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Dharan Queen of The East, Beautiful town of east Nepal, City of Lahurey

Dharan is one out of two sub-metropolitan cities in Province No. 1 of Nepal, in the Sunsari District, and is situated on the foothills of the Mahabharat Range in the north with its southern tip touching the edge of the Terai region at an altitude of 1148 ft (349m). It serves as a trading post between the hilly region and the plains of Terai region. It was once the location of a recruitment center for the Brigade of Gurkhas, opened in 1953. The recruitment center is closed and the campus is now the home of B.P. Koirala Institute of Health Sciences since 1993.

Dharan sub-metropolitan city organised a Golden Jubilee celebration of Dharan from 28 to 31 January 2011, marking the 50th year of establishment of the municipality. It is the second-largest city of Eastern Nepal. It is also known as the soccer/footballer producing factory of Nepal.

Ancient history

The Ten Kings of Limbus came together to formally declare all the ten kingdoms between the Arun River and Teesta River to be called “Yakthung Laaje”.

The ten rulers, their kingdoms and their forts:

  1. Samlupi Samba Hang, King of Tambar and his capital Tambar Yiok
  2. Sisiyen Shering Hang, King of Mewa and Maiwa kingdoms and his capital Meringden Yiok
  3. Thoktokso Angbo Hang, King of Athraya and his capital Pomajong
  4. Thindolung Khokya Hang, King of Yangwarok and his capital Hastapojong Yiok
  5. Yengaso Papo Hang, King of Panthar and his capital at Yashok and Pheden (Phe meaning “plain”, den meaning “place”)
  6. Shengsengum Phedap Hang, King of Phedap and his capital at Poklabung
  7. Mung Tai Chi Emay Hang, King of Ilam and his capital at Phakphok
  8. Soiyak Ladho Hang Chemjong, King of Bodhey (Choubise) and his capital at Shanguri Yiok
  9. Tappeso Perung Hang, King of Thala and his capital at Thala Yiok
  10. Taklung Khewa Hang, King of Chethar and his capital at Chamling Chimling Yiok 

    Rise of King Mawrong

    After a brief period, King Mawrong Hang came to prominence and took over Terai lands of Chethar, Bodhey, Panthar, and Ilam (present day Jhapa, Morang, Sunsari, and Dhankuta). He named his kingdom Morang after his name and rose to power. He subdued all the Ten Limbu Kings of Limbuwan and became their overlord. He died without any male heir and King Uba Hang took over as supreme ruler of Limbuwan in 849 – 865 AD. He made many religious and social reforms in Limbuwan. Uba Hang’s son Mabo Hang succeeded him in 865 AD and ruled until 880 AD. Uba Hang kept on with the reforms his father had started. Uba Hang was succeeded by his son Muda Hang. Muda Hang was a weak ruler so the local chiefs started ruling their areas independently. Muda Hang was succeeded by his son Wedo Hang but by this time Limbuwan was in chaos and every principality was ruling independently and fighting with each other. Wedo hang was murdered and his son Chemjonghang succeeded him.

    Rise of King Sirijonga

    During this chaos and the waning phase of King Chemjong hang, King Sirijonga of Yangwarok kingdom rose to power. He subdued all the independent rulers and took over as the new supreme ruler of Limbuwan. He built two big forts in Phedap (present day Terhathum district) and Chainpur (present day Sankhuwasabha district). The remains of the structure still stand today. One of his legacies was that he brought all the Limbus under the same writing system in Limbu script. He also brought feudal reform in Limbuwan and divided Limbuwan into new boundaries and districts.

    Eventually after the establishment of Namgyal dynasty in Sikkim and under the Lho-Mehn-Tsong Tsum, a treaty between the Bhutia, Lepcha and Limbu people of the Sikkim area, Limbuwan lost the area between Kunchenjunga range (present day eastern border of Nepal) and Teesta River to the Bhutia Kings of Sikkim. Since then Limbuwan comprises all the area between Arun River and Koshi River in the west to Kunchenjunga Mountains and Mechi River in the east.

    In the beginning of the 15th century, the descendants of King Sirijonga became weak and Limbuwan again fell into chaos and anarchy. At the time Lowland Limbuwan Kingdom of Morang was ruled by King Sangla Ing. Sangla Ing declared independence and became the first independent ruler of Morang in a century. His son Pungla Ing adopted Hinduism and changed his name into Aamar Raya Ing. He was succeeded by his descendents, who also bore Hindu names. Kirti Narayan Raya Ing, Aap Narayan Raya Ing, Jarai Narayan Raya Ing, Ding Narayan Raya Ing, and Bijay Narayan Raya Ing.

    King Bijay Narayan Raya Sanlga Ing built a new town in the middle of Varatappa and Shangori fort and named it Bijaypur after him. He had no issue and died without an heir.

    Bijaypur town was founded in 1584 AD and is currently located next to Dharan, Sunsari District. Bijaypur town remained the capital of Morang Kingdom and Limbuwan region until the Gorkha Limbuwan War in 1774 AD.

    It was the most powerful and influential of all the Kingdoms in Limbuwan region and was able to establish its hegemony among all the other Limbu rulers. But in 1609 AD Kirant King Lo hang Sen of Sen dynasty captured Morang and ruled it for seven generations.

    King of Phedap Murray Hang was made the chief minister of Morong. He stayed in Bijaypur and the King of Morang made his post hereditary. Murray Hang was given a Hindu name and he became Bidya Chandra Raya . His descendents remained Chief Ministers of Morang until Buddhi Karna Raya Khebang. Buddhi Karna Raya Khebang succeeded the last Sen King of Morang Kama Datta sen and sat in the throne of Bijaypur Palace in 1769 AD.

    Modern era

    Dharan started as a small trading settlement. Over the last few decades, the population of Dharan has increased and diversified to include people from various ethnicities like Limbu, Brahmins, Chhetris, Rai, Gurung, Newar, Sunuwar, and Yakha.

    Modern Dharan’s foundation was laid in 1902 by prime minister Chandra Shamsher. He established a small village at the foot of Bijayapur hillock and named it Chandranagar (now Purano Bajar). The purpose was to supply timber to the East India Company, which in the 1890s had expanded its north eastern territory and was laying railway tracks. The first government official to be appointed in this small village was Subba Ratna Prasad. The settlement grew steadily over the course of time. This growing settlement was named Juddha Nagar (now Naya Bazaar) after Prime minister Juddha Shamsher. It was declared a municipal town in 1960.

    The British Gurkha Recruit Center was established in 1953 and this increased the flow of people and expansion of the town. Recruits from all over Nepal flocked to join the British Gurkhas, thereby drastically altering the face of Dharan. There was a surge in population with recruits bringing their families, and others who came to seek employment and exploit business opportunities. As a result, Dharan emerged as one of the biggest towns in eastern Nepal. It is in a true sense a melting pot of different ethnic groups, languages, dialects and religions.

    In 1962, Nepal was divided into 14 administrative zones and 75 districts, and Dharan was made the zonal headquarters of Kosi Zone.

    Municipal timeline

    • 15 November 1960: Dharan Municipality was founded. Initially, the town was divided into eleven wards,
    • In 1980: two adjoining Gaon Panchayats, Banjjhogara Gaon Panchayat of east and Ghopa Gaon Panchayat of west, were merged with Dharan Town Panchayat. This expansion led to the reformation of the wards.
    • May 8, 2014: Panchakanya village development committee of east, was merged with Dharan Municipality.
    • 2 December 2014: Bishnupaduka village development committee of West, was merged with Dharan and it has upgraded status of a Sub-metropolitan City. 

    Attractions in Dharan and nearby Tourism plays a major part in the Dharan economy. Dharan is a tourist destination in its own right. Communication is mainly in Nepali and English. People who are English speakers should have no problem comprehending many signs and road maps in Nepal. Bagarkot, a place near city is famous for Sekuwa food and other Limbu and Rai cuisines.

    Beyond Bhedetar lies the eastern hilly district such as Dhankuta, Bhojpur, Phidim, Terathum. Dharan serves as a gateway to some of the remote tourist attractions like Kumbhakarna Mountain, Kanchenjunga, Makalu Barun National Park, Arun Valley, Tinjure-Milke-Jaljale (TMJ) area (Rhododendron Protection Area), Gupha Pokhari, Hyatung Falls, and Sabha Pokhari. They are quite further and therefore require extended day trips.

    On the south of Dharan is the city of Biratnagar and connecting towns, all within an hour’s drive. Bhanu Chowk is also known as the heart of Dharan. The mega city Itahari is popular with the local population of Dharan.

    Dharan, with its diverse population, has numerous centers of worship, i.e. temples, churches and a mosque. Bijaypur Hill is of a particular significance, as it has several temples of importance, such as Dantakali Temple, Pindeshwor Temple, Budha Subba Temple and Panchakanya. These temples are of historical and archaeological importance as much as religious. These temples are centers for rituals, fairs and events.


    Langhali Road Dharan

    In recent years the close proximity of the Tamur River has made Dharan a destination for the white water rafting enthusiasts, Which starts from Mulghat of Dhankuta district and finishes in Chataradham.


    Pindeswori Babadam

    Other potential tourism prospects include:

    • Paragliding from surrounding hills and Bhedetar for the dare-devils
    • Development of Panchakanya, a Natural Park into a mini zoo
    • Protection and development of flora and fauna of Chaarkose forest
    • Cable car at Dharan-Bishnupaduka-Barahachhetra
    • Better advertisement of Babadham fair
    • Construction of an airport in Dharan

    Some measures taken by the Submetropolitan of Dharan to promote tourism:

    • Emphasis on the development infrastructures of the city
    • Support development and management of Pindeshwor Babadham fair, Barahachhetra fair and Bishnupaduka fair to promote religious tourism
    • Budha Subba Gold Cup Football Tournaments coordinated by the municipality every year
    • Annual publication of a brochure and city information of Dharan
    • Publication and distribution of postcards and photographs of Dharan and Bhedetar
    • Promote Dharan festivals. E.g. Dharan Mahotsav
    • Dharan clock tower (Ghantaghar)
    • Development of the Saptarangi Park (Park of Seven Colours) and Panchakanya Natural Park
    • Financial and other assistance to the development of a privately run Yalambar Park
    • Thousand Big Buddhas (under construction)

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