Past Cities

Birgunj, Madhesh, Nepal

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Birgunj, located in the southern plains of Nepal, is a historically significant city in the Madhesh region. With a rich past intertwined with the political environment and geographical context, Birgunj has played a crucial role in shaping the history of Nepal.

Birgunj is the second-largest city in Nepal's central region and serves as a major gateway for trade and commerce between Nepal and India. The city is situated on the Indo-Nepal border and is strategically positioned along the primary trade route connecting the two countries. As a result, Birgunj has witnessed the influence of various political powers and experienced significant transformations throughout history.

The population of Birgunj has seen substantial growth over the years. According to recent estimates, the city is home to approximately 200,000 inhabitants. It is a diverse and cosmopolitan city, with people from various ethnic backgrounds and religious beliefs coexisting harmoniously. The dominant ethnic groups in Birgunj include Madhesis, Tharus, and people of Indian origin.

The history of Birgunj dates back to ancient times. The region, known as Mithila, has been mentioned in ancient Hindu scriptures like the Ramayana and Mahabharata. In the medieval period, Mithila was ruled by the Maithil kings, who were patrons of art, literature, and culture. However, the region came under the control of various dynasties and experienced political changes over time.

During the colonial era, Birgunj fell under the influence of the British Empire. The city served as a crucial center for trade, primarily due to its proximity to the Indian state of Bihar. The construction of the Raxaul-Birgunj railway line in the early 1900s further enhanced Birgunj's importance as a trade hub. This connection allowed for the transportation of goods and people between Nepal and India, facilitating economic growth and cultural exchange.

In the early 1950s, Nepal experienced a period of political change and transformation. The overthrow of the autocratic Rana regime and the establishment of a democratic system had significant implications for Birgunj. The city became a hotspot for political activism, as people demanded greater political representation and socioeconomic rights. The Madheshi movement gained momentum in Birgunj during this time, advocating for the rights and recognition of the Madheshi community.

In the 1990s, Nepal witnessed another crucial political event—the end of the Panchayat system and the reintroduction of multiparty democracy. Birgunj, being a politically active city, played a significant role in the democratic movement. The city became a center for political rallies, protests, and discussions, shaping the national discourse on democracy and governance.

Geographically, Birgunj's proximity to the Indian border has had profound effects on its economy, culture, and politics. The open border policy between Nepal and India has led to a thriving cross-border trade and commerce in the region. Birgunj's role as a commercial hub has been further bolstered by the establishment of the Birgunj-Pathlaiya Industrial Corridor, which has attracted numerous industries and investments.

However, the geographical location of Birgunj has also presented challenges. The city has faced occasional border disputes with India, leading to tense situations and disruptions in trade. The political dynamics between Nepal and India have influenced Birgunj's development and have been a subject of discussion and negotiation.