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Originally the Khas (खस) / Khasas or Khasiyas were the mountain dwellers living in the southern shadow of the Himalayan range from Kashmir to Bhutan in the present day countries of Nepal, India (in the states of Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Sikkim, and the Darjeeling in West Bengal), and Bhutan. Most modern Khas people will not refer to themselves as Khas, instead referring to themselves by the ethnic or Hindu caste Nepali origin (e.g. Bahun, Bhakuni, Chhetri, or Thakuri). The Khasas were a warlike tribe who built three capitals over time: Taklakot in Tibet, and Sinja and Dullu in Nepal. From the 11th century, their powerful kingdom, known as the Malla Empire (not related to the Malla Kingdoms of the Kathmandu Valley), grew, covering much of west Nepal, Ladakh, Kashmir and western Tibet. As the empire fell apart during the 14th century, many of the ruling families migrated throughout Nepal. Many common Nepali surnames (e.g. Thapa, Basnet, Bisht/Bista, Adhikari and Bhandari), found throughout modern Nepal, have their roots in the ancient Khas kingdom. The Khas language (Khas kura), modern day Nepali, became the national language when the Shah dynasty of Gorkha unified the middle Himalayan region into modern Nepal.
It has been proposed that the Khas people have their origins in Central Asia and migrated to the Himalayan region of southern Asia (Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Nepal in ancient times. The period of migration remains ambiguous. In Nepal the Khas people first settled around present day Humla and Jumla. The Khasa kings formed the famous Malla Kingdom, which ruled Humla from the eleventh century before collapsing and splintering into local chiefdoms during the fourteenth century.
There is a possibility of Khas to have roots to Central Asia, due to language migration. The word Kazakh was a common term throughout medieval Central Asia, generally with regard to individuals or groups who had taken or achieved independence from a figure of authority.
Main titles (surnames) of Khas
In Nepal, there are more than 300 surnames of the Khas people. In the past Khas are believed to have intermarried with Magar and Gurung, so that these and the Khas (Kshetri) have the same surnames. According to Professor Suryamani Adhikari (Tribhuvan University) Khas surnames indicate either post/position/profession held (e.g. Thapa = warrior; Karki = revenue officer etc.) or the place of origin in the Karnali region in far western Nepal (e.g. Sinja = Sijapati; etc.). Thapas or Bhudas were warriors in the historic Khas kingdom of the Karnali region, posts which could be held both by Khas and Magar.
Some similar titles/surname between Khas and other ethnic groups
- Baral (Bahun and Magar)
- Lamichhane (Bahun,Chhetri,gurung)
- Budha (Magar and Chhetri)
- Thapa (Magar and Chhetri)
- Rana (Magar and Chhetri)
Notable Khas people
- Ranga Nath Poudyal - (Former and First Brahmin Prime Minister of Nepal)
- Matrika Prasad Koirala - (Former and became First Prime Minister after Rana dynasty Rule ended in Nepal)
- Tanka Prasad Acharya - (Former Prime Minister, he is also known as "living martyr" and is founding leader of Nepal Praja Parishad)
- Bishweshwar Prasad Koirala - (Former and First Democratically Elected Prime Minister of Nepal)
- Nagendra Prasad Rijal - (Former Prime Minister of Nepal)
- Krishna Prasad Bhattarai - (Former Prime Minister of Nepal)
- Girija Prasad Koirala - (Former Prime Minister of Nepal)
- Rajeshwor Devkota - (Former Chairperson of the National Parliament and nationalist leader)
- Man Mohan Adhikari - (Former and First Democratically-elected Communist Party member to be Prime Minister in Nepal)
- Pushpa Kamal Dahal "Prachanda" - (Former and First Prime Minister of "Republic" Nepal)
- Madhav Kumar Nepal - (Former Prime Minister of Nepal)
- Jhala Nath Khanal - (Former Prime Minister of Nepal)
- Baburam Bhattarai - (Former Prime Minister of Nepal)
- Khil Raj Regmi - (Former Chief Justice and Head of Ministry of Nepal)
- Kalu Pandey
- Damodar Pandey - acting Prime Minister of Nepal
- Bam Dev Gautam - Deputy Prime Minister of Nepal
- Bhanubhakta Acharya - ("Nepal ka Adikavi" or "Nepal's Original Poet")
- Motiram Bhatta - ("Yuwa Kavi" or "Youth Poet" of Nepal)
- Lekhnath Paudyal - ("Kavi Shiromani" or "Founding Father of Modern Nepali Poetry Literature")
- Laxmi Prasad Devkota - ("Maha Kavi" or "The Great Poet" of Nepal)
- Madhav Prasad Ghimire - ("Rashtra Kavi" or "Poet of Nation" of Nepal)
- Janak Lal Sharma - (Renowned anthropologist and literarture of Nepal)
- Hari Bansha Acharya - (Senior and Successful Comedian, Actor and Writer of Nepal)
- Bhakta Raj Acharya - (Senior singer of Nepal known as "Bhajan Shiromani")
- Manisha Koirala - (Nepali Renowned Actress in Multiple Film Industries)
- Saroj Khanal - (Renowned Actor in Nepali Film Industries)
- Anshumala Sharma - (Renowned Actress in Nepali Film Industries)
- Krishna P Sharma - (Renowned Khas Graphic Designer)
- Jung Bahadur Rana - (Original name: Bir Narsingh Kunwar, founder of the Rana Dynasty)
- Bhimsen Thapa-(First Prime Minister of Nepal)
- Lokendra Bahadur Chand –(Former Prime Minister of Nepal)
- Madan Kumar Bhandari - ( Former chairman of UML Party)
- Surya Bahadur Thapa –(Former Prime Minister of Nepal)
- Mathawar Singh Thapa-(Former minister Nepal)
- Pashupati Samsher JBR –Former Minister of Nepal
- Ram Sharan Mahat –Leader of Nepali Congress (Nepal)
- Sarad Singh Bhandari -Noted politician, formerly Panchayat minister)
- Rana Junga pandey -(Prime Minister of Nepal)
- Kirti Nidhi Bista , Former Prime Minister of Nepal
- Amar Singh Thapa - known as "Living lion of Nepal", was the General of the Nepalese forces of western front in the Anglo–Nepalese War. He is regarded as one of the National heroes of Nepal.
- Gagan Singh Bhandari - (Commander-in-chief of Queen Laxmidevi, favourite wife of king Rajendra Bikram, whose suspicious murder led to the Kot massacre in Nepal)
- Shivaram Singh Basnyat
- Kehar Singh Basnyat
- Abhiman Singh Basnet -(first commander-in-chief of united Nepal, whose last words were"Jung Bahadur killed Gagan Singh" during the Kot massacre)
- Pahalman Singh Basnyat
- Rajesh Hamal - (One of the Greatest Nepali Actor)
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