History of Sitamarhi District

This is the place where Sita was born, the main character of the epic Ramayana. The town is situated along the border of Nepal. The district of Sitamarhi was carved out of Muzaffarpur district on 11 December 1972. It is situated in the northern part of Bihar. Its headquarter is located at Dumra, five kilometres south of Sitamarhi.

Sitamarhi is a sacred place in Hindu mythology. Its history goes back to Treta Yug. Sita, the wife of Rama sprang to life out of an earthern pot, when Raja Janak was ploughing the field Punaura near Sitamarhi to impress upon Lord Indra for rain. It is said that Raja Janak excavated a tank at the place where Sita emerged and after her marriage set up the stone figures of Rama, Sita and Laxman to mark the site. This tank is known as Janaki-kund and is south of the Janaki Mandir.

In course of time, the land lapsed into a jungle until about 500 years ago, when a Hindu ascetic, named Birbal Das came to know the site by divine inspiration. He came down from Ayodhya and cleared the jungle. He found the images set up by Raja Janak, built a temple over there and commenced the worship of Janaki or Sita. The Janaki Mandir is apparently modern and is about 100 years old only. The town however contains no relics of archaeological interest.

This district is often bereaved by natural calamities. One of the most devastating is excess flooding due to mis-management of the banks by both civilians and government officials. This town was almost completely destroyed by the earthquake of 1934.

The district of Sitamarhi was carved out of Muzaffarpur district on 11th December 1972. It is situated in the northern part of Bihar. Its headquarter is located at Dumra, five kilometers south of Sitamarhi. The district headquarter was shifted here after the town of Sitamarhi was devastated in one of the worst ever earthquake in January 1934.

Sitamarhi might have been a part of the old Tirhut district of Bengal or Muzaffarpur district under the State of Bihar, but it never shared its history with any other place. It has it own distinct historical identity and importance and is one of the most sacred and revered places for devout Hindus. There are two versions regarding the place being named Sitamarhi, but in both the version the common factor is that King Janak, in order to pull his subjects out of difficult situations like draught, hunger, etc. decided to perform some Yagya. He set out on an earth purification mission and for that he started tilling the land from a place where he established the deity of God Shankar (Rudra) presently known as Haleshwar Asthan and when he reached the present day Punaura, a beautiful baby girl sprang out of the furrow (Sita) and as such she was named Sita. The King picked-up the child in his arms as if she was his daughter and took her into the temporary camp marhi and since thereafter the place was called Sitamarhi (marhi in Nepalese means a hut).

At the point where Sita Jee was found from the furrow, there still is a temple and pond. The sacredness of the place could be gauged from the fact that the entire landscape of Sitamarhi is dotted with various temples, co-related to various mythological stories and according to one such story, the other district headquarter Sheohar has also its name. The Pandits and Scholars say that once in past, while Ram was passing through a place where the present day Sheohar is situated and was going to Ayodhya from Janakpur after marrying Sita, Lord Shiva came to see him at that particular place. This place was initially named Sheohari which in due course of time deformed to Sheohar.

Panthpakar yet another place of mythological importance and is situated at 8 Kms. north of Sitamarhi. It is said that on way back to Ayodhya after marriage Sita rested here for a while under a Banyan tree. The old Banyan tree still stands there.

There is a Shiva temple on the bank of river Bagmati and the temple is the most ancient one. It is said and it appears from its very look and its surroundings as well, that Pandavas had established the deity and the recent records of excavation which was stopped later, indicated that the belief may not be unfounded.

The region passed through many emperors, invaders and local rurals. History has it that it was initially ruled by Raja Janak, the videh who was the Kind of Mithila. Shastras say and define the kingdom of Mithila as bounded in the north by Himalayas, in the south by Ganga (presently the southern border of Hajipur district), in the east by Champapur in Bhagalpur and in the west by Gandaki (presently in west Champaran). Mithi was the original rural and forefather of Janak and as such the name Mithila and Sita was called Maithili, besides being called vaidehi i.e. the daughter of Videh, Janki i.e. the daughter of Janak, etc. The region was also ruled by Lichhavis and Ajatshatru, the invader of Vaishali. Art and culture flourished in the reign of Ajatshatru. Education was also pristine and there was a university in Vaishali where persons from different corners of the world reached for enlightenment. Sometimes during 13 th and 14 th century Raja Shibe Singh of Mithila ruled the region in whose court Vidyapati was one of the Ratnas (celebrated courtier). The language is Maithili which is not only spoken in this district but across the international border in Nepal as well which is at a distance of about 41 Kms. Janakpur, assumed to be the centre of power and capital of Mithila in the ancient times which presently falls in Nepal, is at a distance of about 62 Kms. and is connected by NH-77. The territory up to Hajipur was disputed to be the part of Nepal and that dispute was resolved by a mutual treaty sometimes in the 19 th century at Sugauli.