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Dharan, Nepal

धरान उपमहानगरपालिका
Sub-Metropolitan City
Dharan from hill sides
Dharan from hill sides
Nickname(s): Queen of The East, City of Lahurey
Motto: "To build an environmentally sound city, functioning as the centre of education, health, tourism and business with fully developed infrastructure".
Dharan is located in Nepal
Location of Dharan in Nepal
Coordinates: 26°49′0″N 87°17′0″E / 26.81667°N 87.28333°E / 26.81667; 87.28333
Country    Nepal
Zone Koshi Zone
District Sunsari District
Incorporated November 16, 1960
 • Body Dharan Sub-Metropolitan City
 • Executive Officer Bishnu Prasad Koirala[1]
 • Total 74.37 sq mi (192.61 km2)
 • Water 1.7 sq mi (4.4 km2)
Elevation 1,201 ft (366 m)
Population (2011)
 • Total 141,439
 • Density 1,901.9/sq mi (734.33/km2)
 • Ethnicities (Majorities) Limbu, Yakkha, Sunuwar, Rai, Khas (Chhetri & Brahmin), Newar
 • Ethnicities (Minorities) Magar, Gurung, Tamang, Dalits, Marwari, Madeshi
 • Official Nepali
Time zone NST (UTC+5:45)
Postal Code 56700 (Sunsari), 56702 (Mangalbare)
Telephone code 025

Dharan (Devanāgarī: धरान) is one of the Sub-Metropolitan cities in eastern 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 January 28 to January 31, 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.[2]


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 worthy son Mabo Hang succeeded him in 865 AD and ruled till 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, 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.

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 couple of decades, the population of Dharan has increased and diversified to include people from various ethnicities like Limbu, Brahmins, Chhetris, Rai, Gurung, Newar, Sunuwar, Yakha etc.

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.[3]

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. Initially, the town was divided into eleven wards, but in 1980, Two adjoining Gaon Panchayat, 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. Now Dharan is divided into twenty-seven wards in 2014.


The name Dharan is Nepali, which literally means a place where you saw timber. A typical Dharan is constructed by digging a rectangular plot about 5 to 6 feet deep. This hole is large and deep enough for an adult to comfortably move about. A platform is constructed to cover half of the hole. A timber is placed on this platform and a two-man team, one standing on the platform and the other in the dug out proceed to saw timber with a huge saw blade. This is very labor-intensive and dangerous process.

Local Government

The local administration body is the Submetropolitan. Dharan Sub metropolitan city is headed by an elected mayor. There are 27 electoral wards in Dharan. A corporator is elected in each of the wards, and people of Dharan directly elect the mayor by majority vote.

Electricity is provided and distributed by Nepal Electricity Authority which is a state run company.

Entertainment/Sports facilities

Dharan has two cinema halls featuring Nepali, Hindi and English-language films. These are Ganesh Takeej and Shiv Cinema. The town used to have a public library. It exists no more.

From the very beginning Dharan has been an arena for games and sports. Many of its players have represented Nepal in international competitions. Till now Dharan is a force to reckon with in Football, Martial Arts and Cricket. The biggest and probably the best golf course of the country (18 holes) is in Dharan. Dharan Football Club with co-organization of Dharan Municipality, every year in August and September, the prestigious Budha Subba Gold Cup football tournament is held in which most teams of national repute participate. Dharan has also seen tremendous increase in popularity for bboying among the youths in the recent years and bboy/bgirl performances are now common in the major events of Dharan.

The sporting activities are mainly centered in the multipurpose stadium Dharan Rangasala. The popular sports are football, cricket, volleyball, Basketball etc. The Dharan Football Club is one of the most active organizations promoting football in the city and organizes a South Asian club-level annual tournament. Nearby Bhedetar hill has developed as a good attraction for adventure activities such as paragliding and Mountain biking. Adventure sports such as Cycling, paragliding, canyoning, etc. are targeted towards tourists. The musical events are quite often nowadays. The outsiders Band is one of the popular Band as well as Prajwal Timsina a rockstar


Dantakali temple Dharan

Dharan is a melting pot of many cultures, representing a mix of diverse cultures of Nepal. There are many people from the surrounding district, Sankhuwasabha, Tehrathum, Ilam, Panchthar, Dhankuta, Bhojpur, Taplegung Khotang etc., who live in Dharan.

Different ethnic groups host their traditional cultural festivities all year around. The Dhan Naach (Dance), "Chyabrung Naach" (Dance)and Chasok Tangnam of Limbus, "Chasowa-Yuchhyang" ("Udhauli-Ubhauli"), "Sangdangrangma" ("Dokeni i.e. Goddess of Wealth"), "Kei Lak" ("Dhol Nach") of Yakkha, Lakhe naach (Dance) and Gai Jatra of Newars, Sakela of Rai, Selo of Tamangs, Rodighar of Gurungs, Baalan and Sangini of Brahmin and Chhetris, all add to the cultural tradition of Dharan. Dharan also hosts a Sakela competition in Dharan every year. It starts from the Baisakh Sukla Purnima (full moon of day of the month of Baisakh) and lasts for 15 days. One of the big devoted temple of Dharan is a Hindu god Hanuman's temple named Panchmuki Balaji Dharan Dham. Many things are told about the temple because of its greatness and truthfullness. People from many parts of India such as W.B, Sikkim, Rajasthan, etc. and people from Nepal come here to get the blessings of Lord Hanumana. On the day of Purnima every after 6 months there is a mela held in this temple as the birth of Lord Hanuman took place on the day of Purnima.

Attractions in Dharan and nearby

Dharan city from Buda Subba height 2013

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.

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 Himal, Kanchenjunga, Makalu Barun National Park, Arun Valley, Tinjure-Milke (Rhododendron Protection Area), Gupha Lake, Hyatrung Fall, 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 Panch Kanya. 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:

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

Geography and climate

Climate of this area is tropical monsoon category its maximum temperature 35 to 36 Degree Celsius in April, minimum 9 to 11 Degree Celsius in January.

Media and communication


One of the major highways, Koshi highway, passes through Dharan and links it with Dhankuta. Regular bus services and hired vehicles connect Dharan with Biratnagar and other neighbouring towns. Biratnagar Airport (40 km) is the nearest airport. Dharan is about 40 km from Biratnagar. It takes around 1 hour to reach Dharan from Biratnagar by road and costs about 80 rupees.

From Kathmandu, the capital of Nepal, buses leave everyday at 3:30 pm from the Gongabu Bus Park, arriving around 6 AM the next morning if there are no any traffic jams. Micro-buses also operate from Koteshwor leaving at 5 AM and 7 AM. Tickets can be purchased for 1000-1500 Nepalese Rupees only.

The local transport consists of city-safaris and auto-rickshaws (or tempos). Sharing a ride with other passengers on auto-rickshaws and city-safaris are the most economical mode of transport.


Civic Administration

Dharan Submetropolitan looks after civic affairs in the town. The municipal area was previously divided into Nineteen wards. However, from May 8, 2014, as per the decision made by cabinet ministers, it is now divided into 27 wards with Panchakanya and Bishnupaduka V.D.C added to the existing area of Dharan. There was a proposal to upgrade it to a Sub-metropolitan after including neighbouring area under its jurisdiction which succeed in December 2014.


Dharan has five public colleges and university (three under Tribhuvan University, one under Nepal Sanskrit University and one with deemed university status B.P. Koirala Institute of Health Sciences), several private colleges with affiliation with other national universities and more than 40 public and private secondary schools. Central Campus of Technology ( Locally also known as Hattisar Campus) is one of the constituent campus of Tribhuvan University Where Food Technology and Nutrition & Dietetics program are offered. Dharan also has 9 private and 1 public library and 3 special education centre. It has more than 5 technical school affiliated to Council for Technical Education and Vocational Training (CTEVT). Among them, Public Highschool & Sarada Balika Higher Secondary School are the most notable educational institution in the town of Dharan.


Academic institutions in Dharan include:



High Schools:

Notable people