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The Rana dynasty (Nepali: राणा शासन, Rāņā shāsana) was a Hindu Rajput dynasty which ruled the Kingdom of Nepal from 1846 until 1951, reducing the Shah monarch to a figurehead and making Prime Minister and other government positions hereditary. Tyranny, debauchery, economic exploitation and religious persecution characterized Rana rule. This changed in 1951 with the promulgation of a new constitution, when power shifted back to the monarchy of King Tribhuvan. The dynasty is descended from Bal Narsingh Kunwar of Kaski who moved to Gorkha in the early 18th century and entered the service of Raja Nara Bhupal Shah around 1740, and of Bhimsen Thapa (1775–1839), who is counted among the National heroes of Nepal.
Janga Bahadur Kunwar (Nepali: जंग बहादुर कुँवर) began the dynasty. He came to power through the 1846 Kot massacre (Nepali: कोत पर्व, Kot Parwa) where 36 members of the palace court including the Prime Minister and a relative of the King Chautariya Fate Janga Shah were murdered. These were unstable times and Janga Bahadur brought stability to the country by putting himself firmly in control. He took the title Rana ("king"), the honorific Shrī Tīn (Nepali: श्री ३) meaning his name was preceded by Shrī-Shrī-Shrī, and was accorded 19-gun salutes by the British Raj. However Shah kings were Shrī Pānch (Nepali: श्री ५) -- Shrī-Shrī-Shrī-Shrī-Shrī—called Maharājdhirāj (Nepali: महाराजाधिराज), "king of kings", and given 21-gun salutes. Janga Bahadur's sons and brothers inherited the title Rana, and took it as their family name instead of Kunwar.
After Jang Bahadur's death his brother Ranodip Singh Rana took the Prime Ministership and title of Jang as per Jang's established wishes. However, the childless Prime Minister Ranodip was murdered in cold blood by four of his nephews: notable among them was Bir Shamshere (son of Dhir Shamsher Rana, youngest brother of Jang) whom Ranodip trusted blindly, for which he would ultimately pay with his life. Bir Shamshere was the main culprit as illustrated by British writer William Digby in his groundbreaking account of the murder in his seminal book Friend in Need:1857, Friendship Forgotten:1887. Gen. Dhoj Narsingh Rana, eldest son of Ranodip Singh, was falsely implicated in the murder and took refuge in India along with his family and Jang Bahadur's. The aforementioned book emphasizes the treachery of British Rulers in their treatment of Indian Kings, through the strategy of "Divide and Rule." Maharaja Sir Jang Bahadur Rana's eldest son, Gen. Jagat Jang, known as "Mukhiya Jarnel", and his eldest grandson (and Gen. Jagat Jang's eldest son) Gen. Yuddha Pratap, known as "Naati Jarnel," were both brutally murdered by Bir Shamshere and his brothers. Their descendants currently live in Manahara, Kathmandu.
Presently if someone carries the name Shumshere Jang Bahadur Rana, then they come from Dhir Shumsher's lineage (Jang Bahadur's younger brother) whose son Bir Shamsher committed the coup d'etat of 1885 murdering most of Jang Bahadur's sons and forcing the remaining sons and nephews to seek refuge in India. Two of Jang Bahadur's sons Gen. Ranabir Jang and Commander-in-Chief Gen. Padma Jang Bahadur Rana were escorted to Allahabad. Gen. Ranabir Jang later attempted to reclaim his position, after having raised an army, but was thwarted and finally killed in battle. Ranabir Jang's descendants with the title Bir Jang Bahadur are very widespread, and live in Kathmandu, Dehra Dun, Delhi, Kolkata, Australia, and the UK.
Descendants of Commander-in-Chief Gen. Padma Jang Bahadur Rana today live in Allahabad, Nepalgunj, Dehradun, Kathmandu, New York, Australia and United Kingdom. Gen. Padma Jang Bahadur Rana later wrote the book called "Life of Sir Jang Bahadur" which was published in early 1900 in India. His sons and grandsons fought and commanded forces in places like France, Italy, Afghanistan, Burma, Flanders, Egypt, Mesopotamia and Waziristan during World War I and World war II and won long list of medals.
Many of his daughters, granddaughters and great-granddaughters were/are married to various Maharajas of Indian Principality States. Similarly many of his sons, grandsons and great-grandsons were/are married to various Princesses of Indian Royal Houses. Maharaja Sir Jang Bahadur Rana of Lambjang & Kaski himself started the process of marrying Rana Gentlemen and Ladies to the Indian Royal Households in the mid-19th century. Commander-in-Chief Gen. Padma Jang continued the process of marrying his sons and daughters to the Indian Royal Households in the late 19th century. One of his great-granddaughters, Sita Rani Devi, is Rajmata of Indian Princely State of Makrai. Another great-granddaughter is Geeta Rani Rana, who is married to Late Thakuri Prachanda Singh of Royal House of Tulsipur.
Present rulers of Kingdom of Nepal, Jajorkot, Bajhang and Indian Princely States such as Jhalai, Jubbal, Bagribari, Tripura, Oel Kaimara, Khairagarh, Rajgarh, Tehri-Garhwal, Thalrai, Benaras, Ramnagar and many other states share a direct bloodline with Commander-in-Chief Gen. Padma Jang Bahadur Rana and Maharaja of Lambjang & Kaski Sir Jang Bahadur Rana.
Many of Jang Bahadur's nephews, as well as Crown Prince General Dhoj Narsingh Rana (adopted son of Maharaja Sir Renaudip Singh Bahadur), were forced to seek refuge in India. Many of Crown Prince General Dhoj Narsingh's children and family remained with Sri Teen Ranodip Singh's widow in Benares and were then relocated later to Udaipur upon the invitation by Maharana Fateh Singh, who sought to give refuge to his Rana cousins.
Out of seven sons and three daughters of General Dhoj Narsingh three sons and one daughter moved to Udaipur on an invitation from the Maharana who graciously requested them to settle in Udaipur. The Rana princes Shri Narsingh and Dev Narsingh established themselves to carry on the family's name in the city of their forefathers. Late Raja Durga Narsingh Rana was and is one of the best-known names among the Rajputs of Udaipur.
Their families established marital relations with the Royal families & Thikanas like Jasmor (head of the Pundir clan), Banka, Gogunda, Samode, Neemrana (direct descendents of Prithviraj Chauhan), Mahendragarh, etc.
The only known male descendants from these lines are Late Raja Durga Narsingh Rana and his son Raja Gyanendra Narsingh Rana, Raja Jagat Narsingh Rana (son of Shree Narsingh Rana) and his sons Mahendra Narsingh Rana & Virendra Narsingh Rana. Raja Gyanendra Narsingh Rana is currently the head of the Rana clan in Udaipur after the demise of his father Raja Durga Narsingh Rana.
The shortest serving Rana was Dev Shamsher Jang Bahadur Rana who ruled for two months in 1901, he was deposed by his brothers because of his open display of guilt for what has happened during the coup. Known as "The Reformist" for his progressive policies, he proclaimed universal education, began to building schools, took steps to abolish slavery, and introduced several other social welfare schemes. He also made improvements to the arsenal at Nakkhu (south of Kathmandu) and started The Gorkhapatra newspaper. Dev Shumsher felt guilty for what had transpired during the coup, also a key incident happened during the coup which affected him deeply. He was held at gunpoint by General Dhoj Narsingh Rana, but was allowed to live and forgiven. For this, he felt a lot of guilt and asked for the exiled family members to return to Nepal. This brought him to a clash with his immediate brothers.
He was deposed by his relatives, where he settled in Jhari Pani, near Mussoorie, where his Fairlawn Palace once stood. A developer purchased the palace and tore it down, replacing it with cottages. All that remains are a few of the original gates and a small portion of the palace skeleton.
The Rana dynasty developed into a powerful and wealthy family clan and some Ranas are still very influential in the country today taking higher positions in Nepal Army. To keep the power and influence the Rana family formed a close alliance with the Shah dynasty via marriage.
Rana Prime Ministers
- Shrī Tīn Jang Bahadur Rana, GCB, GCSI (18 June 1816 – 25 February 1877)
- Shrī Tīn Ranodip Singh aka Ranodip Singh Rana, KCSI (3 April 1825 – 22 November 1885
- Ruled 25 February 1877 to 22 November 1885.
- Shrī Tīn Bir Shamsher Jang Bahadur Rana, GCSI (10 December 1852 – 5 March 1901)
- Ruled 22 November 1885 to 5 March 1901.
- Shrī Tīn Dev Shamsher Jang Bahadur Rana (17 July 1862 – 20 February 1914)
- Ruled 5 March to 27 June 1901, when as a result of his progressive nature, he was deposed by his relatives and sent into exile in India.
- Shrī Tīn Chandra Shamsher Jang Bahadur Rana, GCB, GCSI, GCMG, GCVO (8 July 1863 – 26 November 1929)
- Ruled 27 June 1901 to 26 November 1929.
- Shrī Tīn Bhim Shamsher Jang Bahadur Rana, GCSI, GCMG, KCVO (16 April 1865 – 1 September 1932)
- Ruled 26 November 1929 to 1 September 1932.
- Shrī Tīn Juddha Shamsher Jang Bahadur Rana, GCB, GCSI, GCIE (19 April 1875 – 20 November 1952)
- Ruled 1 September 1932 to 29 November 1945, whereupon he abdicated in favor of his nephew.
- Shrī Tīn Padma Shamsher Jang Bahadur Rana, GCSI, GBE, KCIE (5 December 1882 – 11 April 1961)
- Ruled 29 November 1945 to 30 April 1948, whereupon he abdicated in favor of his cousin.
- Shrī Tīn Mohan Shamsher Jang Bahadur Rana, GCB, GCIE, GBE (23 December 1885 – 6 January 1967)
- Ruled 30 April 1948 to 18 February 1951, at which date he was divested of his titles and later went to India.
-  William Digby-Friend in need:1857, Friendship forgotten:1887
- Lambjang and Kaski - Brief History at Royalark.
- Old pictures of Nepal from Rana Dynasty
- Greater Game: India's Race with Destiny and China by David Van Praagh
- Dietrich, Angela (1996). "Buddhist Monks and Rana Rulers: A History of Persecution". Buddhist Himalaya: A Journal of Nagarjuna Institute of Exact Methods. Retrieved 17 September 2013.
- Lal, C. K. (16 February 2001). "The Rana resonance". Nepali Times. Retrieved 17 September 2013.
- Kraemer, Karl-Heinz. "Democratization and political parties in Nepal". Harvard University. Retrieved 2012-11-25.
- Friend in need:1857, Friendship forgotten:1887