At the east of Nepal, right at the foot of hills, located in the Sunsari district at an altitude of 1148 ft (349m) lies this beautiful city, Dharan. It is linked by road with the East-West highway of Nepal and can be reached by two hours drive from Biratnagar. Beautiful roads, remarkable homes and natural beauty aren’t all that makes Dharan. It embraces cleanliness, openness, friendly hill people and their smiles. Dharan grew after British setup the `Gurkha Recruitment Center’ in 1953, which helped many Nepalese earn employment. Two ethnic groups namely Rais and Limbus used to constitute the major portion of Gurkah soldiers. These groups came from the eastern region of Nepal, and Dharan was their center for training.
Due to immigration from the hilly region and all over Nepal, Dharan now however, has people from other ethnicities like Rai, Newar, Brahman, Chetris, Tamang, etc., can be found here, making Dharan a multi-lingual community with different languages and various dialects spoken. However, Nepali is the official and common language.
Dharan has a tropical monsoon climate with maximum temperature of 35 to 36 Degree Celsius in April, and minimum of 10 to 12 Degree Celsius in January. Nepal’s one of the largest river, Saptakoshi, runs near Dharan.
It is known for having B. P. Koirala Institute of Health and Science; one of the biggest government hospitals, over 25 Temples and holy sites like Pindeshwar temple, Dantakali temple, Pancha Kanyan temple, Buddha Subba temple etc., making it an important pilgrimage destination. It is the gateway to beautiful tourist attractions of the eastern hills of the country: Dhankutta, Taplejung, Kumbhakarna Himal, Kanchenjunga, Makalu-Varun National Park, Arun Valley, Tinjure-Milke (Rhododendron Protection Area), Gupha Lake, Hyatrung Fall, and Sabha Pokhari. These too add to Dharan’s importance as a tourist center and it is also the gateway to Nepal’s popular tea growing region `Dhankuta’.
Dharan is a town of having full potential in tourism development. It’s a tourist center of the eastern part of the country as it is the gateway to the eastern hilly districts such as Dhankuta, Bhojpur, Terathum. It’s a meeting point of mountainous region and the Terai plains. The geographical location, climate, religious shrines, places of tourist importance, and places of religious and historical values make Dharan an important destination of national and international tourists.
Other interesting point in Dharan is the Bhedetar (Charles Point) which is located 9 Kilometer away where the British Prince Charles had climbed. There’s even a Charles tower on the peak, from where you can have a panoramic view of the fort, hills, waterfalls, and forests. On a clear day (especially during autumn season), you can see far down the tarai, and high into the east Himalayan range. You can hike up or drive up the winding road, and the peak is a cool getaway on the hottest summer’s day.
Different castes, creeds, ethnic groups and their traditional cultures and life-styles too add to Dharan’s importance as the tourist center. Lakhe naach and Gai jatra of Newar people, Dhan naach of Limbus, Chandi naach of Rai people, Selo of Tamangs, Rodighar of Gurungs, Baalan and Sangini of Brahmin and Chhetris are other attractions of Dharan.
Things to do in Dharan
Dhankuta / Hile – Tea Gardens and Bazaar
From Dharan, about 50 Kilometers of what is the most scenic drive in Nepal takes you to a place where your imaginations of greenery gardens are revealed. Some say, come to Dhankuta, if you want to walk in the clouds. Meet the clouds, village folks, and greet the awesome enchanting tea gardens here, and learn some on organic tea and tea processing units in Nepal. If you are a tea lover, you will enjoy visiting a privately owned tea garden and factory. Also visit Hile, a hill town situated at 1850m altitude, which is just 6 Km from Dhankuta for the Hile Bazaar and gracious people.
Hiking : Basantapur
This hill is located about 90 km from Dharan, and about 1 km from Hile. It is the starting point for trekking to Kanchanjunga Base Camp. Beyond the hill, beautiful forests Rhododendrons can be seen.
Hiking : Raja Rani Hill
Excellent spot to view Kanchenjunga, Khumbakarna, Makalu and Mt. Everest. This hill is located 20 km from Dharan
Dharan bazar itself is admittedly not terribly beautiful, but in addition to Bhedetar and Raja Rani hill, it’s a great starting point for short hikes and longer treks. If you have a couple of extra days, a visit to Basantapur, the starting point for the tough Kangchenjunga base camp trek, or the lovely village of Hile near Dhankuta, are great add-ons to a Dharan visit.