Madhesh was a centre of some ancient Nepalese Civilisation of Madhesi people. Historically, this land has been a part of Mithila the southernmost eastern and central part of Nepal, Limbuwan the easternmost southern part, Shakya, Licchavi (kingdom), Malla kingdom and Khasang republics flourished on this land. This land has been the birthplace of Nepali Princess Sita of Mithila, the consort of Lord Rama. In ancient times, this land was ruled by great kings and emperors from Bimbisar, Ajatsatru, Ashoka, and Samudragupta to King Jayabardhan Salhesh of Janakpurdham (capital at Mahisauth, Siraha, Madhesh, Nepal). During 11-14th century, the Karnat dynasty reigned Madhesh, establishing its capital at Simraungarh of Bara. Thereafter, during 16-18th century, the Makwanpur's Sen dynasty ruled Madhesh.
|Biratnagar, 26°N, 87°E|
|Climate chart (explanation)|
|Janakpur, 31°N, 77°E|
|Climate chart (explanation)|
Biratnagar in Nepal near the eastern edge illustrates several differences:
- Moving inland and away from monsoon sources in the Bay of Bangladesh, the climate becomes more continental with a greater difference between summer and winter in Nepal.
- In the far western Madhesh, which is five degrees latitude further north, the coldest months' average is 3°C (5°F) cooler.
- Total rainfall markedly diminishes from east to west. The monsoon arrives later, is much less intense and ends sooner. However, winters are wetter in the west.
Terai in Nepal
In Nepal, Terai is differentiated into "Outer" and "Inner" Terai.
Outer Terai or Madhes begins at the southern edge of the Siwalik Hills. In ordinary usage the Terai extends to the border with India, even if drier, cleared agricultural land well south of the marshes may be included. The Outer Terai of far-western Nepal consists of Kanchanpur, Kailali, Bardiya and Banke districts. These were once called the Naya Muluk and lay on the periphery of the Awadh dynasty. After Nepal lost the Anglo–Nepalese War (1814–16) these districts were annexed by the British in the Sugauli Treaty and returned in 1860 as reward for Nepal's military aid in the Indian Rebellion of 1857.
East of Banke the Nepalese outer Terai is interrupted where the international border swings north and follows the edge of the Siwaliks adjacent to Deukhuri Valley. Here the Outer Terai is entirely in Uttar Pradesh's Shravasti and Balrampur districts. East of Deukhuri the international border extends south again and Nepal has three more Outer Terai districts Kapilvastu, Rupandehi and Nawalparasi.
In Chitwan district east of Nawalparasi the international border again follows the southernmost Siwaliks, placing the outer Terai in Bihar's West Champaran district. Then the international border extends south and the Nepalese Outer Terai is continuous across eleven districts to the country's eastern border. These additional districts are: Parsa, Bara, Rautahat, Sarlahi, Mahottari, Dhanusa, Siraha, Saptari, Sunsari, Morang and Jhapa.
The 2001 national census counted 10.3 million population (45% of the national total) in the outer Terai districts.
Inner Madhesh (Nepali: भित्री मधेस). It consists of seven elongated valleys (Nepali: उपत्यका, upatyakā) lying within the Siwalik Hills or between them and the 1,500-2,700 metre Mahabharat Range further north. Most of these valleys extend east-west or SSE-WNW parallel to enclosing ranges. They are five to ten kilometers wide (north-south) and up to a hundred kilometers long (east-west).
Nepal's Inner Madhesh valleys are (from west to east):
- Jogbudhā (Nepali: जोगबुढा) in Dadeldhura district north of outer Terai Kanchanpur district; a relatively small and undeveloped valley near the western border with India.
- Surkhet (Nepali: सुर्खेत) in Surkhet district, located north of outer Terai Kailali and Bardiya districts.
- Deukhurī (Nepali: देउखुरी), in Dang and eastern Banke districts. The international border follows the Duduwa Siwaliks south of this valley.
- Dāng (Nepali: दाङ)Valley parallels Deukhuri but north of it, also in Dang and Banke districts.
- Nawalparasi (Nepali: नवलपरासी) Nawalpur region of Nawalparasi district which stretch from Daaune Devi hill to Gaidakot to the Border of Chitwan District.
- Chitwan (Nepali: चितवन) occupies Chitwan and Makwanpur districts. Makwānpur lies north of Nepal's Parsa district.
- Marin Kholā (Nepali: मरिन खोला) is a small valley in Sindhuli district north of outer Terai Sarlahi, Mahottari and Dhanusa districts.
- Udayapur (Nepali: उदयपुर) is in Udayapur district north of Siraha and Saptari.
The 2001 national census counted 2.3 million population (10% of the national total) in these seven Inner Madhesh districts (counting Banke district as Outer Madhesh). Adding 45% in the outer Terai gives 55% of Nepal's population living in its Madhesh districts.
The Terai was heavily forested with Sal before heavy logging began in the 19th century, particularly for use as railroad sleepers. Foresters of the British Raj were of the opinion that in ancient times the Terai was cleared and cultivated. After Buddhism went into decline, the area was largely abandoned, and quickly re-vegetated with shrubs and trees, but took much longer — centuries perhaps — for Sal forest to return.
Inner Terai valleys historically were agriculturally productive but extremely malarial. Some parts were left forested by official decree during the Rana dynasty as a defensive perimeter called Char Kose Jhadi, meaning four kos forest; one kos equals about 3 km (1.9 mi). A British observer noted, "Plainsmen and paharis generally die if they sleep in the Terai before November 1 or after June 1." British travelers to Kathmandu went as fast as possible from the border at Raxaul in order to reach the hills before nightfall.
Tharu people and Nepali Maithils have been living in the Madhesh for many centuries, and reputedly had an innate resistance to malaria. Following the malaria eradication program using DDT in the 1960s, a large and heterogeneous non-Tharu and non-Maithil population settled in the region.
Pahari farmers from the mid-hills moved to the plains in search of arable land including Brahmin, Chhetri and Newar. Tharus constitute the traditional population in the western Terai and Maithil consist of traditional population in Eastern and Central Nepal. High caste migrants from the hills have purchased, or otherwise got hold of large landholdings. Together with traditional Tharu and maithil landlords, they constitute the upper level of the economic hierarchy, which in the rural parts of the Madhesh is determined to a large extent by the distribution and the value of agriculturally productive land. The poor are the landless, or near landless, Madhesh Dalits, including the Musahar and Chamar, as well as the traditional fishermen, the Mallaah, and some of the hill Dalits. In particular the Musahars rarely get other work than hard farm labor.
The Terai is the most productive region in Nepal with the majority of the country's industries. Agriculture is the basis of the economy. Major crops include rice, wheat, pulses, sugarcane, jute, tobacco, and maize. In the eastern districts from Parsa to Jhapa they support agro-based industries: jute factories, sugar mills, rice mills and tobacco factories.
Cities over 50,000 population in Nepal's Terai include:
|Biratnagar||Morang||166,674||agro-industry, education, trade/transport Hub|
|Birganj||Parsa||112,484||trade/transport hub, agro and other industry|
|Dharan||Sunsari||95,332||tourism hub and destination, education, financial services|
|Bharatpur||Chitwan||89,323||agro-industry and food processing, tourism, health care, education|
|Bhim Dutta||Kanchanpur||80,839||transport hub, education, health services|
|Butwal||Rupandehi||75,384||transport hub, retailing, agro-industry, health care, education|
|Hetauda||Makwanpur||68,482||transport hub, cement factory, large and small-scale industry|
|Janakpur||Dhanusa||67,192||transport hub, agro-industry, education, health care, pilgrimage site|
|Nepalganj||Banke||57,535||transport hub, retailing, financial services, health services|
|Siddharthanagar||Rupandehi||52,569||trade/transport hub, retailing, tourist and pilgrim services|
Mahendra Highway crosses the Nepal Terai from Kankarbhitta on the eastern border in Jhapa District, Mechi Zone to Mahendranagar near the western border in Kanchanpur District, Mahakali Zone. It is the only motor road spanning the country from east to west.
- Guneratne, A. (2002). Many tongues, one people: the making of Tharu identity in Nepal. Ithaca, New York: Cornell University Press.
- Terrenato, L., Shrestha, S., Dixit, K.A., Luzzatto, L., Modiano, G., Morpurgo, G., Arese, P. (1988). "Decreased malaria morbidity in the Tharu and Maithil people compared to sympatric populations in Nepal". Annals of Tropical Medicine and Parasitology 82 (1): 1–11. PMID 3041928.
- Hatlebakk, M. (2007). Economic and social structures that may explain the recent conflicts in the Madhesh of Nepal. Norwegian Embassy, Nepal
- Sharma, R. P. (1974). Nepal: A Detailed Geographical Account. Kathmandu: Pustak-Sansar.
1 Vivaswan Kumar, “Whole Tarai Belongs To Madhesh: Historical Facts,” American Chronicle, March 30, 2009. 2 Vidya Bir Singh Kansakar, "Nepal-India Open Border: Prospects, Problems and Challenges," Institute of Foreign Affairs, Kathmandu, Nepal, 2001. 3 Hari Bansh Jha, Nepal’s Border Relations with India and China, Eurasia Border Review, Vol.4, No.1, Spring 2013. 4 Ibid. 5 Kansakar (2001), op. cit. 6 C. U. Aitchison, A Collection Of Treaties, Engagements And Sanads Relating To India And Neighboring Countries, Vol. 2, Bengal Printing Company Ltd., 1863. 7 Kumar (2009), op. cit. For More information on Madhesh and Madheshis, see latest book (1st Edition)-Madhesh Ko Itihaas By Dr C K Raut.
- Hachhethu, Krishna (2007). "Madheshi Nationalism and Restructuring the Nepali State". seminar "Constitutionalism and Diversity in Nepal", organizd by Centre for Nepal and Asia Studies, Trubhuvan University. Kathmandu, Nepal. Retrieved November 23, 2012.