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The Terai
Terai
(Hindi: तराई Nepali: तराइ) is a lowland region in southern Nepal
Nepal
and northern India
India
that lies south of the outer foothills of the Himalayas, the Siwalik Hills, and north of the Indo-Gangetic Plain. This lowland belt is characterised by tall grasslands, scrub savannah, sal forests and clay rich swamps. In northern India, the Terai
Terai
spreads from the Yamuna River
Yamuna River
eastward across Himachal Pradesh, Haryana, Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh
Uttar Pradesh
and Bihar. The Terai
Terai
is part the Terai-Duar savanna and grasslands ecoregion. The corresponding lowland region in West Bengal, Bangladesh, Bhutan
Bhutan
and Assam
Assam
in the Brahmaputra River
Brahmaputra River
basin is called 'Dooars'.[1] In Nepal, the Terai
Terai
stretches over 33,998.8 km2 (13,127.0 sq mi), about 23.1% of Nepal's land area, and lies at an altitude of between 67 and 300 m (220 and 984 ft). The region comprises more than 50 wetlands. North of the Terai
Terai
rises the Bhabhar, a narrow but continuous belt of forest about 8–12 km (5.0–7.5 mi) wide.[2]

Contents

1 Etymology 2 Geology 3 Climate 4 Geography

4.1 Inner Terai 4.2 Outer Terai 4.3 Protected areas

5 Ethnic groups 6 History 7 Politics 8 Border disputes 9 Indian influence in Nepal
Nepal
Terai 10 Humanitarian works 11 Economy

11.1 Economy in Indian Terai 11.2 Economy in Nepal
Nepal
Terai

11.2.1 Transport

11.3 Tourism

12 References

12.1 Bibliography

13 Further reading 14 External links

Etymology[edit] In Hindi
Hindi
the region is called तराई, 'tarāī' meaning "foot-hill".[3] In Nepali, the region is called तराइ 'tarāi' meaning "the low-lying land, plain" and especially "the low-lying land at the foot of the Himālayas".[4] The region's name in Urdu
Urdu
is ترائي‬ 'tarāʼī' 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".[5] Geology[edit] The Terai
Terai
is crossed by the large perennial Himalayan rivers Yamuna, Ganges, Sarda, Karnali, Narayani and Kosi that have each built alluvial fans covering thousands of square kilometres below their exits from the hills. Medium rivers such as the Rapti rise in the Mahabharat Range. The geological structure of the region consists of old and new alluvium, both of which constitute alluvial deposits of mainly sand, clay, silt, gravels and coarse fragments. The new alluvium is renewed every year by fresh deposits brought down by active streams, which engage themselves in fluvial action. Old alluvium is found rather away from river courses, especially on uplands of the plain where silting is a rare phenomenon.[6] A large number of small and usually seasonal rivers flow through the Terai, most of which originate in the Siwalik Hills. The soil in the Terai
Terai
is alluvial and fine to medium textured. Forest
Forest
cover in the Terai
Terai
and hill areas has decreased at an annual rate of 1.3% between 1978 and 1979, and 2.3% between 1990 and 1991.[2] With deforestation and cultivation increasing, a permeable mixture of gravel, boulders and sand evolves, which leads to a sinking water table. But where layers consist of clay and fine sediments, the groundwater rises to the surface and heavy sediment is washed out, thus enabling frequent and massive floods during monsoon, such as the 2008 Bihar
Bihar
flood.[7] The reduction in slope as rivers exit the hills and then transition from the sloping Bhabhar to the nearly level Terai
Terai
causes current to slow and the heavy sediment load to fall out of suspension. This deposition process creates multiple channels with shallow beds, enabling massive floods as monsoon-swollen rivers overflow their low banks and shift channels. Many areas show erosion such as gullies.[citation needed] Climate[edit]

Biratnagar, 26°N, 87°E

Climate chart (explanation)

J F M A M J J A S O N D

    9     23 9

    13     26 11

    19     32 14

    53     34 20

    170     33 23

    341     33 25

    559     32 26

    359     33 26

    311     32 24

    89     31 22

    12     28 14

    6     25 10

Average max. and min. temperatures in °C

Precipitation totals in mm

Source: Levoyageur

Imperial conversion

J F M A M J J A S O N D

    0.4     73 48

    0.5     79 52

    0.7     90 57

    2.1     93 68

    6.7     91 73

    13     91 77

    22     90 79

    14     91 79

    12     90 75

    3.5     88 72

    0.5     82 57

    0.2     77 50

Average max. and min. temperatures in °F

Precipitation totals in inches

Chandigarh, 30°N, 77°E

Climate chart (explanation)

J F M A M J J A S O N D

    33     20 6

    39     23 8

    30     28 13

    9     35 19

    28     38 23

    145     39 25

    280     34 24

    308     33 23

    133     33 22

    22     32 17

    9     27 11

    22     22 7

Average max. and min. temperatures in °C

Precipitation totals in mm

Source: World Weather Information Service

Imperial conversion

J F M A M J J A S O N D

    1.3     69 43

    1.5     74 47

    1.2     83 56

    0.4     94 66

    1.1     101 74

    5.7     101 78

    11     93 75

    12     91 74

    5.2     92 71

    0.9     89 63

    0.4     81 51

    0.9     72 44

Average max. and min. temperatures in °F

Precipitation totals in inches

There are several differences between the climate on the western edge of the Terai
Terai
at Chandigarh
Chandigarh
in India
India
and at Biratnagar
Biratnagar
in Nepal
Nepal
near the eastern edge.

Moving inland and away from monsoon sources in the Bay of Bengal, the climate becomes more continental with a greater difference between summer and winter. In the far western Terai, which is five degrees latitude further north, the coldest months' average is 3 °C (37 °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.

Geography[edit] In India, the Terai
Terai
extends over the states of Himachal Pradesh, Haryana, Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar
Bihar
and West Bengal. These are mostly the districts of these states that are on the Indo-Nepal border:[1]

Haryana: Panchkula district Uttarakhand: Haridwar district,[8] Udham Singh Nagar and Nainital districts[9] Uttar Pradesh: Pilibhit district, Lakhimpur Kheri district, Bahraich district, Shravasti district, Balrampur district, Siddharthnagar district, Maharajganj district[10] Bihar: West Champaran district, East Champaran district, Sitamarhi district, Madhubani district, Supaul district, Araria district, Kishanganj district West Bengal: Siliguri subdivision
Siliguri subdivision
of Darjeeling district[11]

The light green and yellow areas indicate the Terai
Terai
in Nepal

The Terai
Terai
in Nepal
Nepal
is differentiated into "Inner" and "Outer" Terai and includes 20 districts.[citation needed] Inner Terai[edit] The Inner Terai
Terai
consists of five elongated valleys located between the Mahabharat and Shivalik ranges.[12] From north-west to south-east these valleys are:

Surkhet Valley
Surkhet Valley
(Nepali: सुर्खेत) in the Surkhet district, north of the Kailali and Bardiya districts;[13] Dang Valley
Dang Valley
(Nepali: दाङ) in the Dang Deokhuri district;[13] Deukhuri Valley
Deukhuri Valley
(Nepali: देउखुरी) located south of the Dang Valley;[13] Chitwan Valley
Chitwan Valley
(Nepali: चितवन) stretching across the Chitwan and Makwanpur districts;[13] Kamala Valley, also called Udayapur Valley (Nepali: उदयपुर), in the Udayapur district
Udayapur district
north of the Siraha
Siraha
and Saptari
Saptari
districts.[13][14]

Most of these valleys are 5–10 km (3.1–6.2 mi) wide (north-south) and up to 100 km (62 mi) long (east-west).[citation needed] Outer Terai[edit] The Outer Terai
Terai
begins south of the Siwalik Hills
Siwalik Hills
and extends to the Indo-Gangetic plain. In the Far-Western Region, Nepal
Nepal
it comprises the Kanchanpur and Kailali districts, and in the Mid-Western Region, Nepal Bardiya and Banke districts. Farther east, the Outer Terai
Terai
comprises the Kapilvastu, Rupandehi, Nawalparasi, Parsa, Bara, Rautahat, Sarlahi, Mahottari, Dhanusa, Siraha, Saptari, Sunsari, Morang
Morang
and Jhapa
Jhapa
districts.[13] East of Banke the Nepalese Outer Terai
Terai
is interrupted where the international border swings north and follows the edge of the Siwaliks adjacent to Deukhuri Valley. Here the Outer Terai
Terai
is entirely in Uttar Pradesh's Shravasti and Balrampur districts. East of Deukhuri the international border extends south again and Nepal
Nepal
has three more Outer Terai
Terai
districts.[citation needed] Protected areas[edit] Several protected areas were established in the Terai
Terai
since the late 1950s:

Sonaripur Wildlife Sanctuary, now Dudhwa National Park
Dudhwa National Park
in 1958[15] Kishanpur Wildlife Sanctuary
Kishanpur Wildlife Sanctuary
in 1972[16] Chitwan National Park
Chitwan National Park
in 1973[2] Katarniaghat Wildlife Sanctuary
Katarniaghat Wildlife Sanctuary
in 1975[15] Shuklaphanta Wildlife Reserve
Shuklaphanta Wildlife Reserve
in 1976[2] Koshi Tappu Wildlife Reserve
Koshi Tappu Wildlife Reserve
in 1976[2] Udaypur Wildlife Sanctuary in 1978[17] Rajaji National Park
Rajaji National Park
in 1983[16] Parsa National Park in 1984[2] Bardia National Park
Bardia National Park
in 1988[2] Valmiki National Park
Valmiki National Park
in 1989[18] Jhilmil Jheel Conservation Reserve in 2005[8] Banke National Park
Banke National Park
in 2010[19]

Ethnic groups[edit] Tharu and Dhimal people are the indigenous inhabitants of the Terai forests.[20] Several Tharu subgroups are scattered over most of the Nepal
Nepal
and Indian Terai.[10][21][22] They used to be semi-nomadic, practised shifting cultivation and collected wild fruits, vegetables and medicinal herbs.[23] They have been living in the Terai
Terai
for many centuries and reputedly had an innate resistance to malaria.[24] Dhimal reside in the eastern Nepal
Nepal
Terai, viz Sunsari, Morang
Morang
and Jhapa
Jhapa
districts. In the past, they lived in the fringes of the forest and conducted a semi-nomadic life to evade outbreaks of diseases. Today, they are subsistence farmers.[20] The Bhoksa people are indigenous to the western Terai
Terai
in the Indian Kumaon division.[9] Maithils
Maithils
inhabit the Indian Terai
Terai
in Bihar
Bihar
and the eastern Terai
Terai
in Nepal. Bhojpuris reside in the central and eastern Terai, and Awadhis live in the central and western Terai. Bantawa people reside foremost in two districts of the eastern Terai
Terai
in Nepal.[25] Following the malaria eradication program using DDT
DDT
in the 1960s, a large and heterogeneous non-Tharu population settled in the Nepal Terai.[24] Pahari people
Pahari people
from the mid-hills including Bahun, Chhetri and Newar
Newar
moved to the plains in search of arable land. In the rural parts of the Nepal
Nepal
Terai, distribution and value of land determine economic hierarchy to a large extent. High caste migrants from the hills and traditional Tharu landlords who own agriculturally productive land constitute the upper level of the economic hierarchy. The poor are the landless or near landless Terai
Terai
Dalits, including the Musahar, Chamar
Chamar
and Mallah.[26] Several Chepang people
Chepang people
also live in Nepal's central and eastern Terai
Terai
districts.[27][28] As of June 2011, the human population in the Nepal
Nepal
Terai
Terai
totalled 13,318,705 people in 2,527,558 households comprising more than 120 different ethnic groups and castes such as Badi, Chamling, Ghale, Kumal, Limbu, Magar, Muslim, Rajbanshi, Teli, Thakuri, Yadav
Yadav
and Majhi speaking people.[29] History[edit]

Jungle
Jungle
in Uttarakhand

The Muslim
Muslim
invasion of northern India
India
during the 14th century caused Hindu and Buddhist people to seek refuge from religious persecution. Rajput
Rajput
nobles and their entourage migrated to the Himalayan foothills and gained control over the region from Kashmir
Kashmir
to the eastern Terai during the next three centuries.[30] Until the mid 18th century, the Nepal
Nepal
Terai
Terai
was divided into several smaller kingdoms, and the forests were little disturbed.[31] The Kingdom of Chaudandi
Chaudandi
ruled by scion of Palpa Kingdom controlled the Terai
Terai
districts of Saptari, Siraha, Dhanusa, Mahottari
Mahottari
and Sarlahi.[32] The Makwanpur Kingdom controlled the central Terai
Terai
region of present-day Nepal.[32] The Bijayapur Kingdom ruled Sunsari, Morang and Jhapa
Jhapa
districts.[33] The Tulsipur State
Tulsipur State
in the Dang Valley
Dang Valley
of Nepal's western Terai
Terai
was also an independent kingdom, until it was conquered in 1785 by Bahadur Shah of Nepal
Nepal
during the unification of Nepal.[34] The Shah rulers also conquered land in the eastern Terai that belonged to the Kingdom of Sikkim.[35] Since the late 18th century, they encouraged Indian people to settle in the Terai
Terai
and supported famine-stricken Bihari farmers to convert and cultivate land in the eastern Nepal
Nepal
Terai.[36] From at least 1786 onwards, the Shah rulers appointed government officers in the eastern Terai
Terai
districts of Parsa, Bara, Rautahat, Mahottari, Saptari
Saptari
and Morang
Morang
to levy taxes, collect revenues, and capture elephants and rhinos.[37][38] The far-western and mid-western regions of the Nepal
Nepal
Terai
Terai
called 'Naya Muluk' (new country) lay on the northern periphery of the Awadh dynasty. After Nepal
Nepal
lost the Anglo–Nepalese War
Anglo–Nepalese War
in 1816, the British annexed these regions in the Terai
Terai
when the Sugauli Treaty
Sugauli Treaty
was ratified. But as reward for Nepal's military aid in the Indian Rebellion of 1857, they returned some of this region in 1860, namely today's districts Kanchanpur, Kailali, Banke and Bardiya.[13] Dacoit
Dacoit
gangs retreated to the Terai
Terai
jungles, and the area was considered lawless and primitive by the British, who sought control of the region's valuable timber reserves.[39] Indian immigration increased between 1846 and 1950.[36] Immigrants settled in the eastern Nepal
Nepal
Terai
Terai
together with native Terai peoples.[13] The Indian Terai
Terai
remained largely uninhabited until the end of the 19th century, as it was arduous and dangerous to penetrate the dense and marshy malarial jungle.[40] The region was densely forested with stands of foremost Sal.[13] Heavy logging began in the 1920s. Extracted timber was exported to India
India
to collect revenues. Cleared areas were subsequently used for agriculture.[31] But still, the Terai
Terai
jungles were teaming with wildlife.[41] Inner Terai
Terai
valleys historically were agriculturally productive but extremely malarial. Some parts were left forested by official decree during the Rana dynasty
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
Terai
before November 1 or after June 1." British travelers to Kathmandu went as fast as possible from the border at Raxaul
Raxaul
to reach the hills before nightfall.[13] Malaria
Malaria
was eradicated using DDT
DDT
in the mid-1950s. Subsequently, people from the hills migrated to the Terai.[42] About 16,000 Tibetan refugees settled in the Nepal
Nepal
Terai
Terai
in 1959–1960, followed by refugees of Nepali origin from Burma
Burma
in 1964, from Nagaland
Nagaland
and Mizoram
Mizoram
in the late 1960s, and about 10,000 Bihari Muslims from Bangladesh
Bangladesh
in the 1970s.[43] Timber export continued until 1969. In 1970, the king granted land to loyal ex-army personnel in the districts of Jhapa, Sunsari, Rupandehi and Banke, where seven colonies were developed for resettling about 7,000 people. They acquired property rights over uncultivated forest and 'waste' land, thus accelerating the deforestation process in the Terai.[42] Between 1961 and 1991, the annual population growth in the Terai
Terai
was higher than the national average, which indicates that migration from abroad occurred at a large scale. Deforestation continued, and forest products from state-owned forest were partly smuggled to India. Community forestry
Community forestry
was introduced in 1995.[44] Since the 1990s, migration from the Terai
Terai
to urban centres is increasing and causing sociocultural changes in the region.[45] Politics[edit] The Janatantrik Terai Mukti Morcha is a separatist organisation founded in 2004 by Jay Krishna Goit with the aim of gaining independence for the Terai
Terai
(Madhesh) region from Nepal.[46] Organisation members have been responsible for various acts of terrorism including bombings and murders.[47] Other armed outfits have appeared that also demand secession through violent means including the " Terai
Terai
Army", " Madhesh
Madhesh
Mukti Tigers" and the "Tharuwan National Liberation Front".[citation needed] There is also movement that is demanding the secession of the region from Republic of Nepal
Nepal
led by CK Raut called the Alliance for Independent Madhesh, a group of activists, parties and organisations.[48][49] Border disputes[edit] The most significant border dispute of the Indo- Nepal
Nepal
boundary in the Terai
Terai
region is the Susta area.[50][51] In the Susta region, 14,500 hectares of land is generally dominated by Indian side with support of Seema Shashatra Bal (SSB) forces.[50] Indian influence in Nepal
Nepal
Terai[edit] After the Nepalese Constituent Assembly election, 2008, Indian politicians kept on trying to secure strategic interests in the Nepal Terai, such as over hydropower energy, development projects, business and trade.[52] The government of Nepal
Nepal
has accused India
India
of imposing an undeclared blockade in 2015.[53] India
India
has denied the allegations, stating the supply shortages have been imposed by Madheshi
Madheshi
protesters within Nepal, and that India
India
has no role in it.[54] Humanitarian works[edit] Dhurmus Suntali Foundation handed over an integrated community containing 50 houses to Musahar community of Bardibas
Bardibas
at a cost of Rs. 63 million.[55] Economy[edit] Economy in Indian Terai[edit] Tea cultivation was introduced in the Darjeeling Terai
Terai
in 1862.[11] Economy in Nepal
Nepal
Terai[edit] The Terai
Terai
is the most productive region in Nepal
Nepal
with the majority of the country's industries. Agriculture is the basis of the economy.[56] Major crops include rice, wheat, pulses, sugarcane, jute, tobacco, and maize. In the eastern districts from Parsa to Jhapa
Jhapa
agro-based industries are supported including: jute factories, sugar mills, rice mills and tobacco factories.[citation needed] The Terai
Terai
is also known for beekeeping and honey production, with about 120,000 colonies of Apis cerana.[57] In the Jhapa
Jhapa
district, tea has been cultivated since 1960; the annual production of 2005 was estimated at 10.1 million kg.[58] Cities with more than 50,000 inhabitants in Nepal's Terai
Terai
include:

Municipality District Census 2001 Economy

Biratnagar Morang 166,674 agro-industry, education, trade and transport hub

Birganj Parsa 112,484 trade and transport hub, agro- and other industries

Dharan[vague] 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[vague] Makwanpur 68,482 transport hub, cement factory, large and small-scale industries

Dhangadhi Kailali 67,447

Janakpur Dhanusa 67,192 transport hub, agro-industry, education, health care, pilgrimage site

Nepalganj Banke 57,535 transport hub, retailing, financial services, health services

Triyuga[vague] Udayapur 55,291 tourism

Siddharthanagar Rupandehi 52,569 trade and transport hub, retailing, tourist and pilgrim services

For a more comprehensive list, see List of cities in Nepal. Transport[edit] The Mahendra Highway
Mahendra Highway
crosses the Nepal
Nepal
Terai
Terai
from Kankarbhitta
Kankarbhitta
on the eastern border in Jhapa
Jhapa
District, Mechi Zone
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. Tourism[edit] Tourist attractions in the Terai
Terai
include:

Har Ki Pauri
Har Ki Pauri
on the banks of the Ganges
Ganges
where the river enters the Terai
Terai
plains Lumbini, birthplace of Lord Buddha
Buddha
(near Siddharthanagar) Bardia National Park
Bardia National Park
(near Nepalganj) Chitwan National Park
Chitwan National Park
(near Bharatpur) Janakpur

References[edit]

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Bibliography[edit]

Pradhan, Kumar L. (2012), Thapa Politics in Nepal: With Special Reference to Bhim Sen Thapa, 1806–1839, New Delhi: Concept Publishing Company, p. 278, ISBN 9788180698132 

Further reading[edit]

Chaudhary, D. 2011. Tarai/ Madhesh
Madhesh
of Nepal : an anthropological study. Ratna Pustak Bhandar, Kathmandu. ISBN 978-99933-878-2-4.

External links[edit]

Wikivoyage has a travel guide for Tarai.

WWF: Map of ecological divisions of Nepal, showing the Terai Terai
Terai
districts of

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