Motihari is the headquarters of Poorvi Champaran (East Champaran) district in the Indian state of Bihar.
Motihari is located at . It has an average elevation of 62 metres
Tallest Buddha Stupa in the world
Motihari is reported to have the tallest and the largest Buddhist Stupa in the world, following its discovery in 1998 through excavation by the Archaeological Survey of India
(ASI). Rising to a height of 104 feet, and much reduced than its reported original height, it is still one foot taller than the famous Borobodur Stupa in Java. The Stupa is located near the town of Kasaria, 120km from Patna
, capital of Bihar. According to the National Informatics Centre of East Champaran (Motihari) publication, the Kesaria Stupa was 123 feet tall before the 1934 earthquake in Bihar. Originally the Kesaria Stupa was reported to have been 150 feet tall, 12 feet taller than the Borobodur stupa, which is 138 feet, according to the A.S.I. report. At present Kesaria Stupa is 104 feet and Borobodur Stupa is 103 feet. The height of ‘Sanchi Stupa ‘ a world heritage site is only 77.50 feet. Legend states that Buddha, on his last Journey, is reported to have spent a memorable night at Kesaria, where he reportedly made some historical revelations, which were later recorded in a Buddhist Jataka Story, in which it was written that in his previous births he ruled as a Chakravartin. According to the story, the Buddha also asked Licchivis to return to Vaishali after giving them "Begging Bowl, and it was believed that the Stupa in Kesaria known to the people as "Raja Ben ka deora" was built by Licchivis of Vaishali before the Buddha attained Nirvana. The Chinese pilgrim, Hieun Tshang. reportedly had visited this Stupa site in the seventh century.
Mahatma Gandhi and Motihari
Motihari was the place where Mahatma Gandhi
started his 'Satyagrah' (Quest/Search for Truth). According to the All India Congress Committee
, the farmers of Champaran were forced to sow an Opium and/or Indigo on a certain portion of their farm plots. They then had to sell the same at a fixed price to the English Traders/Planters. This would cause losses and subsequent hardships to farmers. Furthermore, these crops would render the soil infertile further increasing the woe's of the halpless farmers.
Raj Kumar Shukla, a farmer in the region invited Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi (who had only recently returned from South Africa) to come help them in their plight. Thus, Mahatma Gandhi decided to come to Motihari. On 10th April 1917,the AICC report states that "a large crowd of people of Champaran witnessed the greatest architect of Indian Freedom Struggle in Motihari." The British fearing unrest ordered him to leave the district. His refusal to do the same, let to his arrest. He was offered bail on the condition that he would leave the district. Gandhi reportedly refused to leave the district or put up bail. In his statement to the Court Gandhi reportedly said, "As a law-abiding citizen my first instinct would be, as it was, to obey the order served upon me. But I could not do so without doing violence to my sense of duty to those for whom I came. I feel that I could just now serve them by remaining in their midst. I could not therefore voluntarily retire. Amidst this conflict of duty I could only throw the responsibility of removing me from on the administration". Subsequently, sensing mass disapproval of his arrest he was released.
The AICC report further states that that it was in Champaran that the theory and practice of Satyagrah came to be associated for the first time with the fight for freedom. "Mahatmaji went about from village to village in Champaran preaching love and inspiring faith and confidence among the people. Here he felt that his efforts for the uplift of the masses could not have enduring results unless an urge was created within them. For this, it was necessary to educate them. On the 13th of November, 1917 Mahatma Gandhi opened his first school at Barharwa Lakhansen, a village at a distance of about 20 miles to the east of Motihari. Another school was opened by Gandhiji on the 20th of November in a village called Bhitiharwa. A third school was opened on the 17th of January, 1918 at Madhuban, which had among its teachers, Mahadeva Desai."
This was the first such experiment on a large scale undertaken in India. The Motihari refusal to obey the Magistrate’s order was a case of individual civil disobedience, though limited to small district. The struggle went on for a few months. All pressure was brought by giving agriculturists notices of forfeiture of lands, but thanks to the presence of Gandhiji and his constant movement in the district from place to place, the people were not only non-violent, but were also very firm and prepared for any amount of sacrifices for the common cause. The AICC report further states, "It is worth mentioning that the Satyagrah of Champaran was responsible for initiation in the service of the motherland of two volunteers Acharya Kripalani and Deshratna Dr. Rajendra Prasad. While Bihar’s indebtedness to Mahatma Gandhi is irretrievable not only for having succored her million from the tentacles of white planters but also for having breathed into her soul the new message."
A museum and a stone pillar has been laid down in the memory of Mahatma Gandhi's presence in Motihari. It also contains Gandhiji's courageous statement given before the Magistrate inscribed on a stone. According to Sri Chandra Bhusahan Pandey, National Informatics Center: East Champaran, Motihari,
- "The foundation stone of this Gandhi memorial pillar was laid on June 10, 1972 by the then Governor, Mr. D.K.Barooch, and it was dedicated to the nation by Mr. Vidyakar Kavi, a grandson, on 18 April 1978.... The 48 fect long Chunar stone pillar stands exactly on the place where Mahatma Gandhi was produced before the court of the then S.D.M., Motihari in violation of orders under section 144 Cr. P. C. as far back as April 18, 1917. Mahatma Gandhi first Satyagrah was experimented on this soil of Motihari in Champaran and so Champaran has been starting point of India’s independence movement launched by Gandhi ji."
Baikuntha Nath temple: The Baikuntha Nath temple is a very important temple in the east chmparan district located 25 Km north to the district headquarter, Motihari. It is located to 10 Km south to Adapur. Narkatia, Gamharia Kala and Bahadurpur are famous villages near that temple.
Interestingly, one of the greatest writers of twentieth century, George Orwell, author of famous books Animal Farm and Nineteen Eighty-Four, was born in Motihari in 1903. His father Richard Walmesley Blair was a deputy posted in the opium department in Bihar. However, when he was one year old, George left for England with his mother and sister.
Until recently, the town of Motihari was largely unaware of its connection to Orwell. In 2003, Motihari discovered its role in Orwell's life when a number of journalists arrived in the city for what would have been Orwell's hundredth birthday. Local officials are making plans for the construction of a museum on Orwell's life.
Azizul Haque and Fingerprint Science
(Khan Bahadur Azizul Huq) was one of the two Indian police officers who worked with Edward Henry
in the development of fingerprint classification, known as Henry Classification System
, still widely used in the world. "It was Khan Bahadur Azizul Huq who evolved a mathematical formula to supplement Henry's idea of sorting slips in 1024 pigeon holes, based on fingerpint patterns. Rai Bahadur Hem Chandra Bose
made further contribution to the fingerprint science by evolving an extended system of subclassificaiton, a telegraphic code for finger impression and a system of single-digit classificaiton." (See Tewari RK, Ravikumary KV. History and development of forensic science in India. J. Postgrad Med, 46:303-308,2000.) Both Haque and Bose eventually received honorarium and recognition from the Government of India. At the time of final approval of the honorarium for Haque, the Home Department (Government of India) noted, "It appears from the information now received that he (Haque) was Sir Edward Henry's principal helper in prefecting the scheme and he actually himself devised the method of classification which is in universal use. he thus contributed most materially to a discovery which is of worldwide importance and has brought a great credit to the police of India." (Source:G.S. Sodhi and Jasjeet Kaur,The forgotten Indian pioneers of fingerprint science, CURRENT SCIENCE, 2005, VOL.88 (1):185-191.) Upon retirement from the Police service in Bengal
, Khan Bahadur Azizul Huq settled in Motihari
, and he is buried there.
As of 2001
, Motihari had a population of 101,506. Males constitute 54% of the population and females 46%. Motihari has an average literacy rate of 69%, higher than the national average of 59.5%: male literacy is 74%, and female literacy is 63%. In Motihari, 15% of the population is under 6 years of age.
Champaran and Kheda Satyagraha