FROM THE WEATHY HUNTING AREA TO THE RURAL AREAS
Chitwan is one of 75 districts in Nepal with more than 570,000 civilians living there. According to a legend, sadhus once came from near and far to meditate in the wooded land. The name Chitwan origins from the name of a former kingdom known as Chitra Sen. Putting together the two Nepali words “chitta” (heart) and “wan” (forest) is means “the heart of the forest”.
Since the end of the 19th century, Chitwan was the preferred hunting ground for the ruling class of Nepal during the winter season. Until the 1950s, the feudal lords shot hundreds of tigers, rhinos, leopards and bears within just a few months. Thereafter, the region was partially opened for the settlement of poor farmers who were looking for fertile farmland. This meant an extreme additional burden for the natural environment, as the poaching massively increased. Finally, the National park was founded in 1973 and in 1984 the region was declared a World Cultural Heritage.
The population of the different regions of Chitwan show no homogeneity in culture, tradition and language, as they are coming from different tribes, some having been forcibly relocated: The Chepang, the Tamang and the Thaurs. Yet, what they all have in common is a life below the poverty line, characterized by lack of opportunity and exploitation.