The Madhesh (Nepali: Madhes) is "the low-lying land of Gangetic plain." The region's name in Urdu is ترای tarāī meaning "lands lying at the foot of a watershed" or "on the banks of a river; low ground flooded with water, valley, basin, marshy ground, marsh, swamp; meadow".
|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 Terai, 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.
Nepal Government has differentiated Terai into "Outer" and "Inner" Terai.
The 2001 national census counted 10.3 million population (45% of the national total) lives in the outer Terai.
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 on another side of Nepalese International Forestry border 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 malaria infested zone 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 have been living in the Terai 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 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 of entire Terai and Bhojpuri consist of population in Eastern and Central Terai. High caste migrants from the hills have purchased, or otherwise got hold of large landholdings. Together with traditional Tharu and Bhojpuri 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 Madhesh include:
|Biratnagar||Morang||166,674||agro-industry, education, trade/transport Hub|
|Birganj||Parsa||112,484||trade/transport hub, agro and other industry|
|Janakpur||Dhanusa||67,192||transport hub, agro-industry, education, health care, pilgrimage site|
Mahendra Highway crosses the 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.
- Geography of Nepal
- Janaki Mandir
- Alliance for Independent Madhesh - in India
- List of regional and ethnicity based parties in Nepal
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- Guneratne 2002, p. 22.
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Chaudhary, Deepak. 2015 (2011). Tarai/Madhedh of Nepal : Anthropological Study. Ratna Pustak Bhandar. nepal.