With a name derived from a temple, and the first township in Nepal to receive urban planning, Rajbiraj had a lot of promise to develop into a modern hub of Nepal.
Unfortunately, due to the construction of the east-west highway which completely bypassed Rajbiraj, its development took a back seat, while the cities of Birgunj and Biratnagar surged ahead.
However, don’t underestimate Rajbiraj to the city it was eons ago. Even though the city is less than a century old, it is equipped with infrastructures like schools, hospitals and transportation facilities. Furthermore, Hindus, Muslims and Jains live in religious harmony here. Rajbiraj and its periphery is renowned for its many Hindu temples. The headquarter for Rajbiraj was actually Hanumannagar. Unfortunately, when the Saptakoshi River flooded, it swept away a portion of Hanumannagar’s land, which prompted the shift of the capital city in 1996.
Rajbiraj is the first city of Nepal to undergo urban planning.
It’s name is derived from the Rajdevi Temple, which dates back to the 8th century A.D.
Rajbiraj is the headquarters of Saptari and is located in Province 2 of Nepal. It was the first town of Nepal's terai to equipped with an airport facility.
Located about 10 km from Rajbiraj is the Chinnamasta Bhagawati Temple, which is a Shakti Peetha. Legend has it that a King named Nanyadeva built the temple when he found the statue of goddess Bhagwati when he was clearing the forest. When you go inside the temple, you can find a statue of Goddess Sakhada Devi with the dead devil underneath her foot. The temple is surrounded by three types of Koshi River, two types of Tri-yuga and two types of rapid rivers.
Less than 15km from Rajbiraj is the Hanuman Nagar. This municipality is named after a rare child Hanuman statue that is black in colour. The management committee if the temple proudly promote the location as “The world’s one and only Black Hanuman.” Besides the statue of Hanuman, you will also find statues of Lord Ganesh and Lord Shiva. It’s best to visit the Hanuman Nagar during Ram Nawami where a carnival is held. People visit the temple every Tuesday and Saturday to get their wishes fulfilled. The temple priest even experienced a pilgrim who once served Hanuman a 50 kg laddu.
About 40 km from Rajbiraj is the Salhesh Fulbari (Salhesh Garden). A curious fact about this garden is that there is an orchid that only blooms on the eve and first day of the Nepali new year. There are even claims that the leaves of the orchid never falls on the ground. The garden is named after Salhesh, a demigod who is regarded as a folk hero. The orchid is a token of love between the demigod and his beloved Malini. The only time visitors are allowed in the garden is on the Nepali new year. On other days, wild animals roam around the garden.
The resident deity of Shambhuanath Temple is Lord Shiva. As there is a month long funfair during the Nepali month of Baishakh, people usually visit during this time. The Shivalinga inside the temple premise is six foot tall and was believed to be growing until it stopped. Locals sacrifice goats and pigeons once their wishes are fulfilled, and some even offer brinjals to get rid of warts.
Another temple to visit while in Nepal is Kankalini Temple, which is about 19 kms from Rajbiraj. This temple is a Shakti Peetha. When people were establishing a village in Bhardaha, they chanced upon a stone statue of Durga and built the temple in her honour. A devotee who prays with great devotion is said to get his/her wishes fulfilled. The temple is usually visited during Dashain - a major Hindu festival.
Fish is a major indulgence of the people of Rajbiraj due to the proximity to the rivers. In fact, no wedding or festival is complete without fish dishes. Along with fish curry, rice is moulded into different shapes to make Dhikari. People here do not consume as much meat, but are known to cook duck and pigeon meat. Vegetables and dairy products are plenty. A fresh yoghurt is enjoyed as it cools off the heat and also aids in digestion.
You can even find crispy and freshly made pokaras - which are best enjoyed hot out of the oil and dipped in chutney.
About 80km from Rajbiraj is Baraha Kshetra, which is located on the confluence of the Koka and Koshi rivers. This place is mentioned in the Hindu epic Mahabharata and also mentioned in the Puranas. Therefore, it is an important pilgrimage site for eastern Nepal. The temple was rebuilt after an earthquake. Pilgrims visit the temple year round, but a special fair is organised during the festivals of Kartik Purnima and Makar Sankranti.
Barahachhertra is one of the 4 chhetra mentioned in the Hindu mythology. The major 12-year Kumbh Mela also takes place here.
About 53 km from Rajbiraj is Gaighat, which is the headquarter of Udayapur. Gaighat is inhabited by Tharus and Danuwars with the Triyuga River flowing through. You can even get a splendid view of the Himalayas and the plains from Gaighat. There has been an increase in internal tourism to places like Dahar, Ranibas, Saunne and Rauta Pokhari. You can even go to Haleshi Dham from Gaighat.
About 50 km from Rajbiraj is the Koshi Tappu Wildlife Reserve and is the first Ramsar site of Nepal that was designated in 1987. Some of the unique species found in this wildlife reserve are the wild water buffaloes known as “Arna”, the Gangetic dolphin and fish species. The area is a haven for migratory birds and Koshi Tappu is also an Important Bird Areas of Nepal.
The Mithila culture is a huge influence at Rajbiraj. People usually dress in bright poppy colours. People usually speak Maithili and Nepali.
Due to the sweltering heat, people here wear light cotton clothes during spring and summer.
Since most of the people are Hindus, festivals like Dashain and Tihar are celebrated with much pomp.
Buddha Air will have daily flight between Kathmandu and Rajbiraj from February 2020.
Rajbiraj Airport is the sole domestic airport in Saptari district, Nepal.
The distance from Kathmandu to Rajbiraj is about 295 km, and it takes over 7 hours car ride to reach Rajbiraj from Kathmandu.
Fortunately, with the flight from Kathmandu to Rajbiraj, the travel time is greatly reduced. With Buddha Air’s direct flight from Kathmandu to Rajbiraj, it only takes 35 minutes.