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Cities / Janakpurdham
Janakpur, more commonly Janakpurdham, is a city in Nepal. Janakpurdham is the administrative headquarters of the Dhanusa District of the Janakpur Zone and has a population of approximately 80,000. The city is located about 400 km south-east of Kathmandu, 20 km from the Indian border at 26° 42' 44" N, 085° 55' 18" E Janakpurdham has a substantial tourist industry due to its significance in the Hindu religion and is home to the only operational railway in Nepal, the Janakpur Railway.
HistoryMain articles: History of Mithila and Kings of Mithila Deities of Sri Sita Devi (far right) and Sri Rama (center) (with Sri Lakshmana (far left) and Sri Hanuman (below seated)) Janakpurdham, historically called Mithila, is the centre of the ancient Maithili culture, which has its own language and script.
The first millennium BC text Satpath Brahmana tells that the king Mathava Videgha, led by his priest Gotama Rahugana, first crossed the Sadanira (Gandaka) river and founded the kingdom of Videha, whose capital city was Mithila. As Gotama Rahugana composed many hymns in the Rgveda, these events must date to the Rgvedic period.
The most important historical reference to Mithila/Janakpurdham is in the Hindu epic Ramayana, where Lord Rama's wife Sita Devi (also called Janaki) is said to have been the princess of Videha. Her father, King Janak, found baby Sita in a furrow of a field and raised her as his daughter. When she grew up, the king announced that she should be wed by whoever was able to string the divine bow of Shiva. Though many royal suitors tried, Lord Rama, prince of Ayodhya, alone could even lift the bow. As Rama and Sita are major figures in Hinduism, Janakpurdham is an important pilgrimage site for Hindus.
In addition, both the great saints Gautama Buddha, founder of Buddhism, and Vardamana Mahavira, the 24th and final Tirthankara of the Jain religion, are said to have lived in Mithila/Janakpurdham. The region was an important centre of Indian history during the first millennium.
Geography and climateJanakpurdham is located in the Terai, alluvial, forested and marshy terrain at the base of the Himalaya mountain range.
EconomyJanakpurdham is one of the fast developing cities of Nepal and is on the way to meet the criteria for being the seventh Sub-Metropolitan city of Nepal. The city enjoys good transportation facilities including road and air connectivity with other cities of Nepal as well as India. Janakpurdham is also the only city in the country with railway access. The city has better health facilities than others in Nepal, as well as good private schools and colleges, Internet service providers and internet connectivity. Janakpurdham also has good power management and generally does not have power shortages.
Janakpurdham attracts immigrants from the surrounding area, who move to the city for medical care, education and jobs. The Janakpur Cigarette Factory Limited alone employs a large number. The staple food is rice. Typically, Maithili dwellings are made of clay and straw with an inner courtyard.
TransportJanakpurdham has an airport with connections to the Kathmandu. The narrow-gauge Janakpur Railway is the only operational railway in Nepal. Frequent bus service operates between Janakpurdham and other cities of Nepal. Within the city, travellers may hire manually pulled rickshaws.
DemographicsThe Maithili language is widely spoken in the area.
The centre of Janakpurdham is dominated by the impressive Janaki Mandir to the north and west of the bazaar. This temple, one of the biggest in Nepal, was built in 1911 (1968 in the Nepali calendar) by Queen Brisabhanu Kunwar of Tikamgarh. It is also called "Nau Lakha Mandir" after the cost of construction, said to be nine (nau) lakh. The oldest temple in Janakpurdham is Ram Mandir, built by the Gurkhali soldier Amar Singh Thapa. Pilgrims also visit the more than 200 sacred ponds in the city for ritual baths. The two most important, Dhanush Sagar and Ganga Sagar, are located close to the city centre. The Vivah Mandap temple is famous for its gardens.
Major religious celebrations include the major Hindu festivals such as Diwali, and Dhashara. followed by specacular Chhath Puja (worship to sun) 6 days after Diwali. On the full moon day of February/March before the festival of Holi, a one-day Parikrama (circumambulation) of the city is celebrated. Many people offer prostrated obeisances along the entire eight km route. Two other festivals honour Rama and Sita: Rama Navami, the birthday of Lord Rama, in March-April, draws over 100,000 people. And the Bibhaha (Vivah) Panchami festival re-enacts the wedding of Rama and Sita in the famous Vivah Mandap temple on the fifth day of the waxing moon in November or early December. Over 100,000 pilgrims come for a procession with elephants, horses, and decorated chariots with beating drums.
Pilgrims stay in one of the city's five good hotels or small guest houses. There are also five fully equipped dharmashalas (free lodgings for pilgrims).
ArtMaithili women are renowned for their traditional art, especially their paintings on pottery, walls and courtyards. These Mithila Paintings are famous internationally.
Janakpurdham has five cinema halls. They show current and older movies in Maithli, Hindi, Nepali, and English.
EducationJanakpurdham's education facilities are considered some of the best in Nepal, and include many private schools, madrasahs, and government colleges.
The Rajarshi Janak or Dhanusha University is proposed but not yet built.
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