The south-central town of Bhairawa, near the Nepal–India border, is the gateway to the Buddhist pilgrimage site of Lumbini, the birthplace of Siddhartha Gautama. The local airport Gautam Buddha Airport is also named in honor of Buddha. Some time ago, the city was renamed Siddharthanagara in honor of Lord Buddha’s childhood name, but it is still known as Bhairava.
Bhairawa is home to people of various ethnic backgrounds and in addition to their local language Bhojpuri and the national language Nepali, many of the city’s residents speak English. Being only three kilometers from the Indian border, Bhairawa is a convenient and popular shopping center for Nepalis and their Indian neighbors and the town serves as a trade and commerce center for the busy Nepali-Indian import-export trade. Bhairahawa has many good schools, which attract students from other parts of Nepal. Lumbini District Hospital and UCMS Medical College are also located in Bhairahawa. Although the majority of the citizens of Bhairava are Hindus, there are Buddhists, Christians and Muslims living together.
Apart from being the economic hub of Rupandehi district, the city is geared towards tourism, with accommodation options ranging from luxury to budget. The most common and most convenient way to travel through Bhairava’s sometimes congested streets is by rickshaw – and rickshaws abound, with drivers competing fiercely for passengers.
Bhairava’s three main roads form a triangle with the border highway on the east, Narayanapath Street on the west and Bank Street on the south, both of which encompass a large market of shopper’s dreams. Hotel Yeti serves as a famous landmark and buses and taxi-jeeps arrive and depart from here to other parts of Nepal including Sonauli and Lumbini in India.
A visit to Bhairawa will provide tourists with an opportunity to learn about various aspects of Nepal’s daily life, meet people from different ethnic backgrounds and enjoy the beauty of the surrounding countryside.