Home Features Janakpurdham awaiting to be recognized as World Heritage Site
January 9, 2020

Janakpurdham awaiting to be recognized as World Heritage Site

Ajay Kumar Shah (Dhanusa)

Janaki Mandir
Janaki Mandir. Photo: Shahiman Rai/Highlights Tourism

Janakpurdham is predictably awaiting recognition of world heritage sites for being the most popular tourist destination for historical, religious and cultural significance.

Efforts to get world heritage site recognition for Janakpurdham are being made at the local and national level. However, the absence of precise evidence to prove Janakpur’s importance and lack of efficient efforts on the part of officials led to the delay in receiving the reciprocal response for this historical, religious and culturally rich tourist destination.

Janakpurdham has been the capital of pristine Mithila kingdom in the past and is also the temporary capital of province no 2 at present. Janakpurdham is just 123 km far from Kathmandu which was founded in the early 18th century. Janakpurdham’s popularity has skyrocketed recently after it was officially visited by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh Yogi Aditya Nanda.

Inside Janaki mandir. Photo: Shahiman Rai/Highlights Tourism

The world’s attention is drawn towards attractive ancient architecture, temples, monasteries, arts, crafts and many deities. Janakpurdham is famous for its vibrant Maithali, Bhojpur, Awadhi, Nepali cultures, festivals like Ram Navami, Vivaha Panchami, Holi, Bijaya Dashami, and Chhat.

This is also the historical as well as the mythical place where ancient king Janak who was the ruler of Mithila kingdom found his daughter Sita here who was later married to the Indian prince of Ayodhya known as Ram. Ram had won the hands of Sita in marriage at a royal contest by breaking the bow of Parshuram which is believed to have been given to King Janak by Parshuram himself in the mythological periods as described in the Hindi religious epics.

Especially, the place is significant for the Hindu pilgrims. However, the government officials are of the opinion that since the Hindu pilgrims usually visit Janakpur as religious pilgrims and hardly spend money, there is dire need to publicize this historic, mythical and religious destination as popular destinations to lure more foreign tourists.

This place has profuse latent potentialities to be recognized as the world-renowned tourist destinations. The worth seeing places are Janaki temple, Ram Mandir, Ram Sita Vibah Mandir, Rajdevi Mandir, Laxman Mandir, Janak Mandir, Ganga Sagar, Dhanusha Sagar, and Argaja Sagar.

The musical sounds of rhyming Maithali songs and hymns heard every morning can be luring for all tourists visiting this place. UNESCO had almost recognized the Janaki temple as a world heritage site in 2008. However, due to lack of fulfillment of required local indicators for the criteria had caused the suspension of such recognition.

Social Development Minister Naval Kishor of Province 2 says that his government will continue to make efforts to enable Janakpur to get UNESCO recognition as a world heritage site which might take at least six months. Janakpur temple is also known was “Naulakh Mandir”.

Janakpur Sub-Metropolitan Assistant Mayor Rita Jha claimed that her Sub-Metropolitan city was making all preparations to enable recognition of Janakpur as one of the world heritage sites. Director-General of Nepal’s architectural department Damodar Gautam said that the local government should initiate efforts for the enactment of local laws for the fulfillment of the criteria during the recognition process.

The Janakpur town high officials also expressed that the issue of recognition for Janapur has been discussed with UNESCO and it is expected that the recognition will be gained within three or four years.

Historically, an Indian princess of Madhya Pradhesh based Tikamgadh had spent at least nine hundred thousand silvers to build Janakpur temple in the past. So, it is also called “Naulakh Mandir” which is literally named after spendings in construction of this historic and religious site. Its foundation was laid in 1894 and was completed in 1911 in Mughal architectural style.

The statues of Ram and Janaki are as old as 700 years, although the erection of the Janaki temple may date back to more than 100 years. The temple has a museum within its premises which can reflect the era of “Tretayug”- a Hindu era as described in Hindu epics.

Nepal Federation of Journalists province 2 chapter chairman Dipendra Chauhan says that Janakpur famous for its religious and historical importance has yet to get the publicity of higher magnitude indeed.

“Wider publicity of Janakpur in the world can bring more tourists here,” added Chauhan. Local tour operator Rupesh Singh is of the opinion that the tourism perspective of Janakpur can be enhanced if the Janakpur-Chitwan-Lumbini-Pokhara integrated tourist route is brought into force for the better tourism prospects.

Hotel welcome proprietor and tour operator Abhinesh Jhunjhunwala stressed the need for coordination with Pokhara tour operators for Janakpur-Chitwan-Lumbini-Pokhara integrated route to be implemented.

Usually, the months from September to December are suitable for weather conditions to visit Janakpur. According to culturalist Dr. Surendra Lav, homework should be done to turn the religious pilgrims coming to Janakpur into tourists.

The issue related to the recognition of Janakpur as a world heritage site has become vibrant after the federal government declared Visit Nepal 2020 as a national campaign and both provincial and federal governments are making efforts in this regard according to Janakpur Sub Metropolitan Mayor Lal Kishor Shah.

Shah further said plans are underway to bring more tourists during Visit Year 2020. He also claimed that Janakpur town has intensified its efforts to make provisions for railway and airport connectivity in this regard which were suspended for several years in the past.

Train at Janakpur

Chief Minister of province no 2 Mr.Lal Babu Rawat at a recent meeting of all party representatives held in the premises of Janaki temple has decided unanimously to promote tourism in this area with all possible means.

Now let’s see what the travelers in the past said about Janakpur and Janaki temple. “I was eager to see Sita’s birthplace in the then kingdom of Mithila: the place where the Sita Swayamvara was held and the Vivhaha Vedicak performed in the presence of many great sages. It was really amazing to see.” Another tourist put in, “Most visited destination in Nepal. Janaki temple was really good and we recommend you to visit it. It is amazing.”

Other tourists say, “Janakidevi temple Is originally the palace of Janaka king, father of Sitamaiya. The idols of Shri Ram, Sita Maiya and Hanuman are present there. There is a museum of puppets portraying the life history of Sita and Ramayan. It’s a must-visit temple in Janakpurdham.”

New Janakpur Project

The other tourist puts in saying, “The Janaki temple stands still ready to share the history from a long time back. While the Ramayana is considered as mythology, the Janaki temple has collected massive history from the past. It is a beautiful temple with Islamic architecture.”

The last of all but not the least remarks made about Janakpur is “Janakpur is a city in Nepal close to Indian Border which is believed to be the birthplace of goddess Sita and place of her marriage with Lord Ram. The city is a center for religious and cultural tourism.”

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