) of king Janak. Janak was the king of ancient city of Mithila also known as Bideha.
Janakpur used to be the capital of the ancient state of Mithila. Maithili is a chief language spoken here. Mithila was the state which was ruled by king Mithi. Mithila is known also as ‘Bideha (‘Bi’ means without and ‘deha’ means body) because the myth holds that king Mithi was the son of King Nimi who became bodyless due to the curse of Great Sage Basistha.
According to Binaya Chandra Sen (Professor of Calcutta University), the ancient state of Mithila was extended from Gandaki to Koshi and from Ganges to Himalaya.
Four guardians are believed to protect the city of Janakpur from evil that may enter through four of its gates. Kapileswor is taken to be the guardian of the eastern gate, likewise Kalyaneswor for Southern gate, Jaleswor for western gate and Kshireswor is believed to be the guardian of the northern gate.
The glory of Janakpur which had once been buried in the womb of history is believed to have regained its honor when Sage Chaturvuj Giri and Vaisnav Sur Kishor Das found the idols of god Ram and Goddess Sita in 17th century.
Janakpur associates itself with the Great Hindu Epic- “Ramayan” for it was the very place where Sita (the consort of God Ram) was found. Ramayan tells that Sita who is known also as Janaki was found in the furrow of the field by King Janak who used to rule Mithila in those days and he raised her as his own daughter. Later he placed a condition in front of the suitors of Sita who came to marry Sita. According to the condition, any one who would be able to string the divine bow of Lord Shiva could only marry her. Ram- the then prince of Ayodhya only was able to lift the bow and the bow broke off as he tried to string it. Thus Sita became wife of Lord Ram.
Janakpur lies in Terai region at the base of Himalayan mountain range in Dhanusa district. Rivers like Dudhmati, Kamala and Balan surround Janakpur.
i) Vijaya Dashami: It celebrates the triumph of Lord Ram over evil king Rawan and is regarded as the victory of virtue over evil. It falls on mid September and is the tenth day of Nepal’s biggest annual festival- Dashain.
ii) Deepawali: It is the festival of lights which falls on Late October or early November. All homes are brightly lit with candles and lamps which is believed to attract the goddess of wealth.
iii) Chhath Puja: It is the day of worship of sun which falls six days after Deepawali.
iv) Ram Nawami: It marks the birth day of Lord Ram and falls in March or April.
v) Vivaha Panchami: It falls on the fifth day of the bright fortnight in late November or early December and is celebrated with enthusiasm especially in Janakpur( the birthplace of Sita) when wedding of Sita with Ram is re-enacted with a procession carrying Ram’s image to Sita’s temple by elephant.
When to visit:-
September to March is the ideal time to be in Janakpur not only because the weather is pleasant during these months but the whole town is painted in festive mood in these months.
i) Railway station:
Railway connecting Janakpur with an Indian town of Jayanagar is the only operational Railway in entire Nepal.
ii) Mithila Villages:
The villages around Janakpur still retain the Ancient Mithila culture. Mithila Art which is popular even in International level decorates the mud walls of the Mailthili houses.
Kuwa which lies about 1km south of Murali Chowk is the most easily accessible Maithili village.
Major Religious sites:-
i) Janaki Temple:
The temple dedicated to Sita is believed to lie on the exact spot where King Janak found the infant Sita in the furrow of a ploughed field. It is the huge marble temple with marble arches, domes and turrets built in Mughal style in 1911. It holds the idols of Sita, Ram and Ram’s brothers- Laxman, Bharat and Satrughna. Ram is taken to be the incarnation of Lord Vishnu and Sita to be incarnation of Laxmi. The deities being placed in the inner sanctum, the gate remains open from 5 to7 am in the morning and 6 to 8 pm in the evening. Even non- Hindu can enter this temple.
ii) Ram Sita Vivaha Mandap:
This temple built in Pagoda style is believed to mark the spot where Ram and Sita were married. It remains open from 5am till 9pm.
iii) Temple of Ram:
This temple of Ram popularly known as Ram Mandir in Nepali is the oldest temple in Janakpur and is located in a stone courtyard southeast of Janaki Temple. It was constructed in 1882 in the pagoda style typical to hills. Although the temple is dedicated to Ram, there are several smaller shrines scattered around the temple complex like idols of Lord Shiva, Hanuman and Durga.
iv) Dhanus Sagar:
The largest ceremonial tank in Janakpur -Dhanus Sagar lies just below the series of Ghats. The ghats are located just opposite of the entrance to Ram Mandir. Small Janak Mandir dedicated to King Janak lies near to it.
v) Sankat Mochan Temple:
Located about 100m south of Ramananda Chowk, this temple is dedicated to monkey god ‘Hanuman’ where a live Rhesus monkey kept in the cage is worshipped as God Hanuman. Devotees feed it with offerings of banana and sweet.
It is located 15km northeast of Janakpur where people believe Ram had lifted the bow of Lord Shiva in response to King Janak’s announcement that anybody who can string that bow would be considered eligible to marry Sita.
Bihar Kunda and Ratan Sagar Kunda are other religious sites in Janakpur which lie to the west of Ramananda Chowk.
How to Reach:-
Janakpur can be reached either on bus or on domestic flights.
It lies128km south-east of Kathmandu and can be reached after 11hours of busride from Kathmandu. Buses are available from New Buspark and Kalanki of Kathmandu.
Air lines like Buddha Air have daily flights between Janakpur and Kathmandu and it takes about 20minutes to cover the flight.
Where to eat or stay:-
Janakpur Area is crowded with many big and small hotels. Some of them are:
i) Rooftop Family Restaurant:
Located near to the Janak Mandir, it remains open from 9:30am till 9:30pm. Vegetarian curries and a Chinese cuisine are among the must-try menu of this restaurant.
ii) Sanjog Restaurant:
Located down a lane across Dhanus Sagar at the west end of Station Road, it is a clean restaurant with menu of hygienic foods.
iii) Kathmandu Guest House:
This Guest House offers a very simple room for a stay which is relatively cheap. Rooms are equipped with fans, mosquito nets and clean bathrooms with squat toilets.
iv) Hotel Welcome:
Located in the convenient place, it is a cheap Hotel to stay. The rooms have been classified as room with bathroom, room without bathroom and room with Air Conditioner. Some of the rooms have Mithila Pantings hung on the wall. It houses a good vegetarian restaurant too.