Greater Nepal

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Greater Nepal Map, Extent of the Gorkha empire at its height

Greater Nepal is a concept of Nepal extending beyond its present boundaries to include present day Indian territories controlled briefly by the Gorkhali army after unification campaign by Prithvi Narayan Shah fought from 1791 to 1804 but ceded to the East India Company under the Sugauli Treaty, after the Gorkhalis were defeated in the 1814–16 Anglo-Nepalese War. In 1813, the historical Greater Nepal extended from the Sutlej to the Teesta, spanning 1500 kilometres. Rule over this expanse was brief, however, and in the aftermath of the 1814-1815 war with the East India Company the Gorkhali realm was whittled down considerably. The real time Gorkhali presence in Garhwal was for over a decade; Kumaon for 25 years; and Lower Part of Sikkim for 33 years. The Treaty of Sugauli, between the Gorkhali king and the Company, was ratified in 1816. It caused Nepal to lose about 105,000 km2 of territory and left Nepal as she is today, with 147,181 km2 of present total area.

Campaigns by Shah kings[edit]

Main article: Unification of Nepal
British map of India, c.1785

King Prithvi Narayan Shah (1723–75) of the Shah dynasty decided to enlarge the kingdom that was confined to the small Gorkha region of Nepal and had an area of just 2,500 square kilometres (970 sq mi). He defeated major principalities in wars and unified them under his rule starting from the 1740s ending with shifting of his Gorkha Kingdom’s capital from Gorkha region to Kathmandu in 1769. He then attacked and absorbed dozens of other small principalities of Nepal area to his Gorkha kingdom. After his death in 1775, his eldest son Pratap Singh Shah continued defeating other smaller princes and absorbing their fiefdoms. Pratap Shah died at the age of twenty-five in 1777. Then Prithvi Narayan Shah’s second son, Bahadur Shah, ruled until 1794.

British India and Nepal in 1795
British map of India, c.1804
This map of 1805 shows Nepal has enlarged, invading south Asian princely states, expanding Nepal's western border near the Kangra across the Satluj river. The Sugauli Treaty ceded these areas back to India.
1814 map by John Thomson depicting northern India and Nepal.
Imperial Gazetteer Map of British India, 1909

Wars with kingdoms in neighbouring countries, British India and Tibet[edit]

Victory over Kumaon Kingdom, Garhwal Kingdom and Kangra[edit]

The Gorkha army invaded Kumaon Kingdom and occupied it in 1790–91.[1][2] Then the Gorkha army invaded Garhwal Kingdom and occupied it in 1804 after defeating its King Pradyuman Shah. In 1806, the Gorkha army absorbed all the small kingdoms like Sirmudh state, Hindur and Besahar lying across the Garhwal and up to Satluj River. In this way, the Gorkhas controlled the hilly regions such as Nainital, Almora and Dehradun without crossing the Satluj River. However, when the Gorkhas crossed the Satluj river, the Gorkha's attack on Kangra and siege of Kangra Fort west of Satluj river was repulsed by the Kangra king with help from Maharaja Ranjit Singh of Punjab in 1809. Later the Gorkha army absorbed Kangra and extended the kingdom to Ravi river, India. This could not last long as Nepal signed Sugauli treaty.

Victory over Sikkim and Darjeeling[edit]

Previously Darjeeling formed a part of dominions of the Raja of Sikkim, who had been engaged in an unsuccessful warfare against the Gorkhas. From 1780 the Gorkhas continually made inroads into Sikkim. Sikkim lost most of its land to Nepal and by the beginning of the 19th century, the Gorkhas had overrun Sikkim as far-eastward as the Teesta and had conquered and annexed the Terai.[3]

Sugauli Treaty[edit]

Main article: Sugauli Treaty

The East India Company had come to rule much of north India by the time the Gurkhas attacked kingdoms in South Asia. The Company became the de facto ruler of South Asia east of Satluj river in place of the Moghuls, Marathas and other kings, especially after defeating the Marathas in 1803 in Second Anglo-Maratha War. After firmly establishing its rule over Delhi in 1803, the Company attacked the Gorkhas and repulsed them from Kumaon Kingdom and Garhwal Kingdom in the area west of Kali river and in Sikkim and north Bengal east of Teesta river by 1815. The Gorkhas were forced to accept a peace treaty with the British (the Sugauli Treaty) in 1816.

Gorkhaland Movement[edit]

The Gorkhaland movement in Darjeeling has clarified that there is no legitimate basis for annex Darjeeling to India. In 1986 the Gorkhaland movement began in the district of Darjeeling that lies between Mechi and Tista.[4] Many Nepalis died in the movement.[5] Subash Ghising, the leader of the movement sent a letter to then king of Nepal Birendra Bir Bikram Shah Dev pleading that Darjeeling belonged to Nepal and that they were his subjects. But the king did not sent any response. In 1991, Ghising wrote to the Indian prime minister to clarity the legitimate status of Darjeeling. He also sent a letter to the then prime minister of Nepal Girija Prasad Koirala. When all went in vain. He knocked the door of the Indian apex court. When the Gorkhaland movement was going on Ghising filed a case in the Supreme Court of India. He had filed it according to article 1-3-C of the Indian constitution. The court said that this was a political issue. This implied that it would have to be settled politically.

Present-day view[edit]

Pushpa Kamal Dahal, the chairperson of Maoist party, who spent 10 years of his life in India after being declared a terrorist by the Nepalese government, after becoming PM of Nepal said in an interview with Times of India in 2005 that Greater Nepal was a "media-created stunt".[6]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Kumaon and Garhwal Coin History". Uttarakhand Worldwide. 
  2. ^ "The Enclosing of Nepal". U.S. Library of Congress. 
  3. ^ "History of Darjeeling". Government of Darjeeling. 
  4. ^ Ramandeep Kaur (5 August 2013). "Gorkhaland – A Historical Background". Maps of India. 
  5. ^ Satyabrat Sinha (8 August 2013). "The Battles for Gorkhaland". New York Times. 
  6. ^ Pervez Iqbal Siddiqui (25 October 2005). "Nepal Maoists claim parts of India". Times of India. 

External links[edit]