Chapra town, administrative headquarters of Saran district, in Bihar state and in north eastern part of India is situated near the junction of the Ghaghara and The Ganges rivers. Chapra grew in importance as a river mart in the 18th century when the Dutch, French, Portuguese, and English established saltpeter refineries there. It was constituted a municipality in 1864. The town has major rail and road connections with all over India.
In ancient days, Modern Chapra, formed a part of KOSALA country. The history of Chapra is bound to be history of Kosala which included portions other than present limit of Saran Division. The kingdom of Kosala was bounded on the west by Panchala, by the river Sarpika(sai) in the south, on the east by Gandak and on the north by Nepal. The Kosala consisted of modern Faizabad, Gonda, Basti, Gorkhapur, Deoria in UP and Saran in Bihar. The historical background of the district- as available in the 'Ain-E-Akbari records Saran as one of the six Sarkars(Revenue Divisions) constituting the province of Bihar. At the time of grant of Diwani to the East India company in 1765, there were eight Sarkars including Saran and Champaran. These two were later combined to form a single unit named Saran. Saran(along with Champaran) was included in the Patna Division when the Commissioner's Divisions were set up in 1829. It was separated from Champaran in 1866 when it (Champaran) was constituted into a separate district. Saran was made a part of Tirhut Division when latter was created in 1908. By this time there were three subdivisions in this district namely Saran, Siwan and Gopalganj. In 1972 each subdivision of the old Saran district became an independent district. The new Saran district after separation of Siwan and Gopalganj still has its headquarters at Chapra.
Various hypothesis have been put forward about the origin of the name SARAN. General Cunningham suggested that Saran was earlier known as SARAN or asylum which was a name given to a stupa (Pillar) built by emperor Ashoka. Another view holds that the name SARAN has been derived from SARANGA- ARANYA or the deer forest, the district being famous for its wide expanses of forest and deer in prehistoric times. The earliest authentic historical fact or record concerning this district may perhaps be related to 898 AD which suggest that the village of Dighwara dubauli in Saran had supplied a copper plate issued in the reign of king Mahendra paldeva.
Saran(Chapra) has ancient and great history. Maharshi Dadhichi belongs to Saran who had donated his bone to Gods for manufacturig of arms. Cottage of Dronacharya was also situated in Saran. Gautamasthan, 8 km from chapra town, is used to be Maharshi Gautam's ashrama. Lord Rama has provided Devi ahiylya, wife of Maharshi Gautam who become stone due to a curse(by her mistake), her life back. Currently, there is a temple and Vishnupad preserved. The fight of "Gaj" (Elephant) and "Grah" (Corcodial) was made at Sonepur in Saran also. Presently, Sonpur is well known for Asia's biggest cattle Fair on Kartik Purnima(October-November) every year. Ambica Sthan (Ami,Dighwara) is famous for goddess Durga.
The famous Ashoka Pillar is located about 33 km from Chapra town (5 km from Maker Village). This is the place where Lord Buddha made his 13th stop on his way to attaining 'Nirvana'. He converted "Amrapali" - a local courtesan/powerful prostitute into a saint. This is now a major tourist attraction for Buddhists all over the world and is well maintained by the archaeological survey of India. At Chirand near Chapra ancient (primitive) bones were found and are placed in the Chapra Museum. It is famous for King Maurayadhwaj who was ready to sacrifce his only son to Vaman Avatar Lord Vishnu.
It is also famous for its Bhojpuri heritage. The famous "Bhikhari Thakur" is a famous person from Saran, and is often referred to as the "Shakespeare of Bhojpuri". "Mahendra Misir" also a famous person in Bhojpuri Folk songs. He had specially invented the "Purvi" a style of Bhojpuri Folk song. He was the master in playing of several types of instruments.Bhojpuri is dialect of this place. Ara (Arrah), Ballia (Balia), Chapra and Deoria, the Bhojpuri heartland, are known as "ABCD" of India due to their people's congruence of language and culture. People of this "ABC" region has taken Bhojpuri across the Indian boarder to far away places in Fiji, Mauritius, Trinidad & Tobago, Surinam and Guyana when their forefathers were settled there as indentured labourer by Imperial forces. They have adopted there new homeland but still have Bhojpuri in their blood.
Chapra is located at 25.773460° N 84.727470° E. It has an average elevation of 36 metres (118 feet).
The district of Saran is situated between 25°36' and 26°13' North latitude and 84°24' and 85°15' East longitude in the southern post of the newly created Saran Division of North Bihar. The Ganges constitute the Southern boundary of the district beyond which lie the districts of Bhojpur and Patna. To the north of Saran lie districts of Siwan and Gopalganj. The Gandak forms the dividing line with vaishali and Muzaffarpur district in the east. To the west of Saran lies district of Siwan and the district of Balia in Uttar Pradesh, the Ghaghra constituting a natural boundary between Saran and Ballia.
The district is shaped like a triangle with its apex at the confluence of boundary of Gopalganj district and Gandak-Ganga river there are three rivers namely the Ganga, Ghaghra, Gandak which encircle the district from south north east and western side respectively. The district is entirely constituted of plains but there are quite a few depressions and marshes, which cause the formation of three broad natural divisions.
I. The alluvial plains along the big rivers which are subjected to periodic inundation and prone to floods.
II. The region of uplands away from the rivers and not subject to floods.
III. The diara areas in the beds of the great rivers.
Out of twenty blocks in the districts, Six blocks viz Sonepur, Dighwara, Revelganj, Chapra, Manjhi and Dariyapur are affected by floods regularly. There are six partially flood affected blocks Viz. Garkha, Parsa, Marhoura, Amnaur, Jalalpur, and Ekma. The remaining blocks are free from floods. The soil of the district is alluvial. No mineral of economic value is found in the district. Located just above the Ghaghara River's junction with the Ganges, its 1991 population was 136,877 people. Chapra is a road and rail hub, as well as a center for trade in agricultural products.
 Famous Personalities
CHAPRA is the home of Jai Prakash Narayan, Rajendra Prasad (First President of India),Mazaharul Haq,etc. Jaiprakash Narayan University has been opened in the name of Jai Prakash Narayan "stalwart of Indian politics". Dr. Rajendra Prasad, first President of India, a renowned scholar and statesman was a native of Vill. Ziradei near Siwan (Now in Siwan District). Chapra was the headquarter of great district called Saran. Later, the district was divided into three separate districts: Chapra, Siwan, and Gopalganj.Chitragupta, the famous music composer of Bollywood, hailed from CHAPRA and his Music Director duo son Anand-Milind are still bringing glory to this place.
Names of Famous Personalities of CHAPRA
Jai Prakash Narayan, Dr. Rajendra Prasad, Laloo Prasad Yadav, Shobhna Narayan, Mazaharul Haque, Abdul Gafur, Swami Adbhutanand, Dr. Harihar Nath Saran, Musician Chitragupta, Bhikhari Thakur, Khuda Baksh Khan, Ram Yatan Ojha, Paramhans Dayal Swami, Bindeshwari Pd. Verma, Maheshwar Prasad Singh, Ram Sunder Das, Amiya Nath Chatterjee,Dr Govind Sharan,Rahul Sankrityan,etc.
As of 2001 India census, Chapra had a population of 178,835. Males constitute 54% of the population and females 46%. Chapra has an average literacy rate of 61%, higher than the national average of 59.5%; with male literacy of 72% and female literacy of 48%. 15% of the population is under 6 years of age.
The place is situated about 37 km east of Chapra and 4 km west of Dighwara. It is said that in ancient times there was a Dirgh dwar near Dighwara Railway station and the place came to be known as Dighwara. In Aami there is an old temple known as Amba asthan. Near the temple there is a garden and a deep and broad well in which water remains all over the year and it never dries up. The believer from far off come to pay oblation in the established in her memory over this Yagya Kunda. The believers from far off come to pay oblation in the Navratra of April and October. Water offered here by lacs of People vanishes in the Kunda.
Internationally famous for the large fair held on the occasion of Kartik Purnima, it is also the head quarters of Sonepur Anchal. Sonepur is a Nagar Panchayat and is noted for its Railways platform which is one of the largest in India. So far as religious aspect of Sonepur Mela is concerned, special significance is owing to the temple of shree Hariharnath and the site of the battle of Gaj-Grah and rescue of the former by Hari During Kartik Purnima Ganga Snan or ceremonial bathing in the Ganga is held by Hindus to be unusually efficacious. On the day of full moon (Kartik Purnima) immense crowd assembles and take bath. The Mela commences on that day and lasts for more than a fortnight. The Shiva temple, Kali temple and other temples and historical religious monuments are situated here and social and economical activities are at the highest peak during the Mela period. People come here to pay their oblation to the lords and thus its importance is not within Sonepur of Bihar rather it is of India and world fame.
This place is situated towards north of Parsagarh where many exhibits of archaeological importance can be seen. On the bank of river Gandaki and ancient temple of Bhagwan Dhadheswar nath is situated in which a gigantic Shiv Ling of stone is there.
The Ashram of Gautam Rishi is situated 5 km west of Chapra As per religious belief the purification of Ahalya was meted out here. In the epic Ramayan, there is mention of Gautam Rishi who had cursed his wife who turned into stone.
This is an important place as per the child Episode of Shiv Puran and Ram charitra Manas. The mohbhan of Narad depicts the place to be here. This ancient place is 28 km away from Marhowra. On every Shivratary mela is organized here during which the devotes of Baba Shilanath come to pay their obeisances.
Chirand is situated 11 km south east of the district headquarter near Doriganj Bazar at the north bank of river Ghaghra. The result of the excavation there reveals about four thousand years old developed culture of Pashan age. Inhabitants of Chirand were engaged in Animal Husbandry, agriculture and hunting. In whole of India new Pashan age culture was firstly revealed here. Chirand had become an important urban place.