Come Learn about Chitwan’s Original Residents
- 10 Minutes Walk from Sauraha in Bachhauli Village (Map below)
- Near Chitwan National Park
- First Community Museum in Nepal — and Run by Tharu
Trip Advisor Reviews
Great Introduction to Tharu History and Culture. Not to be missed. Guidebooks have outdated info about this small Tharu run museum. There are murals, statues and a new exhibit of large historical photos, with info written by anthropologists and historians. Covers topics like hunting, but also the US led development of the valley in the 1950s and 1960s.Will change your entire view of Chitwan. –Peter
A Must Visit Place to understand Chitwan! Amazing collection of Tharu life style and culture. An anthropological treat while enjoying the wildlife in Chitwan. Helps you understand the people and their connection with the place. –Shashank
Who are the Tharu?
The Tharu are one of Nepal’s largest and most marginalized ethnic groups. They outnumber Gurungs, Limbus, and Newars.
The Tharu are the original inhabitants of much of the tarai because they could withstand the region’s deadly malaria better than hill people and people from the plains. The U.S./WHO malaria eradication project in the late 1950s and 1960s changed their lives dramatically. In Chitwan, in 1955, the Tharu (and related groups such as the Darai) formed almost 100% of the population. By 1970, Tharu were only 14% of the population because of the in-migration of hill people.
The national park, established in 1973, also changed Tharu lives in important and complicated ways.
“The Tharu have responded in numerous ways to the challenges posed by the social and economic transformation of the Chitwan valley. They are acutely aware that their culture is being transformed through the influence of both Nepali hill culture and Indian plains culture. Some Tharu welcome these changes, which they view as positive. Others deplore them.”
Dr. Arjun Guneratne,“The Tharu of Chitwan, Nepal,” in Disappearing Peoples?, 2007.
Did You Know?
- The U.S. government ran a big project in Chitwan in the 1950s and 1960s. It changed the Chitwan valley forever.
- Numbering 1.5 million, Tharu are Nepal’s 4th or 5th largest group. Roughly, 5% of Nepalis are Tharu. 1 in every 20 Nepalis is Tharu.
Common Misconceptions About the Tharu
- Misconception 1: The Tharu Were Hunters
- Truth: Tharu were farmers who fished but didn’t hunt.
- Misconception 2: The Tharu Lived in an Ancient Tarai Forest
- Truth: Tharu lived near the forest but not in it, and the forest sometimes spread and sometimes disappeared.
- Misconception 3: Tharu Were Uncivilized, Jungali
- Truth: The Tharu Made Ingenious Adaptations to their Tarai Environment
- Misconception 4: The Tharu Never Got Malaria
- Truth: Tharu got malaria less often than other groups, and died less often than others, but Tharu children often got malaria, and some died.
- Misconception 5: Tharu Lived Outside of History and Isolated from Nepali Society
- Truth: Like all groups, Tharu society is always changing. Despite the malaria in the tarai, Tharu groups had many interactions with other groups and the Kathmandu government.