"Jhapa, the southeasternmost district of Nepal" Jhapa by Saagar

Jhapa Travel Guide: 10 reviews and 5 photos

Jhapa - tropical Nepal

Jhapa is in some ways the most exotic place in Nepal. Three countries meet up here; on two sides of Jhapa is India, and a narrow corridor of India separates Nepal and Bangladesh, and Bhutan isn't far away, either. The population is quite an exotic mix, too, with Santals as perhaps the most interesting group compared to other parts of Nepal. Politically, it is known as a hotbed, and settelment politics in the early days of Nepal made this district a masala of people and till today upsets social and political relations.

The vegetation is lush, with a mix of the open Terai sal forest, palm trees lining canals and creeks and more dense, tropical vegetation interspersed with extensive tea gardens.

Most foreign travellers to Jhapa either visits as aid workers or tourists in transit to Bhutan, Darjeeling or Assam. Jhapa is host to some big Bhutanese refugee camps. The Kakarvitta border post here is the last piece of Nepal before Darjeeling and the east; Siliguri is the first major town in India, with connections in all directions. Jhapa is the district south of the tea hills of Ilam and Panchtar. You can also get from here to the Kanchenjunga area if you do not want to fly into Taplejung. It's a curvy road first, then bumpy the second half befores you reach Taplejung.

There are a few cities of note in Jhapa, most prominent are Birtamode and Damak. Kakarvitta/Kakarbhitta is the border town with India, and Chandragadhi is the airport town (Bhadrapur). The East-West Highway transects the district and for every north-south connection there is a small town where you can get something to eat, drink and road transport services. The small town of Charali is a likely town to stop if you head into the hills toward Ilam, and you will find some small - and good - eateries, as well as travel agencies (proximity to the airport, only 8 km away south from the E-W Highway), and if in dire need, one of Nepal's two snake hospitals. The latter is a sign of a prominent type of wildlife!

What to do in Jhapa

Contemplate the beauty of the flat agricultural landscape below the green hills of Ilam, and the peoples' lives here.
Fantastic people-watching: you have the widest assortment of peoples on display here; being tillers of the soil, labourers in the bazaars, travellers to/from India, pot-bellied Indian babus, slim Santals, Tharus, Biharis and Bengalis, all the Hills ethnic groups and just about everybody else.
See the tea gardens here. A tour of the estates can be organized, and looking is free if you walk along the tea plantations anyway. Shopping; the bazaars here have a lot of stuff for sale to bus travellers and locals; much crookery and what not from India. For the international backpacker the bazaar will have limited scope apart from photograpy - very nice and colorful.
Be humble in Jhapa; this is not a rich part of the world and rampant poverty is at first hand here. With that comes that particular spillover from Bihar and West Bengal/India - casteism and dacoitry/banditry - rife here in the east, mainly as cross-border raids. Beware of safety at night.

Jhapa in Transit

Transit; most people are in a hurry to get on with their travel; Jhapa's main bazaars are not relaxed rural affairs, but catering to transit passengers. They are loud and dusty. Tickets, porters, last minute shopping, shouting and banging transport wallahs of all kinds.
The East-West highway intersects Jhapa. At the eastern end is Kakarvitta, the border crossing into India. 11 km or so from Kakarvitta, 3 km south of the EW highway is the town Chandragadhi and the Bhadrapur settlement with the easternmost airport in Nepal. No other border crossing is open for foreigners.
From the Indian side you can catch a bus or a combination of bus/train via Siliguri to Darjeeling, or generally connect to the indian railway network. With a guide it is easy to get across the Indian corridor to the Bangladesh border and continue toward Dhaka.

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:A very interesting and colorful place to visit.
  • Cons:Maybe you wouldn't like to live here...
  • In a nutshell:A colorful tropical mix of people, livelihoods and sceneries, but little for a discerning tourist to linger too long for.
  • Last visit to Jhapa: Nov 2010
  • Intro Updated Nov 12, 2011
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