Janakpur Dham: A Proposed Ramayan Tourism Circuit in Nepal

During last year’s election campaign in Nepal, most of the leaders had floated dreams of development in the voters. As this article is dedicated to the development possibility of Janakpur, here it is necessary to depict that Rajendra Mahato, central leader of Rastriye Janata Party, Nepal (RJPN) won from Janakpur constituency defeating veteran Nepali Congress leader & ex-deputy prime minister, Bimlendra Nidhi.

During the election campaign Mahato was claiming that Nidhi had won from this constituency many times but he could not develop Janakpur. Mahato had also persuaded voters saying if he (Mahato) wins, he would make Janakpur developed.

Notwithstanding, he did not speak about any roadmap for developing Janakpur. There could be many ways forward for developing the city. Here, the columnist has tried to shed light upon a project named ‘Ramayan Circuit’ which is possibly one of the landmark projects for the elected leaders and concerned bodies.

Background

In November, a two-day international conference on “Ramayan Circuit” was accomplished in Janakpur. The conference was hugely participatory. Prior to this conference, a big number of people were unaware about the concept of “Ramayan Circuit”.

Amid this, as far as I know, most of the people do not know about the twin city agreement which was forged in 2014 between Nepal and Bharat during the visit of Bharat’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Yes, the specific agreement was signed to develop Ayodhya and Janakpur as twin cities.

Janki Mandir for Maa Sita in Janakur Dham, Nepal (Credit: Wikipedia)

Nepal and Ramayan Circuit

‘Jahan Jahan Charan Pare Raghubar ki’, i.e. places where Bhagwan Ram puts his steps – the basic concept of Ramayan Circuit commenced from this quote. Dr. Ram Avatar Sharma, a Bharatiya researcher has travelled the places where Bhagwan Ram walked through during his fourteen years of exile in jungle.

Dr. Sharma has identified the places and published a book- “Jahan Jahan Ram Charan Chali Jahin“, which has been submitted to the Bharatiya government. From this juncture, concept of Ramayan Circuit got promoted and came into priority of government. Currently, Bharat’s government has a plan to connect all the places where Bhagwan Ram put his steps. From this, two candid outputs would come out. First, legacy of Hindu culture would be preserved. Second, after developing the circuit, the concerned and adjoining places would get developed. 

More importantly, in the inaugural session of the conference, Culture Minister of Nepal, Jitendra Naryan Dev said that, culture and language have stronger bonding than political relations; India and Nepal have a unique relationship, and such programmes will further strengthen it. Similarly, shedding light upon old ties between both the countries; Bharat’s Ambassador to Nepal, Manjeev Singh Puri said that, it is necessary to carry forward this relationship as per the requirements of modern time. He added that; if required, India will provide all possible help‘.

The basic objective of the conference was to give thrust on all aspects of social, cultural and religious ties between Mithila and Awadh besides developing connectivity between Janakpur and Ayodhya.

Twin cities initiative

Despite the agreement between Nepal and Bharat on developing Ayodhya and Janakpur as twin cities, not much progress has been seen. Wondering whose fault it is! Amidst all this, Mithila Avadh Culture Preservation Council (MACPC) has taken an initiative to give concrete shape to the issues on which the agreement has been signed. In clause three of the agreement, it is written – to exchange expertise and cooperation in the field of service delivery, transport, shelter, education, culture, sports, waste water and solid management, infrastructure, environment, public health, science and technology, tourism, heritage management, urban renewal, urban and regional planning and related matters.

It is unfortunate for Janakpur that no developments have been carried out as yet.

Way forward

When the government declared Janakpur as a temporary capital of province-2, two other major areas in the province, Birgunj and Sarlahi, have also staked their claim to become the capital of the province. As we know, this is a matter for government to decide. But, Janakpur must develop basic infrastructure. By the way, a big project of Asian Development Bank (ADB) is in its implementation phase for the development of Janakpur, but the sluggishness of this project and ignorance over qualitative works have dissatisfied the local population.

Janakpur is also called a ‘city of ponds’, but the condition of these ponds is miserable. Most of the ponds are ruined and their ridges are illegally occupied by people. Mosquitoes and dust have made life difficult.

In this scenario, the twin cities agreement could be a hope generating entity for Janakpur.

Last but not the least- two things must be done as soon as possible. First, since the twin cities agreement covers all the dynamics which are needed to make a city developed, all the concerned authorities should prioritise it. The elected mayor and political leaders belonging to Janakpur have to be proactive to make the agreement materialise. Second, the Bharatiya Embassy in Nepal must renew the agreement once its validity ends.

By- Randhir Chaudhary
Email: [email protected]
Twitter: randhirJNK


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