Chitawan is often referred to as the "melting pot" of Nepal. An official analysis of language statistics (HMG 1993) has shown that a large number of different ethnic groups live in this southern district of Nepal, this being a rather recent development. Until the mid-20th century, the largest of the synclinal depressions in the Siwalik Range was sparsely populated. The forested, undeveloped Chitawan was a place of refuge for a group of Tharus who were probably expelled from India.
While talking to the Tharus about their topical situation, the following comment is inevitably made: "Satjugi - formerly everything used to be better! Since these Pahariyas fpahar = hill, mountain] have come to Chitawan, we have been doing badly!" Such statements not only point to the apparently discordant multi-ethnic constellation in Chitawan, they also provide evidence of ethnicity - a strong identification with one's own ethnic group.
Firstly, I would like to examine the past in relation to the present situation in Chitawan, which entails focusing on the historical development. In the following, the ethnic constellation and socio-economic situation of the dif- ferent groups will be dealt with so as to analyze the patterns characterizing the relationship between the Tharus and other ethnic groups.