West Champaran: 200 Kilometres From Patna Lies A Lesser Known Heaven

I am extremely disappointed that a place as amazing as this one is hidden away from the public eye. Thus, I have decided that it’s time to raise awareness among people about this heaven less known about!

Lesser Known Facts About West Champaran District, Bihar

During my holidays I decided to dwell deeper and research further into a place shielded from the popular eye. I landed in the West Champaran District of Bihar (around 200 km from Patna). I’m sure that you must be familiar with the term ‘Champaran Satyagraha; the first movement towards India’s freedom struggle started from the Champaran District of Bihar which ascertained the title “Mahatma” to Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi. In the year 1917, Mahatma Gandhi and Dr Rajendra Prasad among others, visited the place and launched the Satyagraha Movement.

The place where Gandhiji and Dr Rajendra Prasad engraved the foundation for the Satyagraha Movement.

During their visit to Champaran, Mahatma Gandhi and Dr Rajendra Prasad among others lived in Hazarimal Dharamshala where the foundation for Satyagraha Movement was laid. The place is said to be the residence of a person named Hazarimal who invited them to stay in their residence, to hide from the British and plan for a successful movement.

The Present Status – From Indigo Cultivation To A Slower Growth

Champaran is located in the northern part of India and shares its international borders with Nepal. The quality of indigo in this land was high and heavily demanded by the British. But the farmers were reluctant to cultivate the same, as once Indigo is cultivated, it damages the land and extracts its minerals which result in loss of fertility, thus ensuring no further plantation of cash crops, let alone livelihood crops. Even after 73 years of Independence, there is slow growth in West Champaran district. Though the area regained its fertility after long, the place couldn’t grow much. The highlighted reasons were the destruction caused by the British and the ignorance of governing bodies.

A Little Heaven 200 Kms From Patna

Besides all the history, the West Champaran district is a beautiful destination for nature lovers. The area covers a large village and is surrounded by forests. Popular destinations include Valmiki Nagar Tiger Reserve (surrounded by mountains, forests and shares borders with Nepal) and Thori (another forested and mountain area). The best part about this place is that the development era couldn’t hamper nature’s lap. The district includes the one major city Bettiah (district headquarters) and 3 towns including Bagaha, Narkatiaganj and Ramnagar. The most favoured Bihar tourism destination was also the land of Valmiki and his ashram where Sita is said to have resided with her sons Luv and Kush. So, the next time you plan to visit Patna, don’t forget to visit Champaran because words can only make you imagine and you need to see it to believe its beauty!

Surrounding Areas

When you look at the educational data, you may have a questionable opinion on the place as it lies at the bottom of the list. The major reason is proximity; it takes a lot of time for trends to penetrate the district. The district has been largely ignored by the governing bodies. The channels or networks arriving from Central Bihar to Champaran boast of a long, exhausting journey compiled with several breaks. The funds were never allocated properly, however, these days the district is getting attention due to the satyagraha movement. Most of the people in Bihar are not yet aware of the qualities of this place, they look at the data but don’t talk about the problems and the reasons behind it.

The Need Of Development

Most of the areas in West Champaran are either mid-town or rural areas; as the system lacked funding, efforts were not made by the local bodies. The people in such villages need awareness about the importance of education. However, a lack of education doesn’t affect the people’s hearts in West Champaran as they have distinct moral values, logical thinking and understanding. Formal education never teaches us moral values or understanding, but these virtues make their lives smoother. Sadly, I have seen the opposite scenario in the areas with higher education. People have knowledge, but seem to have lesser moral values and understanding. Knowledge with pride and no moral values cannot make a beautiful life. I am not against formal education, rather supportive of the importance of moral values and understanding as I feel it is diminished in the developing areas.

This article travelled from the history of independent India to the actual insights of West Champaran district of Bihar and I have tried my level best to give the actual introduction of what West Champaran is, as very few people actually know the truth behind it. I have tried to raise awareness about this heavenly place, and focus on tourism. For me, West Champaran has a great package of memories which I can’t describe. I found a gem of virtues in this village. For example: a person may learn theoretically and become a manager, but he cannot build a business community without logical understanding and giving importance to moral values. The latter, I see in West Champaran.

Featured image for representative purpose only.
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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

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With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

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A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

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A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

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A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

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A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
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