7 Sites to visit in Janakpur Dham and area
By Promisha Mishra
Any discussion of the most important cities in Hindu mythology will include Janakpur. It’s a place of endless fascination and study for those interested in religion, and offers a wide variety of temples, monuments and sites with deep religious significance and history. Here’s a snapshot of the must-see places.
1. Janaki Mandir (temple):
Janaki (Sita) was daughter of King Janak and Lord Rama’s consort in the Ramayana. In the epic, it is stated that Janaki was not born of any mother – she was found in a box inside the land that King Janak sought to cultivate. In 1910, Queen Vrish Bhanu built the temple. It is also called “Naulakha Mandir” which means it took her 9 lakhs or 9 hundred thousand golden coins to build this temple.
The bright white temple is considered one of the prime examples of Hindu-Koiri Nepali architecture. The main festivals celebrated here are Janaki Navami (in May), Vivah Panchami (in November )and Jhula (in August). During these festivals, the temple is decorated with special arts, lighting and bhajans are sung daily. On the north side of the temple is the Marba (marriage ritual site) or Vivah Mandap.
The Janaki Mandir stands out further due to the existence of a mosque at the back of the temple
2. Ram Mandir (temple):
The Ram Mandir is about a 10-minute walk from Janaki Mandir, right opposite Dhanusagar. At the right side of the temple are many stone idols of the Lord Shiva.
The main festival celebrated in Ram mandir is Ram Navami (during April) and Vivah Panchami. As Ram Navami is the birth tithi (date) of Ram, so special bhajans are sung on the day. On Vivah Panchami, some special traditional codes are performed between Ram Mandir and Janaki Mandir as marriage codes to be followed. The nearby Rajdevi Temple is decorated during the Dashain festival. On the 8th day of Dashain, Mahastami, thousands of goats are offered to goddess Rajdevi. According to the visitors and locals, daytime is for worship, while nighttime is to revel in the temple’s beauty.
3. Gangasagar (pond)
Gangasagar is the holy pond in Janakpur. Its name comes from from the words Ganga (the holy river in India) and Sagar (pond) which means the water for this pond has been brought in from the Ganga. This pond is worth seeing at night, when prayers are performed on the river bank with special chanting. Visitors can also enjoy a boat ride on the pond, even during the aarti time. Beside it lies the Ratansagar (a pond). These ponds are beautifully decorated during the chhath festival (in November and April).
Swargdwari is located at the west bank of Gangasagar. Formerly a cemetery, it’s now a picturesque park bedecked with flowers and home to a small Hindu temple. Its name means Swarg (The heaven) and Dwar (gate). So, this place is considered as a gate to heaven for the dead people.
About 13 kilometres from Janakpur, Dhanushadham plays a prominent role in the Ramayana: According to the epic, when Ram broke the special bow to win Sita’s hand, pieces of the bow fell into Dhanushadham. On the route to Dhanushadham from Janakpur lies Parsuram Talau, another pond with religious history. In between the pond exists a nearly 20-foot-high high Shiva idol and a snake concrete structure.
6. Nari Bikas Kendra (Women Development Center):
The nonprofit center provides a safe and supportive space for women from the Janakpur area to develop their skills and earn independent livelihoods. The artists’ cooperative has resulted in many women going on to start their own business. The center teaches literacy skills and business training to women, as well as no-judgment support sessions in which women can debate their roles in family and society.
Initially specializing in paper art typical to the Mithila region, the center has since expanded into sewing, screen-printing, ceramics and painting.
7. Mani Mandap
It lies in the Mujelia area of Janakpur. It is a belief that it is Lord Rama’s original Vivah Mandap. Within lies a very small temple structure and a big area of soil-filled land. Ahead it lies the Paisarni Sagar where Rama washed his feet before sitting on his Vivah Mandap. This place is surrounded by nature, and there’s a small village nearby.