Janakpur, Nepal: Travel/Tourist Information Guide
Janakpur, also known as Janakpurdham is the administrative headquarters of Dhanusa District of the Janakpur Zone. The city is located 123 km away from Kathmandu which is the capital city of Nepal. Janakpur is an important place for the Hindu religion and therefore the city has a substantial tourism industry. It is also home to the only operational railway in Nepal, the Nepal Railways. Janakpur is a cultural hub in the country. The ancient Maithili culture and language is still dominant in this city. In addition, Goddess Sita is also believed to be born in this place and thus it is closely related to the epic of Ramayana. Due to the connection of Sita, the place has developed as a pilgrimage site for many Hindus. The historic 500-year old Janaki Temple is the main attraction for Indian Hindu pilgrims and international tourists. The city is located at the base of the Himalaya mountain range and surrounded by major rivers such as Dudhmati, Jalad, Rato, Balan and Kamala. It is possible to see all the six seasons in Janakpur. The best time to visit the city is from September to March as the weather is pleasant and there are several festivals held during this period. There are major religious celebrations which include major Hindu festivals such as Dipawali and Vijayadahami followed by Chhath six days after Dipawali. Both the festivals Dipawali and Chhath are heavily celebrated with a carnival-like atmosphere. The locals take pride in the way these festivals are celebrated. There are several ways to reach Janakpur such as by plane, car and bus. Firstly, Janakpur has an airport and the airport is served by a few airlines, with daily flights to and from Kathmandu. Secondly, there are buses from Kathmandu to Janakpur. Bus tickets can be purchased from travel agencies. Local buses are cheaper but less comfortable.
Janaki Mandir is one of the finest pieces of architecture in Nepal. It was built in baroque Mughal style and it is Janakpur’s most important temple. It is dedicated to Sita, the wife of Rama and heroine of the Ramayana. It is believed to stand on the spot where King Janak found the infant Sita lying in the furrow of a ploughed field. The temple is frequently visited by pilgrims to worship the Sita statue in the inner sanctum. The temple is especially popular with women. Women usually come here wearing their best and with most colorful saris for the occasion. The most atmospheric time to visit the temple is early evening because the temple is draped with colorful lights.
Ram Mandir is a temple located in a stone courtyard at the southeast of the Janaki Mandir. Ram Mandir is the oldest temple in Janakpur. It was built in 1882 in the classic tiered pagoda style of the hills. The main temple is sacred to Rama. On the other hand, there are several smaller shrines to Shiva, Hanuman and Durga located around the compound. The busiest time is the early evening when the courtyard is filled with incense smoke and music.