come to the Terai expecting snow-clad mountains and jaw-dropping
vistas, you'll soon be disappointed. What you get instead is hot
subtropical plains and some of the most fascinating attractions in
Nepal. Foremost among them is the magnificent Royal Chitwan National
Park, once the hunting ground of British and Nepalese aristocrats.
Today, the animals - elephant, rhinoceros, tiger, leopard and deer -
are protected, not shot. Probably the greatest thrill here is to
scout for wildlife on the back of an elephant. If that's too
uncomfortable, you can do the same thing in a jeep or canoe, or go
jungle walking with experienced guides. Watch out for leeches, which
operate with stealth-like efficiency during the monsoon.
Janakpur is an attractive city,
bustling with tourists - Indian pilgrims that is, not Western
backpackers. The city's religious significance is due to its role as
the birthplace of Sita (Rama's wife in the Hindu epic Ramayana).
During festivals, when vignettes from the Ramayana are re-enacted,
it almost feels as if the ancient myth has come to life. If you can
overcome its bewildering tangle of streets, Janakpur is packed with
worthwhile sights including temples, pilgrim hostels and tiny sacred
ponds. On the city's outskirts is the Janakpur Women's Development
Centre, a must-see if you're interested in traditional painting and
ceramics or the role of women in local society. Beautiful Devghat
and Lumbini, now confirmed as the birthplace of Buddha, are also
important devotional sites in the Terai.
Janakpur is over 135km (84mi) from
Kathmandu, and a little less than that to the Chitwan National Park.
A number of airlines fly to destinations within the Terai, but the
most popular mode of transport is bus, more through economic
necessity than choice. Usually they are overcrowded,
stopping-all-stations affairs that leave you battered and bruised.
If you've got a bit of extra cash, hiring a car is a comfortable way
to see the region or, alternatively, a good mountain bike will get
you there, back and around.
Places in Chitwan, Hotels in Chitwan, Jungle Safari
Machan WildLife Resort