President Pranab Mukherjee on Friday offered prayers at the historic Janaki temple in Janakpur, Nepal and promised to construct two Dharmashalas to facilitate pilgrims to visit this ancient city in Nepal, bordering India. Mukherjee, the first Indian President to visit Nepal in 18 years, wore traditional headgear while visiting the Janaki temple where he offered prayers on the third and last leg of his three-day State Visit to Nepal. He was welcomed by priest reciting ‘Swasti vachan’, a kind of traditional Sanskrit prayer for welcoming guest.
“I am happy to announce during my State Visit to Nepal, that government of India will construct 2 Dharmashalas along the ‘parikarma path’ of Janakpur Dham to facilitate visiting this ancient city,” the President said. “I am confident that the twin city agreement between Janakpur and the ancient Indian city of Ayodhya will further strengthen the close bonds and enhance the cooperation between our two peoples – particularly in the development of trade and tourism in this region,” he said.
Describing his visit to Janakpur city as “memorable”, Mukherjee said this important pilgrimage destination is one of the most significant focal points of the cultural and spiritual linkages between India and Nepal. “I thank the Janaki mandir authorities and the people of Janakpur for receiving me today. I am deeply touched by their warm affection. I offer them greetings on the festival of Chhath from the government and the people of India and best wishes for their progress and prosperity,” he added. Large number of school children lined up the road from the airport to the temple. Several of them dressed up as characters from ‘Ramayana’ like King Janak, the father of Goddess Sita.
The temple was built in 1910 by Queen of Tikamgarh. It is located in the centre of Janakpur, which is said to be once ruled by King Janak. Built in bright white, the temple is constructed in a mixed style of Islamic and Rajput domes. The temple is a three storied structure made entirely of stone and marble. Janakpur is also considered as epicentre of protests by Madhesis who are demanding population based proportional representation in Parliament among others.