The Mahendra Highway ends at MAHENDRA NAGAR, a border town with a good deal of spark thanks to day-tripping shoppers from India. Its bustle is only a border aberration, however, for the outlying region is one of the more traditional parts of the Terai. Rana Tharu (see p.240) sharecroppers work the fields, maintaining an apparently happy symbiosis with their old-money landlords, and their villages, scattered along dirt tracks north of the Mahendra Highway, still consist of traditional communal longhouses.

The border begins 6km west of Mahendra Nagar, and is reached by shared tempo, rikshaw, or bus. A rough road traverses the 1km no-man’s-land between the Nepali and Indian immigration posts. From Indian immigration you can catch a rikshaw across the wide Mahakali River along the top of a huge flood-control/irrigation barrage and then a further 4km to Banbaasa, the first Indian town. The border is officially open 24 hours, but you may have trouble finding the immigration officials at night or early in the morning.