Madhesh

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Coordinates: 26°57′05″N 85°02′52″E / 26.9515°N 85.0479°E / 26.9515; 85.0479

Rice fields in Madhesh region of Nepal , Biratnagar

The Madhesh (Nepali: मधेस) is a region located in southern plains of Nepal.[1] [2] People who live in this region, are known as Madhesi peoples.[3] The region's name in Urdu as referred by Nepali Muslims 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".[4] The region was historically separate from Nepal until 1860 when the British Raj rewarded it to Nepal.[5]

Climate[edit]

Biratnagar, 26°N, 87°E
Climate chart (explanation)
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Average max. and min. temperatures in °C
Precipitation totals in mm
Source: Levoyageur
Janakpur, 31°N, 77°E
Climate chart (explanation)
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Average max. and min. temperatures in °C
Precipitation totals in mm
Source: World Weather Information Service

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.

Region[edit]

Nepal Government has differentiated Terai into "Outer" and "Inner" Terai.

The 2011 national census counted 1.53 million population (51% of the national total) lives in the outer Terai. [Citation needed - 1.53 million = 51% of Nepal's total population?]

History[edit]

Eastern Madhesh including Janakpur was part of the Videha Kingdom.[6]

The "Madhesh" is a morphological derivative of Madhyadesh (Sanskrit) or Majjhimadesh (Pali) and means the Middle Country signifying its location in the middle of the Indian Subcontinent.Terai (also written as Tarai) is presumed to be derived from Persian, meaning “damp”, and denotes the land at the foothills of mountains, often damp and swampy.

Madhesh and Terai, both have been in use indiscriminately and synonymously in general context, in present day Nepal, however, the former includes the connotation of identity and culture of people living in the region, whereas the latter refers to geographical feature or terrain characteristics of the region.

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. But after decline of Buddhism, the area was largely abandoned, and quickly re-vegetated with shrubs and trees,although the Sal forest should have taken centuries to return.[7]

The region was not a part of Nepal until 1860 where it was rewarded to Nepal by the British Raj due to the Kings support for the British during the Indian rebellion of 1857.[5] It was historically separate from the rest of Nepal.[8]

Inner Terai valleys historically were agriculturally productive but endemic to malarial. Some parts were left forested by official decree during the Rana dynasty as a defensive perimeter .The British believed that plainsmen and paharis generally die if they sleep in the malaria infested zone before November 1 or after June 1.[9] British travelers to Kathmandu went as fast as possible from the border at Raxaul in order to reach the hills before nightfall.[7]

A malaria eradication campaign by Nepal Government in the 1950s using DDT made the Inner Terai habitable for the first time.

Ethnic groups[edit]

Main article: Madhesi people

Madhesi people are the first inhabitas of Terai, what is nowadays called as Madhesh in Nepal. Madhesi have been living in the Terai for many centuries, and reputedly have innate resistance to malaria. Following the malaria eradication program using DDT in the 1960s, a large and heterogeneous non-Madhesi population settled in the region.[10] Their proposed state/homeland is called Madhesh.

Pahari farmers from the mid-hills moved to the plains in search of arable land including Brahmin, Chhetri and Newar. Madhesi constitute the traditional population of entire Terai. High caste migrants from the hills have purchased, or otherwise got hold of large landholdings. Together with traditional Tharu and Maithili 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.[11]

Economy[edit]

The Terai is the most productive region in Nepal with the majority of the country's industries. Agriculture is the basis of the economy.[12] 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:

Municipality District Census 2015 Economy
Biratnagar Morang 266,674 agro-industry, education, trade/transport Hub
Birganj Parsa 192,484 trade/transport hub, agro and other industry
Janakpur Dhanusa 97,192 transport hub, agro-industry, education, health care, pilgrimage site
For a more comprehensive list, see List of cities in Nepal.

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.

Cuisine[edit]

The staple diet of the region is rice, dal (lentils soup) and curry. On festive occasions, people prepare a number of fried items of vegetables as well as many specialities. Fish is also popular in Terai/Madhes.

Tourism[edit]

  • Janakpur - The birthplace of Sita, wife of Rama in the Ramayana. Janakpur is a Hindu pilgrimage site. It was the capital of King Janak and is the birthplace of Sita. The ideal time to visit the city is on the occasion of Hindu festival of Vivah Panchami around November–December.
  • Lumbini- The birthplace of Lord Buddha is a holy pilgrimage of Buddhist and also for Hindus. Every year millions of tourists come to visit this site all around the world.
  • Salahesh Garden- The garden of King Salahesh is located in Siraha district of Nepal near Lahan. The main interesting thing of garden is flower that bear only one time in a year at that time a great festival occurs here.
  • Chhinnamasta Temple
  • Kankalini Temple
  • Gadhi Mai Temple
  • Chitwan National Park - Chitwan national park, with its 932 sq km of reserve area, is home to one-horned Indian rhino, tigers, leopards and rare Gangetic dolphins. One can enjoy elephant safari in the park.
  • Koshi Tappu Wildlife Reserve - The reserve, composed of grassland and several small islands around Koshi river, is home to thousands of species of birds. One can also enjoy watching fresh water Dolphins, wild buffalos called Arna, deer, wild boars, pythons and crocodiles.
  • Royal Bardia National Park - This 968 sq km of reserve accommodates Bengal tiger, one-horned rhinos, grey langurs, rhesus macaques, leopards, civets, hyenas, and sloth bears. It is also home to more than 250 species of birds.
  • Other Towns - Biratnagar, Rajbiraj, Birgunj, Bharatpur, Bhairahawa, Nepalgunj, Dhangadhi

Notable people from Madhesh[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Madhesh state from Saptari to Parsa results into Crisis". Online Khabar. 14 November 2015. Retrieved 2015-11-16. 
  2. ^ "One Madhesh state from Saptari to Parsa, Madhesis blame India and their Nepalese government". 
  3. ^ Turner, R.L. (1931). "A Comparative and Etymological Dictionary of the Nepali Language". K. Paul, Trench, Trubner, London. p. 491. 
  4. ^ Platts, J. T. (1884). "A dictionary of Urdu, and English.". W. H. Allen & Co., London. 
  5. ^ a b https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=Ty6IAgAAQBAJ&pg=PA9&dq=Terai+1860&hl=en&sa=X&redir_esc=y
  6. ^ http://shodhganga.inflibnet.ac.in/bitstream/10603/18417/12/12_chapter%204.pdf
  7. ^ a b Guneratne, A. (2002). Many tongues, one people: the making of Tharu identity in Nepal. Ithaca, New York: Cornell University Press. 
  8. ^ https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=OPEcHLvf33YC&pg=PA16&dq=Terai+separate+from+nepal&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjB4dDwpc_JAhWENxQKHUvjB_oQ6AEIGzAA#v=onepage&q=Terai%20separate%20from%20nepal&f=false
  9. ^ Guneratne 2002, p. 22.
  10. ^ 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. 
  11. ^ Hatlebakk, M. (2007). Economic and social structures that may explain the recent conflicts in the Madhesh of Nepal. Norwegian Embassy, Nepal
  12. ^ Sharma, R. P. (1974). Nepal: A Detailed Geographical Account. Kathmandu: Pustak-Sansar. 

External links[edit]

Chaudhary, Deepak. 2015 (2011). Tarai/Madhedh of Nepal : Anthropological Study. Ratna Pustak Bhandar. nepal.