In May 2000, I along with my family was at Darbhanga which is a small town in northern Bihar. My grandpa and grandma lives there. We had gone there to spend our summer vacations. We had planned two weeks of stay there. At that time I was in std. 5 and my brother, Johny was in std. 3. After 2 -3 days of stay my father suddenly came up with an idea to take us to Janakpur. It was a significant place of our culture and we hadn’t been there even once. Meanwhile one of my mamajis, (mamma’s cousin) also came to Darbhanga for some of his own job. We asked Papa to ask if he was free enough to come with us. After his agreement we were in all 5 persons to leave for Janakpur.
We went to the Darbhanga station and took a local train to Jainagar. It took 3-4 hours to reach there. It was meter gauge track then but presently the tracks have been converted to broad gauge and so now it hardly takes 2-3 hours to cover the same dist ance. From Jainagar we took a toy train to Janakpur. Jainagar – Janakpur route had a narrow gauge. We reached Janakpur after 2 hrs.
Janakpur does not fall within Indian borders. It lies in Nepal, a small neighboring country of India. So, it was a foreign trip for us. Johny and I were extremely happy with this information which Papa gave us in the train. Being a neighboring country, it has almost the same climatic conditions as of the states of north-eastern India. So as it was the month of May, the weather was extremely hot.
Janakpur is the capital of the kingdom of the “Mithila Naresh” Raja Janak. Yes, the same Raja Janak who was the father of “Goddess Sita “, Lord Ram’s wife. Janakpur is the place where Sita Maa was brought up. It is the place where the famous “swayamvara” of Sita and Ram took place. The word “Swayamvara” refers to an event in which several princes and kings visited the princess’s place and the Rajkumari decided whom to marry on some defined basis. This was one of the admirable concepts during those days as the daughters had full right to choose a perfect husband for them. Sita was spectacularly beautiful. So there were a large number of kings and prices who wished to marry her. In Sita’s “swayamvara “, all the interested kings and princes were asked to lift the heavy bow . Lord Ram visited the place with his Guru. When all the kings and princes failed to lift the bow, Lord Ram came forward and did the job easily (and in process broke the bow). Thus he got married to her in Janakpur .
As soon as one steps on the land of Janakpur he can easily feel its relation with our historical and mythological past .The air was so pure here. Janakpur is extremely rich in its culture and heritage. It is a place of significantly high importance for the people of mithila i.e. the maithil community. If it comes to the lack of funds they prefer to perform several rituals here in Janakpur at fewer expenses. Their local language was Nepali. The place was very backward, perhaps due to the fact that very few people know about the mythological significance of the place. It is a small town. At that time when we visited i.e. in 2000 there was not a single A.C. hotel in the town. Reaching the place we booked a hotel for us to stay. Reasonable hotels with basic cleanliness can be found easily at Janakpur.
The next day we took a rickshaw and went to see the huge palace of Raja Janak. I still remember my first view of the palace. The palace is extraordinarily large. It was difficult to cover whole of the palace, from extreme left to extreme right in a single snap. Yet the pictures below are some level best trials.
The royal Raja Janak had no doubt got a beautiful house for himself and his family. It is a white colored building. It has a number of windows. The palace is very well painted with wonderful art style which is famous in Darbhanga known as “Madhubani” painting. It is the form of painting in which various scenes of Sita and Ram are drawn. In this form of painting fine lines is not the priority. Major emphasis is given on the ability to present the scene wonderfully so that it can be well understood by the viewer. Each of the rituals and other events associated with the marriage of Ram and Sita is drawn on the inner walls. Every window has a beautiful design surrounding to adorn it better.
One of the most attractive parts of the palace is the “Marva”. “Marva” is what people generally call as “Mandap “. It is actually the place where the marriages take place. It was this place where the sacred marriage ceremony of Lord Ram and Maa Sita was performed. In olden days the kings used to have a separate place where a permanent “Hawan kunda“was made. All the religious ceremonies are performed at that place. So as for Raja Janak, the “Hawan”in the “bhawan” was one of the finest locations of His palace.
The “Marva” has several seats for other people to get themselves seated during the ceremony. These seats are now occupied by the statues of various kings, “Pandits “and other family members. They have been seated so presuming their positions during the marriage ceremony. The Idols of Ram and Sita are placed at the centre of the hall along with the “Pandit ji” who performed various rituals. This hall was worth seeing. It was the best part of the palace. We loved looking at the statues and trying to make out who was “lakshman”, Lord Ram’s brother. Rest characters were new to us. They were recognized by my mother and she kept enriching us with various facts related to each one of them.
The palace had a huge garden outside the main palace which was known as “vihars” in those days. They were meant for walks of the members of the royal family. The gardens have now been maintained in order to keep the beauty of the place alive. When we visited there the gardens were completely green and had several clean and fresh plants. It was very shady and so we enjoyed sitting on the grass under the trees avoiding the unbearable sun overhead and talking amongst ourselves.
The next day we went to take a round of the town. We saw that every corner of the town has a small temple.
Most of the temples in Janakpur are of Ram, Sita , Lakshman and Hanuman. Some temples had statues of various animals in its campus. This was something new to us. I do not remember the story of why the animals have been sculptured outside them. Perhaps it was beyond my list of questions at that age.
We even saw an extremely amazing statue of Hanuman jee in which He had many heads. Neither my parents nor me had seen such a Hanuman jee earlier.He had a goat standing next to Him which had an human head.
The next we explored was the market of Janakpur. The local market of Janakpur is flooded with cheap Chinese items. Attractive gadgets and electronic items are found in surplus. A large variety of video games, their cassettes, emergency lights, pocket torches and many more fascinating objects can be found here at considerable rates. Another well known item of Janakpur’s market is velvet, an expensive fabric. A large variety in colors and shades of different qualities of velvet are available here. As the town is very small so, it is not at all difficult to have one complete round of the market in one day, provided you prevent yourself to be amused by the attractions set at the entry of every next shop.
The nexy day we went back home (Darbhanga) via Jainagar taking with us the beautiful memories of the birth place of Maa Sita.