Mahendra Highway

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Mahendra Highway
महेन्द्र राजमार्ग
Route information
Part of AH2
Length: 1,024 km (636 mi)
Major junctions
From: Kankarbhitta/Mechinagar
  Tribhuvan Highway at Hetauda
Prithvi Highway at Bharatpur
Siddhatha Highway at Butwal
To: Bhim Datta
Location
Primary
destinations:
Itahari, Hetauda, Bharatpur, Butwal, Kohalpur
Highway system
Roads in Nepal

Mahendra Highway (Nepali: महेन्द्र राजमार्ग) also called East West Highway (Nepali: पुर्ब पश्चिम राजमार्ग) runs across the Terai region of Nepal, from Mechinagar in the east to Bhim Datta in the west, cutting across the entire width of the country. It is the longest highway in Nepal constructed by CPWD/PWD India engineers and lot of workers.[1]

Overview[edit]

Mostly single lane in each direction it scarcely qualifies as a highway as per western understanding. Nevertheless, it is a major infrastructure element because east-west travel previously was on foot, by expensive and limited scheduled flights, or had to utilize Indian trains and buses. The highway crosses the Terai from east to west for 1,000 kilometres (620 mi).[2]

The major destinations along and around the highway are Mechinagar, Bhadrapur, Itahari, Janakpur, Bharatpur, Butwal, Siddharthanagar, Nepalganj, and Bhim Dutta.[3] Other towns on Mahendra Highway are - Birtamod, Damak, Inaruwa, Lahan, Bardibas, and Chisapani

South of the highway are five official border crossing points between India and Nepal.[2]

Even basic infrastructure in Nepal remains perilously neglected despite the very few "highways" that exist, the busiest highways, including Prithivi Highway, all suffer from similar problems.

Route (East to West)[edit]

Mechinagar (Kankarbhitta) to Hetauda[edit]

Mechinagar, in south-eastern Nepal, is on the Nepal-India border. The wide Mechi River, a tributary of the Mahananda River, forms the border.[4] On the Indian side the road continues through Bagdogra and Siliguri.[2]

From Mechinagar the highway runs relatively smoothly for 108 kilometres (67 mi) to Itahari. 20 kilometres (12 mi) west of Mechinagar, are the junctions for routes to Ilam at Charali and for Bhadrapur at Birtamod. It crosses innumerable streams on the way – Khadam Nadi, 10 kilometres (6.2 mi) east of Itahari, Ratua Nadi near Damak.[2] Itahari is the road junction, with Biratnagar, on the Nepal-India border, to the south and Dharan and Dhankuta to the north.[2]

The Koshi Barrage is 47 kilometres (29 mi) from Itahari. The Mahendra Highway passes over the Kosi Barrage between Bhadaha and Bhantabari.[4]Koshi Tappu Wildlife Reserve is easily accessible from the Mahendra Highway. The reserve office is at Kusaha 3 kilometres (1.9 mi) off the highway.[4]

The Mahendra Highway continues its westward course through the Terai landscape. It crosses the Balan Nadi 43 kilometres (27 mi) before Janakpur junction and another 14 kilometres (8.7 mi) later the Kamla Nadi.[4]

Janakpur, a town with more than a hundred temples is 169 kilometres (105 mi) from Biratnagar and.106 kilometres (66 mi) from Birganj.[2] Janakpur lies 25 kilometres (16 mi) south of the Mahendra Highway. Hindu mythology identifies Janakpur as the capital of the ancient kingdom of Mithila.[4]

At Pathlaiya, Mahendra Highway reaches Tribhuvan Highway between the Indian border at Raxaul/Birganj 30 km to the south. Kathmandu is 253 kilometres (157 mi) (by highway) north of this junction. The two highways join to cross the Siwalik Range to Hetauda in Chitwan Valley. At Hetauda’s Mahendra Chok the two highways diverge and Mahendra Highway heads west.

Hetauda to Bhim Datta[edit]

Bharatpur is the much used junction for the highway to Mugling on the Prithvi Highway. It is also the end point of many rafting trips on the Trishuli River, after it joins the Narayani River at Devghat,. The Mahendra Highway runs north of Chitwan National Park .[2]

Butwal is the junction of the Mahendra Highway with the Siddhartha Highway, with Lumbini, birthplace of Gautama Buddha, Sunauli, on the Nepal-India border, and Siddharthanagar to the south and Tansen and Pokhara to the north. Butwal is on the west bank of Tilottama River in the shadow of the Churia Hills.[2]

West of Butwal the highway turns north to cross the Dudhwa Hills (350m ascent) into Inner-Terai Deukhuri Valley, then crosses the West Rapti River, which is no relation to the East Rapti River of Chitwan. Just beyond the river (291 km from Hetauda) the highway reaches Bhalubang where a spur road continues north into Pyuthan and Rolpa districts. Mahendra Highway heads west again, following the Rapti downstream through Deukhuri. 27 km west of Bhalubang at Lamahi a spur road goes north to Dang Valley, Dang Airport, Tulsipur town. 35 km beyond Lamahi, Rapti Highway departs north for Salyan and Rukum districts.

Kohalpur 428 km west of Hetauda is the junction for a highway south 13 kilometres (8.1 mi) to Nepalganj and the border with India and north to Birendranagar in Surkhet. Then the highway passes the Kusum-Ilaka forest, which is being eyed as a potential extension area of Bardia National Park, which lies to the north-west of Nepalganj, on the Nepal-India border.[4]

Crossing the Karnali River at Chisapani, the highway continues west to the Indian border at Bhim Datta on the Mahakali River, crossing on a barrage. The section between Chisapani and Bhim Datta is in poor repair. There is a 4 kilometres (2.5 mi) extension to Banbasa, the first town in Uttarakhand, India. Buses connect Banbasa to Bareilly (the nearest BG rail station 2 hr 30 mins), Almora (6 hr), Nainital (7 hr), Haridwar (9 hr) and Delhi (10 hr) .[4]

Major Junctions[edit]

Major junctions of Mahendra Highway are - [2]

  • Itahari – with Biratnagar to the south and Dharan and Dhankuta to the north.
  • Hetauda – junction with the Tribhuvan Highway with Birganj in the south and Kathmandu and Prithvi Highway to the north.
  • Bharatpur – link to Mugling on the Prithvi Highway
  • Butwal – junction of Siddhatha Highway (with Sunauli and Lumbini to the south and Tansen and Pokhra to the north

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Highways in Nepal". Adarsha Nepal Adventure. Retrieved 2010-05-18. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i Woodhatch, Tom. Nepal handbook. Western Nepal p. 29, Junctions p. 44, Length p. 238, Overview p. 373, Nepalganj p. 394 -398, Terai east of Sapt Kosi p. 401, Janakpur p. 436, Eastern Nepal p. 450, (Google books). Retrieved 2010-05-18. 
  3. ^ "Highways in Nepal". Adarsha Nepal Adventure. Retrieved 2010-05-18. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f g David Reed, James McConnachie. The rough guide to Nepal. Nepalganj p. 361, Mahendranagar p. 374, Janakpur p. 388, Kankarbhitta p. 400, Itahar p. 442 (Google book). Retrieved 2010-05-18.