Bhairahawa -- spelling variation Bhairawa and also known as Siddharthanagar -- is a pleasant city of about 70,000 people on the Terai plains of Nepal. It is 265 km. (165 miles) west of the capital Kathmandu and three kilometers north of the Indian border at Sunauli.
Bhairahawa is the main travel gateway to the Buddhist pilgrim's circuit of Lumbini, Kapilvastu and Kathmandu). Hindu pilgrims also enter Nepal here on pilgrimages to Kathmandu's Pashupatinath. Bhairahawa is also a gateway to Nepal for overland travelers and backpackers heading for jungle and mountain treks, river rafting and other adventures.
Climate: Summer temperatures reach 35 to 38 Celsius (95-100 fahrenheit). Winter temperatures are 9 to 23 Celsius (48-73 fahrenheit). Monsoon rains usually start in June and continue into September.
Bhairahawa's airport (IATA: BWA, ICAO: VNBW) is one of Nepal's busiest. The official name is Gautam Buddha Airport. Flights from Kathmandu take 45 minutes and cost about $200 for foreigners or $115 for nationals. 160 NRs airport tax applies to all domestic flights. Carriers include Buddha Air and Yeti Air.
From Kathmandu via Bharatpur -- also called Narayangarh or Narayanghat -- and Butwal. 7 - 10 hours.
From Sauraha (Chitwan Jungle) Take local bus or jeep to Tadi Bazaar then intercity micro-bus/bus via Bharatpur and Butwal. Road is very good. 4-5 hours.
From Delhi to Gorakhpur. A broad gauge track goes to Nautanwa from Gorakhpur but trains are infrequent so travelers may prefer to hire a taxi directly to Sunauli, taking about two hours. Or from Nautanwa take a taxi, bus or rickshaw to Sunauli (about 5 kilometers). Cross the border to Belahiya, Nepal and immigration formalities. Then take a bus, taxi or rickshaw on to Bhairahawa (3 km.). Total time approximately 12 - 18 hours.
Rickshaws are a good option within the city, or walking. Expect to pay about 2 rupees per minute, depending on how many people you are or if you have a lot of cargo.
Un-metered taxis are now common at the major intersections as well but prepare to bargain hard.
Bicycles are an excellent way to tour the area.
Lumbini Garden -- 22 klometers from Bhairahawa, the sacred birthplace of Lord Buddha. The garden extends one kilometer east-west and 4 kilometers north-south with monasteries representing over twenty nations. There are abundant birds and even some wildlife.
Devedaha -- 15 km. northeast of Bhairahawa near the village of Khairhani, has archeological mounds associated with the Koliyas, the maternal tribe of the Buddha.
Ramagram 20 kilometers due east from Bhairahawa and 4 km south of the town of Parasi in Nawalparasi district. The remains of a stupa and monastery lie on the banks of the Jahari river near Kerwani village. The large stupa mound is about 30 ft high and 70 ft in diameter. Some have suggested that this was the center of the the Koliya Kingdom. The Koliyas of Ramagram are listed among the eight tribes that received the corporeal relics of the Buddha at Kushinagar. A Japanese funded memorial is located just to the west of the oxbow lake and a monastery is also planned. The all weather road to Ramgram is mostly unpaved and bumpy but passes through wonderful rural village scenes.
Kapilvastu is the name of an ancient Kingdom of the Shakyas -- the royal family of of Lord Buddha. It is an important part of the Buddhist Pilgrimage Circuit. Taulihawa -- administrative center of modern Kapilvastu District -- lies 40 kilometers west of Bhairahawa or 18 kilometers from Lumbini. Many ancient archaeological sites are situated within 10 kilometers of Taulihawa. Local roads are in good condition.
Tribeni Ghat -- a small and picturesque village by the Narayani River (known as the Gandak in India) and just across from Chitwan National Park. An important historical, religious and cultural area due to the presence of the ancient Valmiki Ashram across the river and the auspiciousness of bathing at the ghats on the first day of Magh (approximately 15 January). Hundreds of thousands of Hindu pilgrims come to bathe on this holiday. Cross the river here to visit Valmiki which is believed to be where Prince Siddhartha got down from his horse Kantaka and strode off on foot and into the jungles in his search for answers.
- Village Tours. Several tour guide companies offer village tours, especially around Lumbini. However you can safely walk, bike, motorbike in villages in this area in daytime, unguided.
- Bird Watching. In winter, local farmland is a mosaic of different crops and stubbles, marshes, irrigation channels, streams and ponds. Away from towns, scattered small villages often have large old trees used by roosting vultures and large water birds. Especially try wetland grassland areas north of Lumbini called Khadara Phanta, particularly good for seeing the endangered Sarus Crane. Jagdishpur Reservoir is another important bird area in Kapilvastu District about 40 km NW of Lumbini.
- Terai Trekking. A flatland version of mountain trekking. First performed in 1991 by two Peace Corps volunteers who walked from Bhairawaha, to Trivenighat, and on to Chitwan, some 70 kilometers in three days via existing back roads, farm lands, forests and footpaths. It was their way of attempting to walk a Buddhist Via Dolorosa if you like, the path taken by Siddhartha who renounced his princely life at Tilaurakot and then walked and rode his steed Kantaka east into the jungles. Other versions could be day walks from Bhairahawa to Lumbini and catching the bus back.
- Palpali Brass. Search the bazaar for good deals on brassware such as kuruwa's diwas and statuary still produced in Palpa (Tansen in the hills north of Bhairahawa.
- Dokiya -- Small round baskets with beautiful colors and designs woven from rice straw by local women. There is no established market for these, so don't forget to add a tip if they sell cheaply!
- Haat Bazaar -- Bhairahawa has one of the best weekly bazaars. If it walks, talks, squeaks or squawks it can be found here. They are held Thursdays and Sundays, becoming active around 11AM or noon and continuihng until dark. Located about 300 meters south from Pawan Hotel, off Paklihawa Road, next to the CDO's (chief district officer) office.
- Locally-famous Kasturi Pure Vegetarian Restaurant closed in 2001, but the head chef only crossed the street to Pawan Hotel (see above).
- Pawan Mistan Bandar (sweet shop) located in front of Pawan Hotel has a wide selection of sweets, dahi (yogurt) and paneer. You can also get South Indian fixed meals, puri subji breakfasts, and other Indian meals and snack there.
- Also see Hotels Shambala, Lumbini Pagoda, Shantanu and Yeti, above.
- Hotel Glasgow, Siddharthanagar Bhairahawa, ☎ 00977-71-523737.
- Hotel Everest (071-520317), on Bank Rd, has good, clean, modern rooms for NRs. 600/800. They often give a discount.
- Hotel Shambala (071- 21837, 071-520167), Bank Rd, has rooms with common bath for NRs. 350, with private bath for NRs. 450/550, and with air-coolers and hot water for NRs. 1200/1400. Restaurant serves South Asian and Chinese food. One of the few restaurants serving ice cream in the hot summer.
- Hotel Lumbini Pagoda (071 -521837), just beside the new Bus Park and half a km south of Bank Street has a very nice garden with rooms starting at 400 NRs. Nice restaurant and serves in the garden as well.
- Hotel Nansc, just opened in 2011, in Bhairahawa and Oh Ho, the first with a swimming pool! Nearly Olympic size! Located just south of Devkota Chowk- Sunauli Road. Phone: 071 524701, 524421, 524376 Email: email@example.com. Very fine Indian and continental restaurant, meeting facilities. Expect to pay a lot for a room there.
- Hotel Pawan one of the newer hotel entrants and located on Narayana Path 50 meters south of Bank Road intersection. It has clean rooms for $25/30 and $35/40 with A/C. They often give a discount. It has a excellent restaurant run by the chef of the former Kasturi Pure Vegetarian Restaurant serving Indian, tandoori, Chinese and some continental. Dishes begin around 60 NRs. If you ask politely they may even make you a non-menu treat the Kasturi Special Pulau.
- Hotel Shantanu (071- 521545), 1/2 km north of Bank Street has clean rooms for $15/$20 USD and $20/25 for A/C. The restaurant serves good Indian, Chinese and some continental fare.
- Hotel Yeti (071 - 520551; fax 071- 520893), New Road and Parasi Road, one of the oldest hotels but is a well-managed/well maintained place that has comfortable rooms for $25/30 and $35/40 with A/C. They often give a discount. Being on one of the main cross roads, so it can be noisy in the early morning. It has a very good restaurant that serves Indian vegetarian and tandoori, Chinese and some continental.
- Hotel Himalaya Inn (071- 520347; fax 071-521540), on New Road/By Pass Road, one of the oldest hotels in Bhairhawa is a bit run down with rooms with A/C and bath for $20/24. They often give a discount.
- Hotel Nirvana (About .5 km southwest of Hotel Pawan, on Paklihawa Rd), ☎ 071-520837, fax: 071-521262, e-mail: sales(at)nirvana.com.np. An upscale, three-star hotel with lovely gardens and Newari architecture. It has clean, A/C rooms for $50/60.
- Shree Pashupati Lodge, Narayana Path, about a 10-minute walk from the Bhairahawa bus stand, is a recommended budget place with rooms for $2.
- Summerland Resort Hotel, Ward #3 Manigram (12 kilometers directly north of Bhairahawa). It's a bit out of the way but it's got a big swimming pool!