Capital metropolitan city
Clockwise from top
Janaki Mandir, Ganga Sagar, an Inarwa-Kurtha service train in Janakpur and Vivah Mandap
City of religious and cultural significance
|• Mayor||Mr. Lal Kishor Sah (RJPN)|
|• Deputy Mayor||Mrs. Rita Kumari Mishra (RJPN)|
|• Total||100.20 km2 (38.69 sq mi)|
|Elevation||74 m (243 ft)|
|• Density||1,700/km2 (4,500/sq mi)|
|Time zone||UTC+5:45 (NST)|
Janakpurdham or Janakpur (Nepali: जनकपुर, Nepali pronunciation: [d͡zʌnʌkpur]) is a sub-metropolitan city in Dhanusa District, Province No. 2, Nepal. The city is a hub for religious and cultural tourism. It has been declared as the temporary capital for Province No. 2 until the Province Assembly votes for a permanent capital.
The city was founded in the early 18th century. According to tradition, storytelling indicates an earlier city known as Janakpurdham existed in the area, which was supposedly the capital of the Videha dynasty that ruled the Mithila region in ancient times.
Janakpur is located about 225 km (140 mi) southeast of Kathmandu. As of 2015[update], the city had a population of 173,924, making it the largest sub-metropolitan city of Nepal. Janakpur is currently the third largest city in the Terai (after Biratnagar and Birgunj) and the seventh largest in Nepal.
Accounts from ascetics, pandits, and bards indicate that Janakpur was founded in the early 18th century. The earliest description of Janakpur as a pilgrimage site dates to 1805. Earlier archaeological evidence of the presence of an ancient city has not been found. King Janaka's palace is thought to have been located in ancient Janakpur as it is believed to be the capital of the Kingdom of the Videhas. According to Ramayana, he found a baby girl in a furrow, named her Sita, and raised her as his daughter. When she was older, he offered her in marriage to anyone who was able to lift the bow of Shiva, left near Janakpur a thousand years earlier. Many royal suitors tried but only Rama, the prince of Ayodhya, could lift the bow. According to an old song, this bow was found northeast of Janakpur.
Until the 1950s, Janakpur was a cluster of rural hamlets inhabited by farmers, artisans, priests, and clerks who worked for the monasteries that controlled the land. After the Independence Act in India, Janakpur expanded into a commercial center and became the capital of the Dhanusa District in the 1960s.
As Rama and Sita are major figures in Hinduism, Janakpur is an important pilgrimage site for Hindus. According to the first millennium BC text, Shatapatha Brahmana, the Maithil king Videgha Māthava crossed the Sadānirā (Gandaki River), led by his priest Gotama Rahugana, and founded the Kingdom of Videha with Janakpur as the capital city. As Gotama Rahugana composed many hymns of the Rigveda, these events must date to the Regvedic period.[improper synthesis?]
Gautama Buddha and Vardhamana Mahavira, the 24th and final Tirthankara of the Jain religion are said to have lived in Janakpur. The region was an important center for the history of Mithila during the first millennium.
Geography and climate
Janakpur is located in the Terai, where the climate is humid subtropical: the months of March and April are hot, dry, and windy. The wet season lasts from May to September, followed by mild dry autumn from October to November. It is a cold winter from December to February.
The major rivers surrounding Janakpur are Dudhmati, Jalad, Rato, Balan, and Kamala.
|Climate data for Janakpur Airport (1981-2010)|
|Average high °C (°F)||22.2
|Daily mean °C (°F)||15.6
|Average low °C (°F)||9.1
|Average precipitation mm (inches)||11.7
Janakpur is one of the fastest developing cities of Nepal and is the largest sub-metropolitan city in the country. The city has good health care facilities, a number of parks, private schools, colleges, and internet service providers. There are medical, engineering, and management colleges that are affiliated to Tribhuvan University. The economy is mostly based on tourism, agriculture, and local industries.
The paintings on pottery, walls, and courtyards made by Maithili women are known as Mithila art.
Janakpur attracts migrants from the surrounding area, moving to the city for medical care, education, and jobs. The largest employers were the Janakpur Cigarette Factory Limited and Janakpur Railway until they closed in 2013 due to political corruption and heavy loans. By the end of 2018 Janakpur Railways resumed service. Zonal Hospital, Zonal Police, and the Banking Sector help the locals live a relatively easy lifestyle.
The city has many commercial banks, such as Nepal Rastra Bank, the State Bank of India, Nepal, Everest Bank LTD. Machhapuchhare, NIC Bank, Nepal Bank LTD, and Agriculture Development Bank.
Nepal Railways is the only operational railway in Nepal. It connects Janakpur to Siraha at the Nepal-India border and goes further to the Indian city of Jaynagar, Bihar. There is a customs checkpoint in Siraha for goods.
As of June 2011[update], the Janakpur municipality had 19,195 households and a population of 98,446 people with a density of 4,000 people per square kilometer. In 2015, it was declared a sub-metropolitan city that incorporates 11 surrounding villages. The current population is 173,924 people, making it the sixth largest city in Nepal.
Maithili is widely spoken in the area as the first language and is also used as the lingua franca. Nepali, Hindi, Marwari, and English are well understood. Languages like Bhojpuri and Awadhi are understood but less frequently used.
The Janaki Mandir temple is in the centre of Janakpur, northwest of the bazaar. It is one of the biggest temples in Nepal and was built in 1898 (1955 in the Nepali calendar) by Queen Brisabhanu Kunwari of Tikamgarh. It is also called Nau Lakha Mandir after the cost of construction, said to be nine lakh rupees. The temple is architecturally unique in Nepal: its inner sanctum contains a flower-covered statue of Sita that was found in the Sarayu near Ayodhya. Statues of Rama and his half-brothers Lakshman, Bharat, and Satrughna stand by Sita.
Adjacent to the Janaki Mandir is the Rama Sita Vivaha Mandir, a building that marks the event in which Rama and Sita were married.
The oldest temple in Janakpur is Sri Ram Temple, built by the Gorkhali General Amar Singh Thapa. Pilgrims also visit the over 200 sacred ponds in the city for ritual baths. The two most important ponds – Dhanush Sagar and Ganga Sagar, are located close to the city center.
Other religious sites
- Vivah Mandap temple is situated next to the Janaki Mandir
- Ram Tower is also next to Janaki Mandir. It was inaugurated by former Prime Minister Sushil Koirala, located to the south of Ram Temple.
- Kapileshwar Temple
On the night of the full moon in February and March, before the festival of Holi, a one-day Parikrama (circumambulation) of the city is celebrated. Many people offer prostrated obeisances along the entire 8 km (5.0 mi) route. Two other festivals honour Rama and Sita: Rama Navami, the birthday of Lord Rama, and the Vivah Panchami that re-enacts the wedding of Rama and Sita at the Vivah Mandap temple on the fifth day of the waxing moon in November or early December.
Janakpur has educational facilities where several of the country's elites went to school, including the first president of the Federal Republic of Nepal, Ram Baran Yadav. There are many private and government schools and colleges located in Janakpur. The oldest government school for higher studies is Ramsworup Ramsagar Bahumukhi Campus (RR Multiple Campus), which is affiliated with Tribhuvan University.
Gangasagar Public Library was established in 1955 and is situated between two historical ponds of Janakpur—Dhanuschatra Pond and Ganga Sagar. The library was reopened to the public in 2012. In recent times, a team of active and committed local youth workers has contributed to the revival of this library by organizing public book collections for the library. It is open daily for three hours, mainly for newspaper-reading but has few daily visitors.
Ramswaroop Ramsagar Multiple Campus Library is also accessible to the general public.
The local media of Janakpur primarily consists of several community radio stations, some TV channels, and a few print newspapers, such as Janakpur Today. Local Janakpur media primarily consists of radio shows, such as Mithila Jagaran.
2015 Nepal earthquake
According to Colin Stark at Columbia University, during the earthquake on 25 April 2015, "[a] part of India slid about one foot to 10 feet northwards and underneath Nepal in a matter of seconds. The part below Bihar slid under Nepal along a zone from Bharatpur, through Hetauda, to Janakpur."
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|Wikivoyage has a travel guide for Janakpur.|
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Janakpur.|