Rapti Zone

Last updated
Rapti Zone

राप्ती अञ्चल
Rapti districts.png
Country Flag of Nepal.svg    Nepal
Time zone UTC+5:45 (Nepal Time)

Rapti Zone (Nepali : राप्ती अञ्चल Loudspeaker.svg Listen  ) was one of the fourteen zones, located in the Mid-Western Development Region of Nepal. It was named after the West Rapti River which drains Rolpa , Pyuthan and part of Dang districts. The remainder of Dang and part of Salyan district are drained by the Babai. The remainder of Salyan and all of Rukum districts are drained by the Bheri.


The headquarters of Rapti were Tulsipur and the largest city was Tribhuvannagar (Ghorahi). Other main cities and towns of Rapti zone were Pyuthan Khalanga , Bijuwar , Liwang, Lamahi, Musikot , Rukumkot (Shova) and Chaurjahari .


Rapti Zone was divided into 5 districts:

Dang Inner Terai Ghorahi
Pyuthan Hill Pyuthan Khalanga
Rolpa Hill Liwang
Rukum Hill Musikot (Jhumlikhalanga)
Salyan Hill Salyan Khalanga


Dang District begins at the border with India. Since the border follows the southern edge of the Dudhwa Range —a subrange of the Siwaliks , here there is no Nepalese Outer Terai extending onto the main Indo-Gangetic Plain . Dang has two Inner Terai Valleys . Deukhuri lies beyond the Dudhwas, then a second low subrange—the Dang Range—separates Deukhuri from Dang Valley. Beyond Dang Valley the district extends to the crest of the higher Mahabharat Range .

The two valleys have abundant level and gently-sloping land with fair to good soil development, and abundant groundwater. Malaria made them nearly uninhabitable except to the Tharu ethnic group that had evolved resistance. In the 1960s DDT came into use to suppress the mosquito vectors and the way was open to settlers from the hills who used debt and lawsuits to displace and even enslave Tharus.

Dang is the most developed and most rapidly developing of the zone's five districts. Mahendra Highway, Nepal's main east-west route, follows Deukhuri Valley. Dang Valley has two important towns, Tribuvan nagar and Tulsipur, and an all-weather airport.

Pyuthan, Rolpa and Salyan Districts are in the Middle Hills extending north from the crest of the Mahabharat Range. Pyuthan has a rice-growing alluvial plain along Jhimruk Khola, surrounded by villages of rice-growing Bahun and Chhetri farmers served by bazaar towns of Newar merchants. Rolpa district mainly lies along Mardi Khola, the other large Rapti tributary that is more eroded into an inner gorge and less suited to traditional irrigation projects.

Pyuthan and Rolpa extend north to a rugged 3-4,000 meter ridgeline marking the limits of the Rapti Basin. Kham Magar live in small villages throughout these highlands up to about 2,500 meters. They herd sheep, goats and cattle in high summer pastures as far north as the western Dhaulagiri Himalaya in Rukum district, moving south to the Mahabharat Range in winter. Kham also cultivate subtropical and temperate fruit trees such as mulberry, citrus and Asian pear as cash crops. Until it was outlawed in the 1970s they cultivated hemp and made hashish bought by government agents to be sold in monopoly stores. Termination of these arrangements increased Kham outmigration in search of employment and contributed to discontent with the Shah regime.

Salyan resembles Pyuthan in having a mix of rice-growing lowlands inhabited by caste Hindus, and uplands inhabited by Kham peoples. It is drained by the Babai and Bheri rivers.

Rukum is Rapi Zone's northernmost, most mountainous district including the western part of Dhaulagiri Himalaya drained by the Bheri River. At lower elevations it is populated by Hindu Khas people said to be ancestral to most of Nepal's Bahuns and Chhetris living further east. Kham Magars live higher up. A notable valley called Rukumkot lies near the district's geographical center.

Rapti Zone has a history of radical politics since the mid-20th century and in the 1990s became a center of the Maoist (maobadi) rebellion against the royal government and the fragile democracy that the late King Birendra eventually supported.

Economic Development

Historically, geographic isolation inhibited economic development in Rapti Zone. Trans-himalayan trade routes lay to the east along the Kaligandaki River and to the west along the Bheri and Karnali. Compared to these, a hypothetical transhimalayan trade route through Rapti would have been impeded by a wide Inner Terai malarial belt, by ridges up to 4,000 meters exiting the Rapti watershed, then by the Dhaulagiri Himalayas and the only comparatively lower Kagmara and Tibetan border ranges before reaching the Tibetan Plateau.

Elsewhere in Nepal the Outer Terai began developing in the mid 1930s because the Rana dynasty sought limited industrial development and because development could easily spread from India across a border with little impediment. However, in Rapti Zone the border turned north to follow the base of the first range of foothills. Areas suited for development were confined to valleys beyond these low but rugged mountains. Furthermore, these valleys remained dangerously malarial until USAID began spraying DDT in 1954.

In Rapti's Middle Hills the only economic activity of interest to the government in Kathmandu was cottage hashish production from scattered plantings of Cannabis indica . Government agents carried marijuana and balls of charas to Kathmandu for retail and export to India. This trade ended in 1974 in response to U.S. pressure and inducements. USAID promoted temperate climate fruit and food crops as replacement cash crops, but this program failed due to lack of adequate transportation out of the hills. Otherwise there was limited local trade, no industry and hardly any agriculture beyond subsistence to tax, so the national government found little incentive for involvement in Rapti zone.

By the 1960s land-hungry hill people began to settle in the Dang and Deukhuri valleys and in the 1980s the east-west Mahendra Highway was built across the country, followed by spur roads south to Koilabas and north to Pyuthan, Rolpa, Dang Valley, Swargadwari and Salyan. This enabled ordinary Nepalis to reach the rest of the country in a day or two by inexpensive buses instead of by limited, expensive air service out of Dang airport or roundabout routes through India using trains and buses going east or west as well as several days on foot, so Rapti Zone's historic condition of isolation largely ended and then connection increased with the arrival of landline and cellular telephones, radio broadcasts and Internet.

The growing highway network replaced human porterage and greatly reduced transport costs. More goods were on sale locally, at lower prices. It also helped feed a diaspora sending Nepalese youth and fathers off to India, the Middle East, Europe and even the U.S. for employment and education. Another effect was to foster invidious comparison between increasing amenities of bazaar towns along the spur roads versus unchanged austerity in the hinterlands above that were mainly populated by Kham Magar janajatis. This added to historic grievances from government neglect and favoritism toward upper-caste hill Hindus, so Kham living in the highlands became ripe for recruitment by the Maobadi movement and the national government was virtually pushed out of Rolpa and Rukum during the 1996-2006 Nepalese Civil War.

See also

Coordinates: 28°20′N82°30′E / 28.333°N 82.500°E / 28.333; 82.500

Related Research Articles

Banke District District in Lumbini Province, Nepal

Banke District (Nepali: बाँके जिल्लाListen , a part of Lumbini Province, is one of the 77 districts of Nepal. The district, located in midwestern Nepal with Nepalganj as its district headquarters, covers an area of 2,337 km2 and had a population of 385,840 in 2001 and 491,313 in 2011. There are three main cities in the Banke District: Nepalganj, Kohalpur and Khajura Bajaar.

Dang District, Nepal District in Lumbini Province, Nepal

Dang District is located in Inner Terai in Lumbini Province in midwestern Nepal. The district, with Ghorahi as its headquarters, covers 2,955 km² and has a population (2011) of 548,141. Tulsipur, the second biggest city of Dang, is a transportation hub. There are numerous temples and gumbas in Dang Deukhuri district.

Pyuthan District District in Nepal

Pyuthan District(Nepali: प्युठान जिल्लाListen , is a "hill" district some 250 km west of Kathmandu in Lumbini Province in midwestern Nepal. Pyuthan covers an area of 1,309 km2 with population of 212,484 in 2001 and 226,796 in 2011. Pyuthan Khalanga is the district's administrative center.

Rukum District Former District in Nepal

Rukum District was a "hill" and "mountain" district some 280 km (170 mi) west of Kathmandu partially belonging to Province No. 5 and partially to Karnali Pradesh before split into two districts Western Rukum and Eastern Rukum after the state's reconstruction of administrative divisions in 2017. Rukum covers an area of 2,877 km2 (1,111 sq mi) with population of 207,290 in 2011 Nepal census. Musikot was the district's administrative center.

Rolpa District District in Province No. 5, Nepal

RolpaListen , is a "hill" district in Lumbini Province of Nepal. Rolpa district covers an area of 1,879 km2 (725 sq mi) with population (2011) of 221,177. Rolpa town is the district's administrative center.

Western magar are descriptive terms invented by academic linguists and anthropologists for a nationality in the Middle Hills of mid-western Nepal inhabiting highlands extending through Eastern Rukum and northern Salyan, Rolpa and Pyuthan Districts in Rapti Zone as well as Dhaulagiri and Bheri Zones. They speak a complex of Tibeto-Burman distinct language called Kham Magar language, locally called as Kham-Pang.

Pyuthan Municipality Municipality in Mid-Western, Nepal

Pyuthan is municipality in Pyuthan District, a Middle Hills district of Rapti Zone, Mid-western Nepal. It is also the District Headquarter and the administrative center. The municipality was established on 18 May 2014 by merging the existing Pyuthan Khalanga, Bijubar, Dakha Kwadi, Bijaya Nagar, Dharmawati, Maranthana and Khaira village development committees.

Ghorahi Sub-Metropolitan City in Lumbini Province, Nepal

Ghorahi is the seventh largest city and largest sub-metropolitan city of Nepal. The city lies in Lumbini Province in the mid-Western part of Nepal. It is the largest city of Dang Deukhuri District of southwest Nepal. Located in the Inner Terai region, it lies 413 kilometres (257 mi) south-west of Nepal's capital Kathmandu and is one of the Counter Magnets being developed as an alternative centre of growth to help ease the migration and population explosion in the Kathmandu metropolitan area. It is the largest city of the Rapti Zone and is surrounded by the Sivalik Hills to the south and Mahabharata Range to the north.

Mahendra Highway

Mahendra Highway, also called East-West Highway runs across the Terai geographical region of Nepal, from Mechinagar in the east to Bhim Datta in the west, cutting across the entire width of the country. It is the longest highway in Nepal and was constructed by CPWD/PWD Nepali and Indian engineers.

The Inner Terai Valleys of Nepal comprise several elongated river valleys in the southern lowland Terai part of the country. These tropical valleys are enclosed by the Himalayan foothills, viz the Mahabharat Range and the Sivalik Hills farther south. The Inner Terai is called "bhitri Terai " in Nepali language.

Koilabas Village Development Committee in Province No. 5, Nepal

Koilabas is a bazaar town situated in Gadhawa Rural Municipality in Dang Deokhuri District in Province No. 5 of south-western Nepal. The town is situated on the southern edge of the Dudhwa Range of the Siwaliks, at Nepal's border with Uttar Pradesh 5 km from the village Jarwa on the other side. Indian and Nepalese nationals may cross the border unrestricted however there is a customs checkpoint for goods. Koilabas has regular bus service to Tulsipur on the Gorakhpur-Gonda Loop of Indian Railways.

Tulsipur, Dang Sub-Metropolitan City in Lumbini Province, Nepal

Tulsipur is a Sub-Metropolitan City in Dang District of Lumbini Province of Nepal. As per population, it is the district's second most populous city after Ghorahi. It was established in 1992 by merging the former Village development committees Tulsipur and Amritpur. In 2014, it was expanded and the Village development committees of Urahari, Tarigaun, Pawannagar and Halwar. At the time of the 2011 Nepal census it had a population of 141,528 people living in 31,243 individual households.

Tiram Village Development Committee in Mid-Western, Nepal

Tiram is a town and Village Development Committee in Pyuthan, a Middle Hills district of Rapti Zone, western Nepal.

West Rapti River River in Nepal

West Rapti drains Rapti Zone in Mid-Western Region, Nepal, then Awadh and Purvanchal regions of Uttar Pradesh state, India before joining the Ghaghara—a major left bank tributary of the Ganges known as the Karnali inside Nepal.

Babai River River in South Asia

The Babai River originates in and completely drains Inner Terai Dang Valley of Mid-Western Nepal. Dang is an oval valley between the Mahabharat Range and Siwalik Hills in its eponymous district. Dang was anciently home to indigenous Tharu people and came to be ruled from India by the House of Tulsipur who also counted as one of the Baise Rajya —a confederation of 22 petty kingdoms in the Karnali (Ghagra) region. About 1760 AD all these kingdoms were annexed by the Shah Dynasty during the unification of Nepal, except Tulsipur lands south of the Siwalik Hills were not taken. Since Dang Valley was somewhat higher, cooler, better-drained and therefore less malarial than most of the country's Inner Terai, it was settled to some extent by Shah and Rana courtiers and other Paharis long before DDT was introduced to control the disease-bearing Anopheles mosquito.

Lumbini Province Province of Nepal

Lumbini Province is one of the seven provinces established by the new constitution of Nepal which was adopted on 20 September 2015. The province covers an area of 22,288 km2 - about 15.1% of the country's total area. The Provincial Assembly adopted Lumbini Province as the permanent name by replacing its initial name Province No. 5 on 6 October 2020 and Rapti Valley, Dang, Nepal was declared the state capital of the province. It borders Gandaki Province and Karnali Province to the north, Sudurpashchim Province to the west, and Uttar Pradesh of India to the south. The major cities in this province are Butwal, and Bhairahawa from Rupandehi district, Nepalgunj from Banke district, Tansen from Palpa District while Ghorahi and Tulsipur from Dang District, Nepal.

Eastern Rukum District District in Province No. 5, Nepal

Eastern Rukum is a mountain district located in the Lumbini Province of Nepal. It is one of the twelve districts of the province and contains over sixty percent of Dhorpatan Hunting Reserve in the western section of Dhaulagiri mountain range. It is also the only mountain-district of the province with its tallest mountain Putha Hiunchuli situated in the west end of Dhaulagiri II mountain chain, at an elevation of 7,246 meters. Eastern Rukum has been included as one of "Nepal´s top 100 travel destinations" by the Government of Nepal.

Western Rukum District District in Karnali Pradesh, Nepal

Western Rukum a part of Karnali province, is one of the seventy-seven districts of Nepal. Musikot is the headquarter of the district.

Deukhuri Capital of Lumbini Province

Deukhuri also known as Deukhuri Valley is capital of Lumbini Province decided on 20th of Aswin 2077 BS.