We kick started our very first International bike ride from India to Nepal. Excitement levels were sky rocketing as we entered Nepal via Kakarbitta which is 30 km from Siliguri. The roads leading to Nepal are simply stunning with tea plantations on either side showcasing a green canvas on Mother Nature's lap. Also, we had our first glimpse of snow clad mountain peaks en-route to Janakpur.
Having heard so much about Nepal's hospitality and beauty, we had our first hand experience almost immediately as we got the best of the roads to ride on. The country is strikingly beautiful with the mighty Himalayas on your right and green pastures on either side of the road. The bright colored beautiful looking compact homes are one of the few striking things that you cant even imagine in your dreams.
Janakpur is one of the most holiest places in Nepal. Legend has it that this was the birth place of Goddess Sita and also this is where Lord Ram and Sita were wedded. To mark the significance of these two events, stands tall two magnificent temples - 'Janaki Mandir' & 'Ram Sita vivah mandir.' The Janki mandir is stunningly built in Islamic style with large domes and Ram Sita mandir, adjacent to Janki mandir, is built like a Pagoda.
Surprisingly, these temples are not very old and were built in 1910. The other significance of Janakpur is the Ram mandir built in 1882. The best way to see this place would be to go for an early morning/evening walk. It is great to see this mandir still in it’s former state and also spend time soul searching.
The most impressive event in Janakpur is the "Ganga Aarti." Elaborate rituals are performed daily in the evening around 6 pm. This ritual is performed by three pujaris, dressed in their best attire, they never miss a beat and are always in sync. The bhajjans are very catchy, so do not be surprised if you start tapping your feet and start humming along with the other devotees and slowly move to trance state.
The beauty of this place is that you can pretty much see the entire town gather on the banks of river Ganga for the daily Aarti. In an age, where time is money and people are just looking at more opportunities to expand their business, this town shuts down their business religiously before the Aarti. It feels like they have shut down their worries too and come together as one big family to sing along giving them a sense of peace and contentment.
We checked into Hotel Welcome. This is one of the best properties to stay in Janakpur. They have huge and spacious rooms and bath, comfortable bed and 24 power backup. They serve good food - the biryani & masala chai is highly recommended. Also, their service is exceptionally good. The owners are very kind and helpful and are always available to take care of their guests. Another best part about the hotel is their prime location. All must visit places are within 500 mt and can be covered by foot. However, the only con is the hotel is getting a face lift and there is no lift facility as of now.
Very close to Ram mandir is the Roof Top restaurant, which is a must try. One of the best places to dine in Janakpur. The service is very good and prompt.
Next Stop Koshi Tappu