1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Champaran

CHAMPARAN, or Chumparun, a district of British India, in the Patna division of Bengal, occupying the north-west corner of Behar, between the two rivers Gandak and Baghmati and the Nepal hills. It has an area of 3531 sq. m. In 1901 the population was 1,790,463, showing a decrease of 4% in the decade. A broad grass-covered road or embankment defines the Nepal frontier, except where rivers or streams form a natural boundary. The district is a vast level except in the N. and N.W., where it undulates, and gradually assumes a rugged appearance as it approaches the mountains and forests of Nepal. Wide uncultivated tracts cover its north-western corner; the southern and western parts are carefully cultivated, and teem with an active agricultural population. The principal rivers are the Gandak, navigable all the year round, the Buri Gandak, Panch Nadi, Lalbagia, Koja and Teur. Old beds of rivers intersect Champaran in every direction, and one of these forms a chain of lakes which occupy an area of 139 sq. m. in the centre of the district. Champaran, with the rest of Bengal and Behar, was acquired by the British in 1765. Up to 1866 it remained a subdivision of Saran. In that year it was separated and formed into a separate district. The administrative headquarters are at Motihari (population, 13,730); Bettia is the centre of a very large estate; Segauli, still a small military station, was the scene of a massacre during the Mutiny. Champaran was the chief seat of indigo planting in Behar before the decline of that industry. There are about 40 saltpetre refineries. The district suffered severely from drought in 1866 and 1874, and again in 1897. In the last year a small government canal was opened, and a canal from the Gandak has also been constructed. The district is traversed almost throughout its length to Bettia by the Tirhoot state railway. A considerable trade is conducted with Nepal.