Exploring Janakpur Dham: The Ancient Capital of Mithila

Exploring Janakpur Dham: The Ancient Capital of Mithila

Exploring Janakpur Dham: The Ancient Capital of Mithila

Continents like Asia and Europe, as well as the rest of the world, offer unique experiences for holistic living. One such place is Swaswara, located on Om Beach in Gokarna. For those looking for a place to stay in Shekhawati, Piramal Haveli is worth considering. If you're seeking luxury travel in a pilgrim's city, the Westin Pushkar Resort & Spa is a great choice. Experience the vibrant Lucknow life by staying at Clarks Awadh. Janakpur Dham, the venue of Ram Janaki's wedding, holds historical significance as the ancient capital of Mithila. Although it is now located within the political boundaries of Nepal, it still remains culturally connected to Mithilanchal. This district, known as Dhanush, got its name from the Dhanush or bow that was broken during the Ramayana era.

The Ramayana story revolves around two significant journeys known as Yatras. The second journey, in which Sri Ram travels towards the south and engages in a battle with Ravana from Lanka, is more well-known and remembered by the general public.

His initial journey is to Janakpur accompanied by his mentor, Vishwamitra. It is in a garden there that he has his first encounter with Sita Ji. Subsequently, he undertakes the task of breaking Shiva's Dhanush in order to earn the right to marry Sita. Alongside his three brothers, he ties the knot with Sita and her three sisters in the city of Janakpur.

Goswami Tulsidas provides a detailed account of the wedding between Sri Ram and Janaki in his work, Ramcharitmanas. The festival of Vivah Panchami, which commemorates the date of their wedding, is still celebrated in Janakpur and Ayodhya.

The tale of Ma Sita begins when Raja Janak of Mithila discovered her in a field after performing a worship ritual to Haleshwar Mahadev. The location of this event is now known as Sitamarhi. Sita was then brought up in the palace of Raja Janak in Janakpur.

On the occasion of her wedding, Raja Janak proclaimed that the person who could successfully break Shiva's bow, known as Dhanush, would be granted the opportunity to marry Sita. Just a day before the Swayamvara, which is the ceremony where the bride chooses her groom, Sita and Sri Ram coincidentally encountered each other in a garden. Although they did not exchange words, a deep understanding formed between them, indicating that they were destined to be united.

Sita offers her prayers to the deity Gauri or Parvati and quietly expresses her desire to marry Sri Ram. As fate would have it, Sri Ram successfully breaks the bow and they are married. Additionally, Sri Ram's brothers Bharat, Lakshman, and Shatrughan also marry Sita's sisters Mandovi, Urmila, and Shrutikirti respectively.

The intricate customs and traditions followed in a Maithili wedding are connected to the story of the Ramayana, just like the warm welcome offered by Janak. The women of Mithila feel proud that Sri Ram is their son-in-law and enjoy playfully teasing him. The folk songs of Mithila also commemorate this special relationship.

I had always wanted to visit Janakpur Dham ever since I had the opportunity to explore Ayodhya and translate the Ayodhya Mahatmya. I have visited many places that are connected to the Ramayana, including several sites in Sri Lanka, but I had not yet been able to visit Mithila for a long time.

I had previously seen images of a large Janaki temple in Janakpur. However, now there is a similarly magnificent temple being built for Janaki in Ayodhya, making me feel that it is the right time to visit her temple in her original homeland.

The temple is extremely large and it instantly reminded me of the Haveli of Srinathiji in Nathdwara. The architectural style of Rajasthan is clearly visible from the first glance. I attempted to draw a connection between the two, but it was during a conversation with the priest at this temple that I discovered it was actually built by the saints of Galata Ji temple in Jaipur.

The temple is known as Naulakha Mandir because it was constructed by Rani Vrish Bhanu of Tikamgarh with nearly nine lakh gold coins in 1910 CE. The temple was built on the site where a golden statue of Ma Sita was found in the 17th CE. According to the information provided on the UNESCO website, the oldest sections of the temple can be traced back to the 11th and 12th CE.

Outside the main entrance of the temple, there is a spacious area covered with white marble flooring. As you approach the door, you kindly remove your shoes and proceed inside. The surroundings are bustling with numerous devotees, among them are several newly married couples adorned in their elegant wedding attire.

Upon entering Janakpur Dham, one is greeted by a stunning temple situated in the center of a spacious courtyard. This temple is encircled by a corridor that runs along all sides, reminiscent of the architectural style found in Shekhawati Havelis.

The white temple is adorned with lively and vivid colors. I ascended the temple steps and was greeted by the magnificent sight of the Ram Darbar. Before me stood the four brothers and their four wives from Mithila. On the day of my visit, the golden shringar enhanced the temple's ambiance with its own radiant glow.

The first floor of the temple corridor is home to a cultural museum that showcases the story of Sita. The museum uses dioramas to depict the various events in her life. One particularly enjoyable aspect is the Badhai Geet, which are songs that are played when visitors reach the scene depicting Sita's birth. However, the most famous and celebrated scene in the museum is the breaking of the Dhanush (bow) by Sri Ram.

On exhibition, you can find a collection of Sita Ma's dresses and jewelry.

The walls in the surrounding area are decorated with Mithila or Madhubani Paintings, which usually portray the wedding ceremonies of Ram and Janaki. However, there is also a fascinating painting called Mithila Parikrama Dola that shows the path of the parikrama (circumambulation) around Janakpur. Additionally, there are paintings that portray the everyday lives of people, such as an ironsmith.

After leaving the museum, you emerge onto the temple's rooftop. This vantage point offers a complete and wide-ranging view of the temple situated in the center. Many people consider this spot their preferred location to capture photographs.

The Saligrama Mandir is a temple that is well-known for its use of Saligrama stones which are sourced from the Gandaki river in Nepal. Interestingly, the stone used for creating the Sri Ram Murti at the new temple in Ayodhya was also sent from Janakpur. If you visit the temple complex, you will notice a large Shila that bears a resemblance to the ones found in the area.

A specific area within the temple is set aside for housing countless Saligramas. These sacred stones are stored in a multi-level container that can only be observed through a mesh screen. Visitors have the opportunity to see an assortment of Saligrama stones in various shapes and sizes, even in complete darkness.

Every day, people show their worship to these individuals by offering them fresh flowers. Some of these individuals are also decorated with jewelry and clothing.

The Ram Dhun is being sung continuously at an open area near the Saligrama room, much like how it is done at the temples of Ayodhya.

Participating in singing the Ram Naam is a straightforward method of worship, particularly during the Kaliyuga era.

Located within the temple complex, but outside the main temple's boundaries, there is a structure known as the Vivah Mandap. This pavilion-like building features a slanting Nepalese roof and is partially open. Inside, you can observe a depiction of a royal wedding scene.

There are four small temples located at each corner of the platform, and they are dedicated to the four royal couples who were married at this location. Without the names written on them, it would be difficult to determine which temple belongs to each couple.

Take a stroll around the Janaki Mandap and the garden surrounding the temple. If you're interested, make a stop at the Gau Shala where you have the opportunity to feed the cows.

At one of the platforms, you can observe the footprints. This location serves as a resting place for the Utsav Murtis when they are not engaged in parikrama.

In one Shivalinga, there is a small temple dedicated to Lord Shiva, which contains eleven lingas collectively known as Ekadash linga.

Janaki Mandir in Janakpur hosts various festivals, with the most significant one being Vivah Panchami. This festival is celebrated on the fifth day of the waxing moon in the month of Margsheesh, and holds great importance for the temple as it commemorates the wedding that took place in Janakpur.

The festival of Ram Navami, which commemorates the birth of Lord Ram and occurs on the ninth day of the Hindu month of Chaitra, is celebrated with immense enthusiasm. A few days prior to Ram Navami, I had the opportunity to visit the temple, where preparations were underway to mark this auspicious occasion.

Dashain, also known as Dussehra, is a significant celebration in Nepal. You can find more information about this festival in our book titled "Navaratri – When Devi Comes Home."

Janakpur, similar to Ayodhya, is packed with numerous temples and ponds. The area boasts around 70 ponds and there are several temples that visitors can explore.

The Ram Mandir is a small temple situated near the Janaki temple and across from the Dhanush Sagar pond. It was constructed by Amar Singh Thapa and showcases a stunning example of traditional Nepali architecture. The temple features intricately carved wooden panels that are sure to captivate and enchant visitors.

There are numerous Shivalingas surrounding the Ram Mandir. Additionally, there is a presence of Devi in the form of a Pindi.

During my visit, I observed a gathering of women who were engaging in the activity of singing Bhajans

The Raj Debi Temple is situated near the Ram Mandir and is specifically dedicated to the Kuldevi of Janaka, known as Raj Debi. The temple is positioned in one corner of a spacious courtyard, which features a triangular Yagna kunda. The walkway leading to the temple is guarded by lions, symbolizing that Raj Debi is considered a manifestation of Durga.

Located between Janaki Mandir and Ram Mandir, there is a vibrant orange temple situated right in the middle of the road. This temple is specifically devoted to the ruler of Janakpur, also known as Raja Janak. He is referred to as Rajrishi or the King who possesses saint-like qualities.

The Lakshman Mandir is situated at the very beginning of the Janaki Mandir.

Janakpur boasts several other temples, such as the Sankat Mochan Temple, which is devoted to Hanuman ji, the Kapileshwar Temple, and the Bhootnath Mandir.

Janakpur's Ponds

Gangasagar, situated near Vivah Mandap on the opposite side of the road, is said to have water that was brought from the Ganga.

The name "Ram

Dhanush Sagar is situated in close proximity to the Ram Mandir.

Ratna Sagar is

Dashrath Kund is a

Kamal Kund is a

Sita Maiyya Taliayya

The Jaleshwar Mahadev Temple is a significant temple dedicated to Lord Shiva. It can be found approximately 16 kilometers away from Janakpur, along the route to Sitamarhi.

Dhanush Dham is a sacred site located approximately 24 km northeast of Janakpur. It is dedicated to the broken bow of Shiva, which was shattered by Sri Ram. To visit Dhanush Dham, individuals would need to stay in Janakpur.

Panch Kosi Parikrama is a religious practice that involves circumambulating around the Janakpur Dham. While it can be done on any day, dedicated followers typically choose to perform this Parikrama on the day of Holika Dahan.

Due to a lack of time, I unfortunately missed out on visiting the Gangasagar Public library and Handicrafts museum.

If you are planning to visit Janakpur Dham, keep in mind that the nearest airport and train station is located in Darbhanga, which is approximately a 2-hour drive away. However, there is also an airport in Janakpur itself that provides flights connecting to Kathmandu in Nepal.

The duration of border crossing varies from 20 to 40 minutes, depending on the amount of traffic at the time. To reach Janakpur, you have the option of using your

The currency used in Janakpur is the Indian currency.

There are not many choices for food, but there are plenty of desserts and fruits you can choose from. The temple holds a bhandara every day during lunchtime, and you are invited to have your meal there.

It is recommended to allocate approximately 2-3 hours to adequately explore and enjoy the attractions I have listed.

I came across an interesting article about Janakpur Dham and the Janaki Temple in Nepal that caught my attention. The author's concise yet informative descriptions of the temple and its cultural significance created a vivid image in my mind. I appreciate the author for sharing this remarkable cultural treasure.

This blog is truly amazing. I thoroughly enjoyed learning about the story of Ramayana. Thanks to your blog, I was able to comprehend the tale of Ram and Sita with ease.

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