Wander around the streets of Janakpur to experience the culture of Terai and southern Nepal. Situated about 225 kms southeast of Kathmandu, Janakpur is the capital to Dhanusa district of Nepal. The city has a great significance in the Hindu epic, Ramayan. Legend says that Sita, the daughter of King Janak, married Ram in Janakpur. Janak offered Sita in marriage if anyone could lift the bow of Shiva, left in the region many years earlier. Only Ram, prince of Ayodhya could lift the bow, hence their marriage.
Janakpur offers travellers a vibrant culture and art scene, lush Terai fields, picturesque temples and many sacred ponds. The city also lies on the route of the holy circle, or better known as Parikarama carried out by Hindus along with Ayodhya, Kashi and Brij which are in India. The centre of attraction in the city is the magnificent Janaki Mandir, one of the biggest in Nepal. The temple cost nine lakh rupess in its construction.
There is a statue of Sita in the inner area of the temple that was believed to be found in Ayodhya. Other statues include that of Ram and his brothers Laxman, Bharat and Shatrughan. The temple is worth visiting when the sun goes down as it is lit with colorful lights and vibrant colors. The famous Ram Sita Vivaha Mandir is besides the Janaki Mandir. It is the place where Ram and Sita got married.
Inside the Janaki Mandir is a historical musuem. One can observe where and valuable artifacts like jewellery, costumes and ancient relics. The most interesting part inside the museum is the animation dolls depicting the life story of Sita. Though everything is simple, it is worth visiting. Visitors also should not miss the numerous sacred ponds in the city. Among the numerous ponds are the Dhanush Sagar and Ganga Sagar which are located close to the city. People also perform ‘aarati’ in special occassions near the sacred ponds to worship the deities.
Another important religious site in Janakpur is the Dhanushadham which lies about 18 kms northeast of the city. It is famous for being the place where the remains of the bow of Shiva was found. According to Hindu myths, Ram lifted up the bow to obtain Sita’s hand in marriage. Dhanushadham also offers lush green surroundings, religious sightseeing and vibrant Maithili art and culture.
You’re bound to hear a number of different languages as you walk around the vibrant streets. Diverse ethnic groups such as Yadavs, Brahmins, Rajput, Chhetris, Tharu and Telis dwell here. Each group has their own language along with the omnipresent Nepali language as well. The local people mostly communicate in Maithili. You might also hear typical English and Hindi.
The region sees more visitors during religious celebrations including Chhath Puja, Deepawali, Vivaha Panchami and Vijaya Dashami. The city is heavily decorated during festivals . The ambience is very carnival-like during such festivals. A notable festival that honors both Ram and Sita is the Ram Nawami, which marks the day Lord Ram was born. On the day of Vivaha Panchami, people re-enact the wedding of Ram and Sita in the Vivaha Mandir. There are various stage shows and interesting cultural programs hosted throughout the city.
Janakpur is one of the most renowned places of Nepal. It is one of the best offbeat destinations of Nepal. If you want to experience the rich culture and traditions of the Maithili people, then it’s really worth visiting this place.