Janakpur – a kingdom of “Mithila Naresh”

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.

Raja Janak’s Palace

Raja Janak’s Palace

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.

way to Mandap

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.

Vivah Mandap
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.

one of the temples

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.

an horse outside one of the temple

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.

Hanuman Jee
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.


  • Ram Dhall says:

    Thank you for sharing this beautifully narrated account of Janakpur. Honestly, I always thought that Mithila Naresh’s capital was somewhere near Patna or so. Never knew it was a part of Nepal.

    The palace is really huge. The crafting of the idols of Lord Rama, Sita ji and Sankatmochan Shree Hanuman appears to be superb.

    Your post has created an urge to visit this place.

    Well done and keep on sharing your experiences.

  • Nandan Jha says:

    I need to go there some day. Probably should have done that long time back. I have killed many summers in Darbhanga, almost doing nothing (though we did lots of other stuff but they were not of any significance).

    By the way, in my days it used to take years to reach Jainagar from Darbhanga. :)

    Next time, I drive to Darbhanga, I better drive few hours more. Great story Swasti.

  • Nandan Jha says:

    Ram – Mithila is a different region altogether and bears almost no resemblance to Patna. Whether its languages, customs, rituals , food habits, you name it, its all different. If you remember the great TV series “Ramayana “by Ramanand Sagar, then all the rituals, customs as depicted in the TV Series is what still gets practiced in most of Mithila.

    I think, a Maithil is getting carried away.

  • Indresh says:

    nice one, made a good reading

  • Patrick Jones says:

    Well written, Swati. The inclusion of pictures made your post brighter this time. The multi-headed Hanuman comes as a surprise and the mythological link to this place is described in detail.

    However, it gives a feeling that Raja Janak actually lived in this building youve shown as Raja Janaks palace. Isnt it the Janaki Mandir, built by a Rani in early 20th century?

  • swastishipra says:

    Dear Nandan Jha ,
    Thanks a lot for reading. The place is truely of your interest. And you must visit the place once.

  • swastishipra says:

    Ram , I think I don’t need to tell you anything much about Bihar and Mithila as I hope that Nandan must have already given a good explanation.
    Thanks for reading and writing a comment.

  • swastishipra says:

    Patrick , I am Swasti, I think you did a typing mistake by referring me as Swati. But I am used of it :) since lot of people mistake by name as Swati instead of Swasti.

    Regarding your comment, it seems you have been to this place. About your inquiry as I know the Janaki mandir is a part of the great palace of Raja Janak. There is a Ram mandir as well in front of the Janaki mandir. The pictures of these mandirs were not available with me. So they have not been put.The pics put here are of the palace (as far as I remember since its about 8 years back)

  • manish khamesra says:


    If its you & Johney in photograph above with horse, its indeed a visit to Janakpur as seen by you as a kid :) You seemed to have enjoyed the trip a lot and we too learned a lot about Janakpur reading it :)

    As Ram has written, indeed Janakpur and its relation with Maa Janki is very less known to many of us. Raja Janak’s palace looks very attractive.

    Hanumanji with 10 heads, very interesting! It shows that there are many thing to learn, explore & understand.

    BTW, one thought : When marriage is decided on fullfillment of particular condition, can it be called a “Sawaymwar” ?

  • nandanjha says:

    By the way, the latest edition of ‘Outlook Traveler’ has a story on Janakpur. The author, Disha, has done a very good job and after reading the OT story, I still didn’t feel as complete as reading your story Swasti.

  • swastishipra says:

    Its really nice that places like Janakpur are being covered in magazines like”Outlook Traveler”. It is a great source through which a significant population can come to know about these places. The story becomes interesting as almost everybody is aware of Maa Sita and they love to know about the place where she spent her chilhood and got married. As far as the story being complete is considered, i must thank my mamma for this as she helped me a lot in traversing the memory lane.

  • sangesh says:

    You have nicely describe the place. even being a nepali i have not been to janakpur.

  • swasti shipra says:

    Hello Sangesh,
    Thanks a lot for reading the text. The place is really very nice. you must plan to visit janakpur when you go to nepal the next time.

  • roshan says:

    dear swasti,
    I read your story.I was your nice story.But the palace u told is not the palace of janak,It is the janki mandir built by late brish bhanu kumari(Queen of tikam gadh) in 20th century.Actually there is no any existence of older palace in janakpur.And the vivah mandap which is at the side of janki mandir is not the actual place of sita marriage.It was just built there for tourist attraction.Actual marriage place is in mani mandap which is near to cover hall of janakpur.
    I think your miss concept will be clear after tis information

  • Abhay says:

    Its nice going through it.
    I think Darbhanga and mithila region should be presented as an important cultural heritage of Bihar.
    All Biharis feel pride in it.
    But the idea of having a separate state sucks me.
    Are we heading to be states like nagaland,manipur,arunachal etc. about whom nobody cares???

  • the maithil guy!!! says:

    biharis feel pride in mithila’s culture,language,cuisine….lolzz!!!! that is just because bihar is culturally very very deprived as compared to other eastern counterparts..thus,it tries to exploit maithil culture in the name of bihari culture……if bihar was really so interested in mithila and maithili, then maithili would have been known in every part of the country just like bengali,assamese etc. there would have been maithili schools, board and hoardings would have been in maithili and maithili wich is spoken by more than 50% of bihar would not have been throttled before bhojpuri. bihar is synonymous with bhojpuri ..what does bihar do to promote maithili…darbhanga,madhubani would not have been the same as it was during darbhanga raj lacking development, mithila painting would not have become “madhubani” painting where madhubani is just a district of bihar. bihar is hell bent on eradicating the maithil identity and maithil youths are basking away in the pseudo sunshine of being a bihari……

  • ankit dulal says:

    Very nice.
    Very Glad to read detail about janakpur dham and wonderful complete picture.
    jay shree sita ram
    your sincerely
    ankit dulal

  • holy_pilgrimage says:

    How much time is take from Janakpur to Darbhanga by road.

  • Nandan Jha says:

    Darbhanga is about 100 Kms from Janakpur via Jayanagar. Darbhanga – Jayangar would take 1.5 hours (the roads are pretty good, I drove Darbhanga-Madhubani early this year). I have not crossed that border by car so I do not know. Usually for a day-return, it should not be too time consuming but may be it is faster to move by foot then taking a car. I have done other similar borders in that area and those are pretty straight forward (you register your details and you are good to go).

  • Neelam Dhir says:

    Dear Swasti,
    Very beautifully written post. I was looking for information on Janakpur and came across your post. Thank you so much.

    Can you please suggest best way to reach Janakpur from Delhi(preferably by train).


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