West Champaran District was carved out of the old Champaran District in the year 1972 as a result of re-organization of the District in the state. It was formerly a subdivision of Saran District and then Champaran District with its Head quarters as Bettiah. It is said that Bettiah got its name from Baint (Cane) plants commonly found in this district. The name Champaran is a degenerate form of Champaka aranya, a name which dates back to the time when the district was a tract of the forest of Champa (Magnolia) trees & was the abode of solitary asectics.
As per District Gazetteer, it seems probable that Champaran was occupied at an early period by races of Aryan descent and formed part of the country in which the Videha empire ruled. After the fall of Videhan empire the district formed part of the Vrijjain oligarchical republic with its capital at Vaishali of which Lichhavis were the most powerful and prominent. Ajatshatru the emperor of Magadh, by tact and force annexed Lichhavis and occupied its capital, Vaishali. He extended his sovereignty over Paschim Champaran which continued under the Mauryan rule for the next hundred years. After the Mauryas, the Sungas and Kanvas ruled over the Magadh territories. The district thereafter formed part of the Kushan empire and then came under Gupta empire. Along with Tirhut, Champaran was possibly annexed by Harsha during whose reign Huen- Tsang, the famous Chinese pilgrim, visited India. During 750 to 1155 AD , the Palas of Bengal were in the possession of Eastern India and Champaran formed the part of their territory. Towards the close of the 10th century Gangaya Deva of the Kalacheeri dynasty conquered Champaran .He was succeeded by Vikramaditya of the Chalukya dynasty.
During 1213 and 1227,the first Muslim influence was experienced when Ghyasuddin Iwaz the Muslim governor of Bengal extended his influence over Tribhukti or Tirhut .It was however, not a complete conquest and he was only able to have Tirhut from Narsinghdeva, a Simraon king.In about 1320, Ghyasuddin Tughlaq annexed Tirhut to the Tughlaq Empire and placed it under Kameshwar Thakur, who established Sugaon or Thakur dynasty. This dynasty continued to rule the area till Nasrat Shah, son of Allauddin Shah attacked Tirhut in 1530, annexed the territory,and killed the Raja and thus put an end to the Thakur dynasty. Nasrat Shah appointed his son-in-law as viceroy of Tirhut and thence forward the country continued to be ruled by the Muslim rulers. After the fall of Mughal Empire the British rulers came to power in India.
The history of the district during the late medieval period and the British period is linked with the history of Bettiah Raj. Bettiah Raj has been mentioned as a great estate. It traces its descent from one Ujjain Singh and his son, Gaj Singh, who received the title of Raja from the Emperor Shah Jahan(1628-58). The family came into prominence as independent chief in the 18th century during the downfall of the Mughal Empire. At the time when Sarkar Champaran passed under British rule, is was in the possession of Raja Jugal Kishore Singh, who succeeded Raja Dhurup Singh in 1763. The Raj was succeeded by the descendents of Raja Jugal kishore Singh. Harendra Kishore Singh, the last Maharaja of Bettiah, died in 1893, issueless and was succeeded by his first wife, who died in 1896. The estate came under the management of Court of Wards since 1897 and was held by the Maharaja’s junior widow, Maharani Janki Kuar.
The British Raj palace occupies a large area in the centre of the town. In 1910 at the request of Maharani, the palace was built after the plan of Graham’s palace in Calcutta. The Court Of Wards is at present holding the property of Bettiah Raj.
The rise of nationalism in Bettiah in early 20th century is intimately connected with indigo plantation. Raj Kumar Shukla, an ordinary raiyat and indigo cultivator of Champaran met Gandhijii and explained the plight of the cultivators and the atrocities of the planters on the raiyats. Gandhijii came to Champaran in 1917 and listened to the problems of the cultivators and the started the movement known as Champaran Satyagraha Movement to end the oppression of the British indigo planters. By 1918 the long standing misery of the indigo cultivators came to an end and Champaran became the hub of Indian National Freedom Movement and the launch pad of Gandhi’s Satyagraha.
WEST CHAMPARAN DISTRICT AT A GLANCE
Location on global Map between 26°16′ and 27°31′ north latitude and 83°50′ and 85°18′ east longitude.
- District Map
North :- Hilly region of Nepal
South :- Gopalganj & part of Purbi Champaran District
East :- Purbi champaran District
West :- Padrauna & Deoria District of Uttar Pradesh
Total Area of the District :- 5228 Sq. Kms.
As the district has its border with Nepal, it has an international importance. The international border is open with five blocks of the district, namely, Bagaha-II, Ramnagar, Gaunaha, Mainatand & Sikta, extending from north-west corner to south-east covering a distance of 35 Kms.
District Headquarters :- Bettiah
Distance of Bettiah from Patna :- 210 Kms. (By road)
Police Districts under West Champaran :- 1. Bettiah 2. Bagaha
Subdivisions under West Champaran :- 1. Bettiah 2. Narkatiyaganj 3. Bagaha
No. of Development Blocks :- 18
No. of Panchayats :- 315
No. of Villages :- 1483
Total Length of the Railways tracks within the district :-220Kms
This district has a literacy rate of 39.63%. There are a few schools in the district which are amongst the best in North Bihar.
No. of Govt. Primary Schools : 1340
No. of Middle Schools : 284
No. of High Schools : 68 (including Minority and Project Schools)
No. of constituent Colleges : 3
Industrial Training Institute : 1
Agriculture is the main source of income of the people in West Champaran. Some agro-based industries have flourished here and are being run successfully. Sugar mills are established at Majhaulia, Bagaha, Ramnagar, Narkatiaganj, Chanpatia and Lauria. The last two units are closed at present. Some rice mills are also being run successfully and the produce is being marketed to different places outside the district. Cottage industries based on local available natural and agricultural produce catering the local needs such as Gur (raw-sugar), basket, rope, mat weaving etc are also popular.
Land use pattern
Mainly three types of crops are produced in this district – Bhadai (Autumn crop), Aghani (Kharif) and Rabbi (Spring crop). Bhadai crops comprise mainly Maize and Sugarcane. The main crops of Aghani season are paddy, potato etc. Wheat, Barley, Arhar (Cajamus indicus) are main Rabbi crops. Main crops of the low lying land in northern region of the district is paddy. Land use pattern figures are as follows:-
Total Area of the district – 11,96,819 Acre
Forest land – 2,26,790 Acre
Agricultural land – 5,15,097 Acre
Non-agricultural land – 68,283 Acre
Land under water – 1,73,078 Acre
Homestead Land – 1,84,764 Acre
The District is divided into few distinct tracts. The first consists of the hilly tract of Someswar and Dun range in the north at the foot hills of Himalayas. It is noticeable that the soil even at the foot of the hills has no rocky formation and wherever water can be impounded,a rich growth of crop is possible. The hilly streams, however, play havoc by bringing down huge quantities of sand & destroying cultivable lands. The hills contain large stretches of forests.
Next to the hilly area comes the Terai region which is largely populated by Tharus of the District.
The Terai region is followed by fertile plains occupying the rest of the district. This plain itself is divided into two well defined tracts by the little Gandak and have markedly distinct characteristics. The northern portion is composed of old alluvium & has a considerable area of low land. It is traversed by a number of streams flowing southwards. The southern portion of the tract is characterized by stretches of upland varied in places by large marshy depressions known as chaurs.
The Gandak or Narayani and Sikrahana or little Gandak are the two important rivers of this district.
The climate of the district is cooler & damper than the adjoining districts. The terai area comprising mainly Ramnagar, Bagaha & Narkatiaganj is considered unhealthy while all other area have a healthy climate. Winter begins in November and lasts till Feburary, followed by hot summer months when temperature rises to maximum 43° Celsius. Rains set in during the later part of June. The district receives some winter rain also.
The district still lags behind in having sufficient communication linkage by metalled roads within its territory. National Highway 28 B cris-crosses this district. While it is well connected with the State capital by road.
The railways were introduced in 1888 when Bettiah was linked with Muzaffarpur. The line was extended subsequently to Bhikna Thori on the Indo-Nepal Border. A line also runs from Narkatiaganj to Bairgania vai Raxaul. The construction of Chhitauni Rail Bridge has resulted in a direct link of the district with Gorakhpur, Lucknow, Delhi, and Mumbai by train.
Bettiah and Valmikinagar have small airports with facility for landing of small planes. The airport at Valmiki Nagar is metalled.
Flora & Fauna
The district has suffered large scale denudation of forests. Forests are confined to the northern tract & particularly the Sumeswar & the Dun ranges are covered with forests. Sal, Sisam, Tun & Khair are among the trees found in this region. In terai region clumbs of bamboo, sabai grass & narkat reed are found in abundance.
The types of animals available in the forests of the district are tiger, leopard, panther wild pig, nilgai, monkeys(both red and black faced), bear, dear, sambhar, bison, wolves & wild goats.
Three types of quails of the Amazonian species are seen in the district. They are the bustard quails, button quails & the little button quails. Brown fly-catchers, the grey shrike, olive green birds and various types of mynas are found here.
The rehu, naini, katla, tengra, buail, sauri and barari are the big fish varieties found in the bigger rivers & lakes of the district. Snakes are quite common & crocodiles & alligators are sometimes found in the larger river.
Tirhut, Tribeni and Done canals are the most prominent canals operating in this district. They get their water supply from the Gandak river at Balmikinager, the northern most part of the district bordering Nepal.
This district depends a lot on livestock for cultivation. The plough cattle are bred locally. There are many fine well-conditioned bullocks seen in the district particularly the cart bullock . Buffaloes are main source of milk . They are generally of small type but in fairly good condition.
Mines & Minerals
The Dun & Sumeswar hills in the extreme north which are the continuation of Shivalik range are formed of ill compacted sandstone. There are beds of Kankar (sandstone) in parts of the district & saltpetre is found almost everywhere.
Rainfall is heavier than most of the districts & is especially heavy in the terai region. The normal annual rainfall is about 56″.
Trade & Commerce
The rich forests of the district have opened the doors of a flourishing trade in timber. The district borders Nepal on the north over a long stretch of land. There are some road routes also connecting the district with Nepal. Naturally, therefore, a good bulk of the Indo Nepal trade is carried on through the district. Nepalese rice, timber and spices are imported into India while textiles, petroleum products etc. are exported into Nepal through the district. The chief trade centres are Bagaha, Bettiah, Chanpatia & Narkatiaganj.