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Nepal Chitwan

from Kathmandu to Chitwan; highlands to lowlands

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October 3rd Chitwan, Nepal

We had an early drive to Chitwan so we backed an overnight bag and checked the rest of the bags in with the hotel concierge. Having said goodbye to Salvador, we found we were alone in the minibus. The driver (Mr Ram) proved way more chatty now he was on his own with us. The journey this time was not so bad and we arrived at the restaurant at early lunch (though we’d brought our own with us this time and just had a coffee there don’t think they were too impressed, but that was the result of their shoddy service and possible food poisoning last time).
As we got to Mugling we turned left over an impressive gorge instead of right (the road to Pokhara). We followed the Trishuli river down steep canyons and gorges on its way to the lowlands. There were some very impressive waterfalls on the way. Finally we a large town, Bharatpur. This city in southern central Nepal is the fourth largest city in Nepal and the district headquarters of the Chitwan District, as well as a separate metropolitan authority. Bharatpur is one of the fastest-growing cities in Nepal. It lies on the southern bank of the Narayani River and serves as a commercial centre of the Chitwan district and the central region of Nepal. Most of the shopping area lies in the suburbs of Narayangadh, while government offices, hospitals and colleges are situated in other parts of the city. The Narayani River flows north to south in the south of Bharatpur. It is the deepest and one of the largest rivers in Nepal. The Narayani Bridge over this river connects Chitwan District with Nawalpur District of Nepal. Small islands, like Nagarban in Narayani river, in it are popular picnic spots. The Rapti River flows east to southwest in the south of Bharatpur and meets the northern border of the Chitwan National Park. We drove on south through Tikauli Jungle for half an hour and arrived at the much smaller town of Ratnanagar. Here we turned off the main road to drive the last 15 minutes to the large village of Sauraha, on the egde of Chitwan park, and where our hotel, Jungle World resort, was based. http://www.jungleworldresort.com is probably the best resort in Sauraha, is a serene place to spend a weekend awakened by the chirping of birds, with state of art facilities, warm hospitality and luxurious 16 rooms in tharu style, all with bathroom and solar heated showers. A swimming pool with a magnificent mature garden surrounds the complex with rare indigenous trees, shrubs and flowers which attract birds and butterflies. We serve delicious local dishes, freshly made with fresh ingredients in an hygienic clean environment. Our Expert Naturalist takes you to deep forest of Chitwan National Park, where you can see animals in their natural habitat. Jungle World Resort provides the chance to see precious flora and fauna.
On our arrival we were given our agenda for the next few days, with alternatives if we wanted, but it seemed perfect so we agreed it. After dinner, a buffet affair, we were driven for a show in nearby Saurhara (about 3 mins drive, we could have walked!) at 7.45. This was the Tharu show and was excellent. The show demonstrated a number of local dances, many of which revolved around jungle and agricultural activities. The highlight for us were two of their famous Tharu Stick Dances. For variety they ended with someone in a peacock costume with his hand as their head as the head, miming eating seeds from the floor. A little bizarre, but whatever. The show finished at 9pm and we went back for an early night as we were off early the next day to see the wildlife waking up.

The Tharu people are an ethnic group indigenous to the southern foothills of the Himalayas; most of the Tharu people live in the Nepal Terai. The word थारू thāru is thought to be derived from sthavir meaning follower of Theravada buddhism. The origin of the Tharu people is not clear but surrounded by myths and oral tradition. The Rana Tharus claim to be of Rajput origin and have migrated from the Thar Desert to Nepal's Far West Terai region (Rajput from Sanskrit raja-putra, "son of a king") is a large multi-component cluster of castes, kin bodies, local groups, sharing social status/ ideology of genealogical descent originating from the Indian subcontinent. The term covers various patrilineal clans historically associated with warriorhood. The term acquired its present meaning only in the 16th century, although it is also anachronistically used to describe the earlier lineages that emerged in northern India from 6th century onwards). Tharu people farther east claim to be descendants of the "!kya and Koliya peoples living in Kapilvastu (The Shakya (Sanskrit: Śākya) were a clan of late Vedic India (c.1000– c.500 BC) and the later so-called second urbanisation period (c.600–c.200 BC) in the Indian subcontinent nations of India and Nepal. The Shakyas formed an independent oligarchic republican state known as the Śākya Gaṇarājya, with its capital at Kapilavastu, which may have been located in present-day Tilaurakot, Nepal or Piprahwa, India. The best-known Shakya was Siddhartha Gautama, the founder of Buddhism (c. 6th to 4th centuries BC) aka Gautama Buddha. Siddhartha was the son of "uddhodana, the chosen leader of the Śākya Gaṇarājya. The Koliyas/koli were Kshatriya of the Adicca (Iksvaku) clan of the Solar Dynasty, during the time of Gautama Buddha. The family members of these two royal families married only among themselves. Both clans were proud of the purity of their royal blood and had practised this tradition of inter-marriage since ancient times. For example, Suddhodana's paternal aunt was married to the Koliyan ruler Añjana. Their daughters, Mahamaya and Mahapajapati Gotami were married to "uddhodana, the chief of the Sakya. Yashodhara, daughter of Suppabuddha (Añjana’s son), was married to the Sakya prince, Gautama Buddha. In spite of close blood-ties, there would be occasional rifts between the two royal families, which sometimes turned into open hostility. The Sakya and Koliya ruled on opposite banks of the Rohni River as independent republics. Their representatives were called rajas and their chief was the maharaja or ganapati. The Koliya chief settlements were Santhagara, Ramagama and Devadaha (Nawalparasi). Tharu families worked under the system of bonded labour known as Kamaiya which existed in Nepal until the 18th century. Following the Unification of Nepal members of the ruling elite families of Terai received land grants and were entitled to collect revenue from those who cultivated the land. In 1854, Jung Bahadur Rana, the Nepalese PM, enforced the Muluki Ain (General Code) which classified Hindus and Non- Hindus castes based on their habits of food and drink. Tharu people were categorised "Paani Chalne Masinya Matwali" (touchable enslavable alcohol drinking group) together with several other alcohol drinking ethnic minorities. In the late 1950s, the WHO and Nepalese government worked to eradicate malaria in the forests of central Terai using DDT and non-Tharu people settled in the region. In the western Terai, many Tharu families lost the land they used to cultivate, to these immigrants and were forced as Kamaiya. When the first protected areas were established in Chitwan, Tharu communities were forced to relocate from their traditional lands. They were denied a right to own land and forced into a situation of landlessness and poverty. When Chitwan National Park was established, Nepalese soldiers destroyed the villages located inside the boundary of the park, burned down houses, and beat the people who tried to plough their fields. Some threatened Tharu people at gunpoint to leave. The Tharus are now recognised as an official nationality by the Government of Nepal, which made bonded labour illegal in 2000. The Tharu say that they are a people of the forest. In Chitwan, they have lived in the forests for hundreds of years practicing a short fallow shifting cultivation. They plant rice, mustard, corn and lentils, collect forest products such as wild fruits, vegetables, medicinal plants and materials to build their houses; hunt deer, rabbit and wild boar, and go fishing in the rivers and oxbow lakes.
Tharus never went away for employment. In their isolation they developed a unique culture free from the influence of adjacent India or Nepal. The most striking aspects of their environment are the decorated rice containers, colourfully painted verandahs and outer walls of their homes using only available materials like clay, mud, dung and grass. Much of the rich design is rooted in devotional activities and passed from one generation to the next, occasionally introducing contemporary elements such as a bus or an airplane. The Deukheri Tharu are known for their colourful shell and/or feather decorated basketry, including ram topne water jug covers. In the western Terai, most Rana Tharu prefer living in Badaghar (longhouses) with big families of many generations, up to 40-50 people. All members pool their labour, contribute their income, share the expenditure and use one kitchen. Tharus from the mid/ far west of Nepal have been practicing the Badghar system, where a Badghar is elected chief of a village/ small group of villages for a year. The election takes place in Magd (Jan/ Feb), after celebrating the Maghi Festival and completing major farming activities. In most cases, each household has one voting right for electing a Badghar. The role of the Badghar is to work for the welfare of the village; eg to direct the villagers to repair the canals. They manage the cultural traditions of the villages and have the authority to punish those who go against the welfare of the village. Generally the Badghar has a Chaukidar to help him. With the consent of the villagers the Badghar may appoint a "Guruwa” who is the medic and chief priest of the village. As farming is the main activity, irrigation is one of the most important aspects of the community. Tharus in western Nepal built canals that irrigate thousands of hectares of land. Hundreds of years ago, without sophisticated tools, they built hundreds of kilometers of irrigation canals in the Kailali and Bardiya districts of Nepal. An irrigation canal
could be used by several villages. To ensure its water and diversion works were managed fairly, the Badghars of different villages elect a Chaudhary to manage the canal system. Badghars and Chaudhary are exempt from physical labour and as a token of respect, the community members help them in farming for a day free of cost. Tharu communities in different parts of Nepal and India do not share the same language. Several speak various endemic Tharu languages. In western Nepal Tharus speak variants of Hindi, Urdu and Awadhi. In central Nepal, they speak a variant of Bhojpuri. In eastern Nepal, they speak a variant of Maithili. Tharus already lived in the Terai before Indo- Europeans arrived. It is unclear which language they spoke at that time. The only surviving pre-Indo-European languages in Terai are Kusunda (a language isolate; the last fluent speaker .died this year), and Santhali further west (an austro-asiatic language spoken widely across west Nepal/India). Tharu people of Nepal have different and special food items like Bagiya/ Dhikri and ghonghi, an edible snail collected in nearby water bodies. Dhikri is made of rice flour. The dough from the rice flour is given different shapes of birds, fish and animals. It is cooked over steam and eaten with chutney or curry. The ghonghi are left overnight so that all the gooey material inside them comes out. Their tail end is cut so that it is easier to suck out the meat from the shell. They are boiled and later cooked like curry adding spices like coriander, chili, garlic and onions.
Terai Plains The lowland region of south Nepal/ north India lies south of the outer Himalaya foothills and is characterised by tall grasslands, scrub savannah, sal forests and clay rich swamps. In Nepal, the Terai stretches over 33,998.8 km2, about 23.1% of Nepal's land area, at an altitude of 67-300 m. The region comprises more than 50 wetlands. North of the Terai is the Bhabhar, a narrow continuous belt of forest 8–12 km wide. The Terai is crossed by the large perennial Himalayan rivers Yamuna, Ganges, Sarda, Karnali, Narayani and Kosi that have built up alluvial fans covering thousands of km below 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 alluvium is renewed every year by fresh deposits brought by the streams. Large numbers of small seasonal rivers flow through the Terai, most of which originate in the Siwalik Hills. Terai soil is alluvial and fine/medium textured. Deforestation and increased cultivation has led to a sinking water table. The Makwanpur Kingdom controlled the central Terai region of Nepal. When Prithvi Narayan Shah engaged in his campaign to control all Nepal, deep unrest spread in the Sen Kingdoms of the Kirat region. Makwanpur, which had broken away from the Kirat Kingdom of Viyayapur, was being ruled by King Manik Sen, who was succeeded by his son, Hemkarna Sen. Soon after Shah attacked and conquered the area, bringing it into his kingdom.

Posted by PetersF 12:00 Archived in Nepal Tagged nepal chitwan tharu

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