Dharan: Queen of the Eastern Hills

A beautiful town in Eastern Nepal

  •   2018-04-10  |  nepaltraveller.com

With ancient temples, lush greenery, and scenic vistas, the vibrant city of Dharan is the gateway to the hills of eastern Nepal and has a lot to offer to its visitors.

Nestled in the foothills of the Mahabharat Range, the sprawling city of Dharan is well known for its ancient temples, greenery, scenic views, and cleanliness. The city is the gateway to the hill districts of eastern Nepal and has a lot to offer for its visitors.

Historically, Bijaypur, a small town near Dharan, was the capital of the Morang kingdom, the most powerful and influential of all the kingdoms in Limbuwan region until the Gorkha-Limbuwan War of 1774—after which—the Sen kings captured the seat of the throne to the Bijaypur palace. The foundation of modern Dharan was laid by the Rana prime minister Chandra Shamsher, and though the primary reason for the town's establishment was to supply timber to the British East India Company, the British later opened a Gurkha Recruit Centre in the town which led to a surge of population with recruits bringing their families and other wishing to seek employment with them. In the recent decades, Dharan has been a trading post between the eastern hill districts and the Terai, and also the recruitment centre for the world famous Brigade of Gurkhas. 

Dharan and its nearby localities have a lot to offer for tourists. Firstly, for the adventure lovers, the nearby hill station of Bhedetar (Charles point), along with offering scenic views of the city, is a popular destination for paragliding. Being the gateway to the hilly districts of Nepal, trekkers can take buses to the Hile to start the Kanchenjunga Base Camp trek. The trekking route is very scenic as one needs to pass through the beautiful Rhododendron forests. To get a sight of the mountains, one can also travel to Raja Rani Hill—20 km from Dharan—to get a sight of the beautiful mountain panorama of the Kanchenjunga, Kumbhakarna, Makalu, and Mt. Everest.

The Koshi Tappu Wildlife Reserve, an hour’s drive from Dharan, is home to rare species of birds and Nepal’s last remaining population of wild water buffalo (Arna).

For the tourists visiting for pilgrimage, a visit to Dharan is an opportunity to visit the most revered shrines.The Budha Subba temple is an ancient Kirant temple famous for bamboos that don't have shoots and no crows either. The Dantakali temple is a major Shakti Peeth in Nepal. Legend has it that after the death of Lord Shiva’s wife Sati Devi, he carried her dead body and roamed the earth. After Sati Devi’s body started decaying, her body pieces fell in different places and are known as Shakti Peeths. It is at Dantakali where the teeth of Sati Devi was said to have fallen off. 

Baraha Chhetra, an important Hindu pilgrimage site on the banks of the river Koshi, is an hours drive from Dharan. It is one of four Chettras of Hindu mythology and legend has it that Lord Vishnu took the incarnation of Varaha and protected the earth being submerged into the underworld with his tusks. Then the Lord sat with his wife Laxmi on the banks of Koshi river and on the lap of the Himalayas, and this is how the place gets its name. A Kumbh Mela is held once in every twelve years and thousands of pilgrims visit the site during this month-long occasion.

One could also travel to the northern districts of Khotang and Taplejung to visit the Halesi Mahadev Caves and the Pathibhara Temple, some other important Hindu pilgrimage sites.

While you're around the city, you can enjoy strolling the lush green parks, trying out the eateries and shopping in the lively bazaars. Dharan is highly regarded as Nepal’s greenest and cleanest city, so be sure to give this vibrant town a visit while you plan a vacation to the eastern parts of the country.

How to get there:

Catch a flight to the city of Biratnagar. Dharan is a 45-minute drive from here.
For visitors coming from India, one could take a flight to Bagdogra, from which Dharan is a three-hour drive.

Shravya Singh Karki is a content writer at Nepaltraveller.com. He enjoys occasional visits to Dharan.