I spent the summer of 2016 teaching the CCNEPal course in Nepal, mostly in Terai. I was invited to teach in Janakpur, in eastern Terai for two weeks. It turned out to be a highlight of the summer. I am proud of what I was able to help them accomplish there. I am writing two blogs about Janakpur. The first one will just tell about the town and the second will focus on the medical scene there.
Janakpur is in an out-of-the-way section of Nepal, and it is a miniature version of Benares in many ways. The main language is Maithili, not Nepali or Hindi.
This is still in progress but I thought I would publish the rough version.
To learn about the town, there still is no better place to start than the BBC series on railways in India, that features the last railway in Nepal:
The tracks are being completely redone, and the railway station is not serving any travelers. I was told that during monsoon, the only way to get to the villages along the rail line is by the train – none of the roads are passable. People living there need to have all their supplies in, before the rain starts.
Next is a fourteen-minute English-language travelogue touting a packaged tour for Hinu pilgrims. (not my video, obviously)
Here is another English-language video, four minutes. The narrator decided to highlight parts of Nepal that were *not* Pokhara or Chitwan. Bravo!
Here is a ten-minute video that shows daily life in a village. It’s in Maithili; Note the wattle-and-daub construction – typical of this region of Nepal.
Summer monsoon 2016
I left the eastern Terai one day before the serious rains started. Above is an aerial view of the floods as they impacted Janakpur. This is no joke!
The bus stop
helpful guy at the ticket shop
There are few English speakers likely to be found at the bus stop. Look for this shop on the western side of the road, and this guy. He speaks English and is very friendly and helpful.
here is a better shot of the guy, his name is Ram.
I stayed on the premises of the host hospital, but most foreigners go to one particular hotel downtown:
While we are at it, in the vicinity of the hotel is the one and only “Department Store” of Janakpur. I always check to see if they have a) “organic coffee” and b) peanut butter. They did not stock either item. They did carry many other western items though.
The centerpiece of the town is the Janaki Mandir. Here’s a short video showing how it’s decorated with lights:
A sacred cow
More puja supplies
Because of Ram and Sita, a love story, the temple is popular for weddings, and something that astounded me was the number of processions, usually at night, and always with – a brass band. Sometimes two or three parades converged on the plaza at the same time – glorious chaos!
The Ram mandir is a stone’s throw away. The backside of the Ram Mandir is under construction:
Leaves for Pan