The TERAI (
Hindi : तराई Nepali : तराइ) is a lowland
region in southern
Nepal and northwestern
India that lies south of the
outer foothills of the
Himalayas , the
Siwalik Hills , and north of
Indo-Gangetic Plain . This lowland belt is characterised by tall
grasslands , scrub savannah , sal forests and clay rich swamps . In
northern India, the
Terai spreads from the
Yamuna River eastward
Himachal Pradesh ,
Uttar Pradesh and
Bihar . The
Terai is part the Terai-Duar savanna and grasslands
ecoregion . The corresponding lowland region in
West Bengal ,
Assam in the
Brahmaputra River basin is called
Dooars '. In Nepal, the
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 rises the Bhabhar , a narrow but
continuous belt of forest about 8–12 km (5.0–7.5 mi) wide.
* 1 Etymology
* 2 Geology
* 3 Climate
* 4 Geography
* 4.1 Inner
* 4.2 Outer
* 4.3 Protected areas
* 5 Ethnic groups
* 6 History
* 7 Politics
* 8 Border Disputes
* 9 Indian influence in
* 10 Humanitarian Works
* 11 Economy
* 11.1 Economy in Indian
* 11.2 Economy in
* 11.2.1 Transport
* 11.3 Tourism
* 12 References
* 12.1 Bibliography
* 13 Further reading
* 14 External links
Hindi the region is called तराई, 'tarāī' meaning
"foot-hill". 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". The region's name in
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".
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.
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 is alluvial and fine to medium textured.
Forest cover in the
Terai and hill areas has decreased at an annual rate of 1.3% between
1978 and 1979, and 2.3% between 1990 and 1991. 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 flood .
The reduction in slope as rivers exit the hills and then transition
from the sloping Bhabhar to the nearly level
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.
BIRATNAGAR, 26°N, 87°E
CLIMATE CHART (EXPLANATION )
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
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 )
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
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
India and at
the eastern edge.
* Moving inland and away from monsoon sources in the
Bay of Bengal
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.
In India, the
Terai extends over the states of Himachal Pradesh,
Haryana, Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh,
Bihar and West Bengal. These are
mostly the districts of these states that are on the Indo-Nepal
Haridwar district , Udham Singh Nagar and Nainital
* Uttar Pradesh:
Pilibhit district ,
Lakhimpur Kheri district ,
Bahraich district ,
Shravasti district ,
Balrampur district ,
Siddharthnagar district ,
West Champaran district ,
East Champaran district
East Champaran district ,
Sitamarhi district ,
Madhubani district ,
Supaul district , Araria
* West Bengal:
Siliguri subdivision of
The light green and yellow areas indicate the
Nepal is differentiated into "Inner" and "Outer" Terai
and includes 20 districts.
Terai consists of five elongated valleys located between
the Mahabharat and Shivalik ranges. From north-west to south-east
these valleys are:
Surkhet Valley (Nepali : सुर्खेत) in the Surkhet
district , north of the Kailali and Bardiya districts ;
Dang Valley (Nepali : दाङ) in the
Dang Deokhuri district
Dang Deokhuri district ;
Deukhuri Valley (Nepali : देउखुरी) located south of
the Dang Valley;
Chitwan Valley (Nepali : चितवन) stretching across the
Chitwan and Makwanpur districts ;
Kamala Valley , also called Udayapur Valley (Nepali :
उदयपुर), in the
Udayapur district north of the
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).
Terai begins south of the
Siwalik Hills and extends to the
Indo-Gangetic plain . In the Far-Western Region,
Nepal it comprises
the Kanchanpur and Kailali districts, and in the Mid-Western Region,
Nepal Bardiya and Banke districts. Farther east, the Outer Terai
comprises the Kapilvastu , Rupandehi , Nawalparasi , Parsa, Bara ,
Rautahat , Sarlahi, Mahottari, Dhanusa,
East of Banke the Nepalese Outer
Terai is interrupted where the
international border swings north and follows the edge of the Siwaliks
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
Several protected areas were established in the
Terai since the late
* Sonaripur Wildlife Sanctuary, now
Dudhwa National Park
Dudhwa National Park in 1958
Kishanpur Wildlife Sanctuary in 1972
Chitwan National Park
Chitwan National Park in 1973
Katarniaghat Wildlife Sanctuary in 1975
Shuklaphanta Wildlife Reserve in 1976
Koshi Tappu Wildlife Reserve in 1976
Udaypur Wildlife Sanctuary in 1978
Rajaji National Park in 1983
Parsa Wildlife Reserve in 1984
Bardia National Park in 1988
Valmiki National Park in 1989
* Jhilmil Jheel Conservation Reserve in 2005
Banke National Park in 2010
Dhimal people are the indigenous inhabitants of the Terai
forests. Several Tharu subgroups are scattered over most of the Nepal
and Indian Terai. They used to be semi-nomadic, practised shifting
cultivation and collected wild fruits, vegetables and medicinal herbs
. They have been living in the
Terai for many centuries and reputedly
had an innate resistance to malaria .
Dhimal reside in the eastern
Nepal Terai, viz Sunsari,
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
Bhoksa people are indigenous to the western
Terai in the Indian
Kumaon division .
Maithils inhabit the Indian
Bihar and the eastern
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 in Nepal.
Following the malaria eradication program using
DDT in the 1960s, a
large and heterogeneous non-Tharu population settled in the Nepal
Pahari people from the mid-hills including
Newar moved to the plains in search of arable land. In the rural parts
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 Dalits , including the
Mallah . Several
Chepang people also live in Nepal's
central and eastern
As of June 2011, the human population in the
13,318,705 people in 2,527,558 households comprising more than 120
different ethnic groups and castes such as Badi , Chamling ,
Kumal , Limbu , Magar , Majhi ,
Muslim invasion of northern
India during the 14th century caused
Hindu and Buddhist people to seek refuge from religious persecution.
Rajput nobles and their entourage migrated to the Himalayan foothills
and gained control over the region from
Kashmir to the eastern Terai
during the next three centuries.
Until the mid 18th century, the
Terai was divided into several
smaller kingdoms, and the forests were little disturbed. The Kingdom
Chaudandi ruled by scion of Palpa Kingdom controlled the Terai
Sarlahi . The
Makwanpur Kingdom controlled the central
Terai region of present-day
Nepal. The Bijayapur Kingdom ruled
Morang and Jhapa
Tulsipur State in the
Dang Valley of Nepal's western
Terai was also an independent kingdom, until it was conquered in 1785
by Bahadur Shah of
Nepal during the unification of
Nepal . The Shah
rulers also conquered land in the eastern
Terai that belonged to the
Kingdom of Sikkim . Since the late 18th century, they encouraged
Indian people to settle in the
Terai and supported famine-stricken
Bihari farmers to convert and cultivate land in the eastern Terai.
From at least 1786 onwards, the Shah rulers appointed government
officers in the eastern
Terai districts of Parsa , Bara , Rautahat,
Morang to levy taxes, collect revenues, and
capture elephants and rhinos .
The far-western and mid-western regions of the
'Naya Muluk' (new country) lay on the northern periphery of the Awadh
Nepal lost the
Anglo–Nepalese War in 1816, the
British annexed these regions in the
Terai when the
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 .
Dacoit gangs retreated to the
Terai jungles, and the area was
considered lawless and primitive by the British, who sought control of
the region's valuable timber reserves.
Indian immigration increased between 1846 and 1950. Immigrants
settled in the eastern
Terai together with native
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 . The region was densely forested with
stands of foremost Sal .
Heavy logging began in the 1920s. Extracted timber was exported to
India to collect revenues. Cleared areas were subsequently used for
agriculture. But still, the
Terai jungles were teaming with wildlife.
Terai valleys historically were agriculturally productive but
extremely malarial. Some parts were left forested by official decree
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 to reach the hills before nightfall.
Malaria was eradicated using
DDT in the mid-1950s. Subsequently,
people from the hills migrated to the Terai. About 16,000 Tibetan
refugees settled in the
Terai in 1959–1960, followed by
refugees of Nepali origin from
Burma in 1964, from
Mizoram in the late 1960s, and about 10,000 Bihari Muslims from
Bangladesh in the 1970s. Timber export continued until 1969. In 1970,
the king granted land to loyal ex-army personnel in the districts of
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. Between 1961 and 1991, the
annual population growth in the
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
was introduced in 1995. Since the 1990s, migration from the
urban centres is increasing and causing sociocultural changes in the
Janatantrik Terai Mukti Morcha is a separatist organisation
founded in 2004 by Jay Krishna Goit with the aim of gaining
independence for the
Madhesh ) region from Nepal. Organisation
members have been responsible for various acts of
bombings and murders. Other armed outfits have appeared that also
demand secession through violent means including the "
Madhesh Mukti Tigers" and the "Tharuwan National Liberation Front".
There is also movement that is demanding the secession of the region
from Republic of
Nepal led by
CK Raut called the Alliance for
Madhesh , a group of activists, parties and organisations.
The most significant border dispute of the Indo-
Nepal boundary in the
Terai region is the
Susta area. In the
Susta region, 14,500 hectares
of land is generally dominated by Indian side with support of Seema
Shashatra Bal (SSB) forces.
INDIAN INFLUENCE IN NEPAL TERAI
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. The government of
Nepal has accused
India of imposing an
undeclared blockade in 2015 .
India has denied the allegations,
stating the supply shortages have been imposed by
within Nepal, and that
India has no role in it.
Dhurmus Suntali Foundation handed over an integrated community
containing 50 houses to
Musahar community of
Bardibas at a cost of Rs.
ECONOMY IN INDIAN TERAI
Tea cultivation was introduced in the Darjeeling
Terai in 1862.
ECONOMY IN NEPAL TERAI
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
support agro-based industries: jute factories, sugar mills, rice mills
and tobacco factories. The
Terai is also known for beekeeping and
honey production, with about 120,000 colonies of
Apis cerana .
Jhapa district, tea is cultivated since 1960; the annual
production of 2005 was estimated at 10.1 million kg.
Cities with more than 50,000 inhabitants in Nepal's
agro-industry, education, trade and transport hub
trade and transport hub, agro- and other industries
tourism hub and destination, education, financial services
agro-industry and food processing, tourism, health care, education
transport hub, education, health services
transport hub, retailing, agro-industry, health care, education
transport hub, cement factory, large and small-scale industries
transport hub, agro-industry, education, health care, pilgrimage
transport hub, retailing, financial services, health services
trade and transport hub, retailing, tourist and pilgrim services
For a more comprehensive list, see List of cities in
Mahendra Highway crosses the
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.
Buddha statue at
Tourist attractions in the
Har Ki Pauri on the banks of the
Ganges where the river enters the
Lumbini , birthplace of Lord
Buddha (near Siddharthanagar)
Bardia National Park (near Nepalganj)
Chitwan National Park
Chitwan National Park (near Bharatpur)
Janakpur , the birthplace of
Sita , wife of
Rama in the
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* Chaudhary, D. 2011. Tarai/
Nepal : an anthropological
study. Ratna Pustak Bhandar, Kathmandu. ISBN 978-99933-878-2-4 .
Wikivoyage has a travel guide for TARAI .
* WWF: Map of ecological divisions of Nepal, showing the Terai
Terai districts of
Nepal in the past