Madhesh (मधेस), also known as Terai (or Tarai), is the flat southern region of Nepal which stretches from east to west. It is a part of the Indo-Gangetic Plain. It occupies about 17% of the total land and is home to almost 48% of the total population of Nepal.

The Madhesh is a 20 to 30km wide belt of flat and fertile land along the southern edge of Nepal. To the south are the Indian states of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, while the Mahabharat Range is to the north of Madhesh.

Contrary to the frequent image of Nepal as a mountainous country with snow-covered Himalayas and Mongoloid people, the region is a flat, fertile land with people and culture mostly resembling the neighboring Hindu culture of India. The major traditional languages in the region are Maithili, Bhojpuri, Abashi and Janjati.

The eastern part of Madhesh was a part of the ancient kingdom Mithila with Janakpur as its capital.

Origin of "Madhesh" and variants

Terai is used to refer to the plain area of Nepal. The word Terai or Tarai is assumed to be derived from Persian where it means 'damp' or 'moist land'. As such it strictly refers to a transition zone of springs and marshes between Bhawar alluvial fans at the base of the Chure Hills and level plains. These alluvial fans are made of coarse sediments through which groundwater moves easily downslope, whereas the plains have less pervious layers of fine sediments or even clays that virtually stop the percolation of groundwater, forcing it to the surface.

This zone was heavily forested and old settlements existed alongside the border area. Tharu, Danuwar, Majhi, Urau, Dhimal and other semi-tribal people live in the northern part of Madhesh. Yadav/Ahir, Koiri, Dhanuk, Teli, Amat, Rajbhar, Kurmi, as well as Tharu and Danuwar live in outer Madhesh. Over time, the strict meaning of the word was forgotten and Terai came to mean all lowlands in the vicinity of the Mahabharat Hills, including Nepal's entire share of the North Indian Plain as well as its "Dun" valleys.

In Nepal, the Terai is also referred as Madhesh. The word 'Madhesh' is said to be derived from 'Madhya Desh' meaning 'country in the middle'. Some scholars show its origin in 'Matsya Desh' meaning 'country of fish', tracing its origin to the country described in the Hindu scripture the Mahabharata.

There are a number of dialectical forms and Western spellings in use which refer to the population of the Madhesh: Madheshi, Madhesi, Madesi, Mahadhesi.


The elevation goes up to 1000m immediately. It is never more than 30km wide. This part can be called Madesh or Terai. The Terai makes up 17% of the area in Nepal. The soil is generally fertile and there is plentiful rain, which yields good crops.

Important Localities


The Mithiala or Kapilbastu nation inhabited the area over 2000 years ago. The area was inhabited during the "Baidik" period from 1300B.C. to 1000B.C. The Karnataka dynasty, founded by Nanya Dev, establised the Tirhut nation. It is also called Simraungarh. After the unification of Nepal under Prithvi Narayan Shah, the Madhesh region came under Nepal.

The Madhesh was a useful buffer against territorial ambitions of Indian princes and above all British expansion. In fact the malarial belt could be relied on to decimate invading troops before they reached the Pahari heartland. Most of the land in Terai was then covered by forest.

Although Nepal nominally became a democracy under Democratic parties in 1990, historical patterns of government employment being restricted to Paharis have lasted right up to the present day. The populations of the Madhesh participated little and seemed at risk of being overlooked in the negotiated settlements aimed at giving Janajatis more representation.


The Terai has a subtropical climate and it can often be humid. The best weather is from November to February, when day temperatures are from the mid 20°'s C to the high 20°'s C and it is cool, sometimes cold at night. It very seldom rains during this period.

From late April to the beginning of September the weather is hot, often going over 40°C. The monsoon goes from mid-June to mid-September, and this not a good time to visit. Most areas in the Terai get over 1500mm of rain in a year.


The people in the region are mostly Indo-Aryan speaking, inhabiting the area for thousands of years, and are referred as Madhesis. The kingdom of Buddha around 500 BC, Tirhut, Sen and other kingdoms were part of Madhesh. The main religion of Madhesh (including all ethnic groups) is Hinduism, although the majority of Nepal's small Muslim minority live in Madhesh. Popular dress includes the traditional male Dhoti, Kurta, and typical janjati dress. Similar sari, blouse, kutra salwar, and typical janjati dress are worn by women.

The majority of the Terai peoples are indigenous to Madhesh, while groups like the Kirants are from outside Nepal. Terai groups include Tharu, Rajbansi, Koche, Mece, Dhimal, Satar, Danuwar, and Dhangars.

As opposed to most parts of Nepal where nuclear families predominate, most Terai live amongst large joint families.

Maithili is the lingua franca of the Terai people.


A movement was recently formed in the Terai area of Nepal called the Madheshi movement which demands the end to the discrimination to the Madheshi people, greater autonomy within Nepal, and greater representation in the national parliament. The different parties involved in the movement range from the student wings of the ruling parties to the armed Janatantrik Terai Mukti Morcha. These are basically divided into two groups with two different leaders. It is basically more terrorism-oriented rather than a politically motivated organization according to the Nepalese Government, since it has been causing many criminal activities in Nepal although they claim to be a political institution. Their demands thus are different. The peaceful parties involved demand a federal political system, whereas the armed rebels demand a separate state.

There are other popular groups among the Madhesi people of Nepal, namely the Madhesi Janadhikar Forum (MJF). This party launched the historical Madhesh movement and huge masses people took to the streets. About 40 persons died. Due to this, Kathmandu provided federal provinance. On December 17th, 2007 the Unified Madheshi Front announced a plan to launch protests and unrest in Terai for moving towards autonomy. If their demands are not met they have threatened to secede from Nepal.


Economically, Madhesh is the most productive region of Nepal. Although Pahades discriminate against Madhesi, 70% of the major industries in the country are in this region.

Agriculture is the main economic stake of the region. Main crops are paddy, wheat, pulses, moong, sugarcane, jute, tobacco, and maize. Many agro-based industries like jute factories, sugar mills, rice mills and tobacco factories are established throughout the region.


The main places to visit in Madhesh are Lumbini, the birth place of Buddha; and Janakpur, the birthplace of Sita and where she married Rama, from the Ramayana.

The main east–west road through Nepal is the Mahendra Highway, which goes from the Karnali River at the western border of Bardia National Park to Kakarbhitta on the eastern border of Nepal.

See also

External links


 9. FOR MORE INFORMATION - ["Nepalko Madhesi Samaj"; 2065,by deepak chaudhary, publisher-    ratna pustak bhandar.'']

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