Birgunj (also Birganj) (Nepali: बीरगंज) is a metropolitan city and border town in Parsa District in the Narayani Zone of southern Nepal. It lies 135 km (84 mi) south of the capital Kathmandu, attached in the north to Raxaul in the border of the Indian state of Bihar. As an entry point to Nepal from Patna and Kolkata, it is known as the “Gateway to Nepal”. The town has significant economic importance for central Nepal as most of the trade with India is via Birgunj and the Indian town of Raxaul. Tribhuvan Highway links Birgunj to Nepal’s capital, Kathmandu. It was declared as a Metropolitan City on 22 May 2017 along with Biratnagar. Birgunj is currently the second largest city in the Terai region of Nepal (after Biratnagar), and the sixth most populated metropolis of the nation.
Vijay Kumar Sarawagi is the mayor and Shanti Karki is the deputy mayor who won the local elections on September 27, 2017.
Birgunj was established as a conglomerate of several villages in and around Gahawa Mai Temple. Gahawa Mai Temple remains the epicenter of the town. The settlement was named after the Rana Prime Minister Bir Shamsher, thus acquiring the name Birgunj.
According to the 2011 Census, Birgunj had a population of 133,238. It is the second biggest city in Terai and the fifth biggest city in Nepal after Kathmandu, Pokhara, Lalitpur, and Biratnagar. It serves as the headquarters of the Parsa District. Although Nepali is the official language, the native Bhojpuri language is the main language spoken. In addition to Bhojpuri, several other languages are spoken, including Maithili , Hindi and English.
Birgunj was founded in 1897 by 3rd Rana Prime Minister Bir Shamsher Jang Bahadur Rana; the ancient name was Gahawa.
On 18 May 2006, the parliament of Nepal declared that the country would become a secular state. This led to unrest by Hindu fundamentalist groups across Nepal; the town of Birgunj was forced to close for nearly two years and was disturbed for more than 10 years .
Birgunj is a major business centre of Nepal, especially for trade with India. Almost all trade with India occurs through this route. The Indian border town of Raxaul has become one of the busiest towns for heavy transportation due to high trade volume.The 29 km (18 mi) distance from Birgunj to Pathlaiya is the busiest highway in Nepal. Most industries are represented, including agriculture, chemicals, textiles, wood, petroleum, etc. Almost 56% of the total products of Birgunj are exported to the Indian state of Bihar.
Birgunj was built as the closest Nepalese city connecting the capital Kathmandu with India. Birgunj railway station was connected by the Nepal Government Railway (NGR) to Raxaul station in Bihar across the border with India. The 47 km (29 mi) railway extended north to Amlekhganj in Nepal. It was built in 1927 by the British but discontinued beyond Birgunj in December 1965.
Trains run to major cities of India from Raxaul station (in India, adjacent to Birgunj) and Sugauli station (17 miles from Raxaul) including the Satyagrah Express to Delhi, Mithila Express to Kolkata, Lokmanya Tilak express to Mumbai, and HYD-RXL express to Hyderabad. Thus, Birgunj has direct connectivity to major Indian cities like – Patna, Varanasi, Allahabad, Kolkata, New Delhi, Mumbai, Bhopal, Amritsar, Guwahati, Bhopal, Lucknow, Gorakhpur, Kanpur, Ranchi, Raipur, Nagpur, Hyderabad, etc.
Birgunj is served by Simara Airport, which lies 9 miles North of the city. Regular flights operate between Kathmandu & Simara. The Second International Airport of Nepal in under construction at Nijgadh (22 miles from Birganj). There are plans to connect the new airport, Birgunj and Kathmandu via a “Fasttrack” expressway after its completion. This is expected to reduce travel times between the capital and the commercial capital, Birgunj
There are regular bus services to all major cities and towns in Nepal including Kathmandu, Pokhara, Patan, Bhaktapur, Biratnagar, Dharan, Butwal, Nepalgunj, Dhangadhi, Kakarvitta, Janakpur, Bhairahawa(Lumbini), Bharatpur(Chitwan), etc.
Local bus services provide transportation inside the city and into its vicinity. Night buses from Birgunj to Kathmandu are the most luxurious bus services in all over Nepal.Birgunj bus park is the centre to find buses for any route,
Horse driven carts locally called Tanga have historically been the mode of transport for the Madheshi people. Today it survives as a popular transportation vehicle between Birgunj and its sister city Raxaul.
The 6 km (3.7 mi) railway track from Raxaul to Birgunj was converted to broad gauge two years after the Indian railways converted the track to Raxaul inside India to broad gauge. Now, broad gauge railway line connects Raxaul to the Sirsiya (Birgunj) Inland Container Depot (ICD) that became fully operational in 2005. Talks have been held to reopen the railway route from Birgunj to Amlekhganj in Nepal by converting it to broad gauge because of its socio-economic importance.
Goods are transported to and from India via Birgunj dry port, which is the key terminal of surface cargo delivery to Nepal. This cargo point on the south connects the heart of the country, Kathmandu, via another key industrial city, Hetauda. It is also served by Tribhuvan Highway, extending from the Indian border at Raxaul through Birgunj and Hetauda to Kathmandu with frequent bus service. Simara Airport — 9 mi (14 km) north near the highway in Pipara Simara, Bara district — offers scheduled flights to Kathmandu.
India and Nepal have an open border with no restrictions on the movement of their citizens. There is a customs checkpoint for the movement of goods and third country nationals.[clarification needed]
Places of interest
- Gadhimai Temple
- Parsa Wildlife Reserve
- Narayani Stadium
- Gahawa Mai Temple
- Bindwasini Mai Temple
- Bhiswa Hillock
- Shankaracharya Gate
- Vishwa Hindu Parishad Park(Shri Narshing Temple Pipra Math)
- Ghariarwa Pokhari
- Birta Mai Temple
- Shreeram Picture Palace
- Trimurti cinema
- Ida Baitha House
- Murli Masjid
The city has its own stadium, Narayani Stadium which is Nepal’s second largest stadium after Dasarath Rangasala. The stadium has capacity of 15000 seats. In recent times the stadium is in poor condition. A national level Cricket Ground is also located beside the Narayani Stadium. The cricket ground has top class outfield and a better Cricket Pitch. National level and Regional level cricket tournament are regularly held here. Every year day night T20 Cricket Tournament are held using temporary flood light towers. Day night Cricket match in Nepal was first played here.
The city is known as the cricket hub of Nepal and has Adarsh Nagar Stadium. Nepal national cricket team’s players Haseem Ansari, Aarif Sheikh Avinash Karn and Irshad Ahmedhail from Birgunj. Cricket is popular and is played more than any other games and sports.
Education was started in town with the establishment of Trijuddha School by Juddha Shumsher Jang Bahadur Rana during his regime.
Thakuram Multiple Campus is the first campus (outside Kathmandu valley) in town as well as in Narayani zone. This city has made a rapid development in the field of education by the establishment of many schools and colleges like GHP secondary school, Kadambari Academy, National Infotech college, Gurukul Academy, Gyanda Academy, Siddharth College, BPC College, Hari Khetan Campus, Gautam secondary school,Shri Narshingh Madhyamik Vidhalaya,etc. It has many commerce college and a medical college, National Medical College Birganj,The Himal Institute of Health Science, where students from all over Nepal and India come to study.
Birgunj has many FM Community radio stations including Narayani FM 103.8Mhz, Terai FM, Radio Birgunj, Bhojpuriya FM, Indreni FM, Radio Bindas, Birgunj Musical FM, City FM,Aawaz FM ,Public FM etc. It is covered by the local television station, Birgunj Television (BTV). Many local newspapers like Prateek, Loktimes Daily, Kripa, Bhojpuri Time, Jana Aawaz etc. are published. TEDxBirgunj was successfully held on 17 December, that was the first ever TED event of Terai region of Nepal.
Narayani Sub-regional Hospital is one of the oldest government hospitals of Nepal. National Medical College under TU and Kedia Dental College also under TU are two major institutions providing health facilities. There are many other big and small hospitals, and international standard diagnostic centres throughout the city such as Asharam Hospital, Gandak hospital, Advance Medicare Hospital, Kedia eye hospital, Bhawani Hospital,Mangalam Diagnostic Centre,Vision Diagnostic Private Limited etc. The area extending from Chhapakaiya ward No. 3 up to Hotel Makalu is full of private nursing homes and clinics. Mostly the people from village area of Parsa, Bara and Raxaul come here for check ups.
Ganesh Chaturthi, Holi, Teej, Krishan Janmasthami, Maha Shivratri, Durgapuja, Chhath, Dipawali, Eid are major festivals celebrated in Birgunj. Small proportion of the religious diversity of Birgunj is occupied by Buddhists. Thus Buddha Jayanti is also celebrated throughout the city. The culture of this city is not limited to religious diversity but ethnic diversity is found too. People of Madheshi ethnicity occupies greater portion of population which includes castes like Kandu, Gupta, Sah, Singh, Yadav, Mahato,Rauniyar etc. Marwari people who migrated from Rajasthan are also in great number involved in many economic sectors.