History of Dhankuta Bazar

April 27, 2022

Dhankuta Bazar is a hill town in Dhankuta District of Eastern Nepal. Until about 1963 AD Dhankuta Bazar was the administrative headquarters for the whole of north-eastern Nepal.

The town also had the regional jail and army post. Because of Dhankuta’s isolation from the lowland Terai and from Kathmandu, it was in many ways a self-governing area.

Income to purchase items (cloth, kerosene, batteries, medicines, etc.) that could not be produced locally came from a combination of sales of hill produce (tangerines, potatoes, etc.) and funds repatriated back into the hills by Gorkha soldiers serving first in the British and then more-often in the Indian armies.

The first five (3 male; 2 female) American Peace Corps Volunteers arrived in Dhankuta Bazaar in Fall, 1962 to work as teachers in the two high schools. In October 1963 three male PCV’s arrived to help establish the new Panchayat Development program.

During the pre-panchayat period Dhankuta Bazaar prided itself as being in the cultural vanguard, a relatively progressive community with its own “intellectual” elite. Dhankuta Bazaar, already in the 1930s, had the only high school in Nepal to be located outside of the Kathmandu Valley. Early on it added a girl’s high school and a two-year college.

Then and now there is a sharp contrast between Dhankuta Bazaar and the surrounding rural villages. The town is a commercial center and has a population that is primarily Newar. The surrounding area is agricultural and the population is made up of many caste/tribal groups, notably Aathpaharia, Limbu, Yakkha, Rai, Magar, Tamang and Tibetan.