Jung Bahadur Rana

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Shree Teen
Janga Bahadur Rana
श्री ३
जङ्ग बहादुर कुँवर राणाजी
Jang Bahadur Rana
Eighth Prime Minister of Nepal
Sri 3 Maharaj of Kaski and Lamjung
In office
31 years
Preceded by Fateh Jung Shah
Succeeded by Ranodip Singh Kunwar
Personal details
Born 18 June 1817
Died 25 February 1877(1877-02-25) (aged 59)
Citizenship Nepalese
Nationality Nepali
  • Maharajkumar General Jagat Jung Bahadur Rana
  • Maharajkumar General Jit Jung Bahadur Rana
  • Maharajkumar General Padma Jung Bahadur Rana
  • Maharajkumar General Ranabir Jung Rana
  • Maharajkumari Badan Kumari Rana
Parents Father Bal Narsingh Kunwar
Relatives Uncle Mathabarsingh Thapa
Known for First Rana Prime Minister of Nepal
Religion Hinduism[1]

Maharaja Junga Bahadur Rana (Nepali: जङ्ग बहादुर राणा) (or Junga Bahadur Kunwar (Nepali: जङ्ग बहादुर कुँवर), GCB, GCSI, 18 June 1817, Kathmandu, Nepal – 25 February 1877, Borlang, Gorkha ) was a ruler of Nepal and founder of the Rana Dynasty of Nepal. His real name was Bir Narsingh Kunwar but he became famous by the name Junga Bahadur, given to him by Mathabarsingh Thapa, his maternal uncle.

His mother was daughter of Kaji Nayan Singh Thapa, brother of PM Bhimsen Thapa. His maternal uncle was PM Mathabarsingh Thapa. Through the influence of his maternal side, he enjoyed privileges. During his lifetime, he eliminated the factional fighting at the court, removed his family rivals such as Pandes and Basnyaats and paved way for the finding of Rana Dynasty, introduced innovations into the bureaucracy and the judiciary, and made efforts to "modernize" Nepal. He remains one of the most important figures in Nepalese history, though modern historians have also blamed Junga Bahadur for setting up the dictatorship that repressed the nation for 104 years from 1846 to 1951 and left it in a primitive economic condition. Others exclusively blame his nephews, the Shumsher Ranas, for Nepal's dark period of history.[2] Rana rule was marked by tyranny, debauchery, economic exploitation and religious persecution.[3][4]

Immediate ancestors[edit]

His father, Bal Narsingh Kunwar (aka Bala Narsingh Kunwar), was in court the day Rana Bahadur Shah was murdered by his own half-brother Sher Bahadur Shah; as a retaliation Bal Narsingh killed him on the spot. For this action, he was rewarded with the position of Kaji, which was made hereditary in his family, also he was the only person allowed to carry weapons inside the court. He was great grandson of Ram Krishna Kunwar, a great military leader at the times of King Prithvi Narayan Shah. Through his mother Ganesh Kumari, he was related to the aristocratic Thapa family of PM Bhimsen Thapa, which helped him enter the royal court at a young age. Through his maternal grandmother he was related to the aristocratic Pande family as his maternal grandmother Rana Kumari was the daughter of Kaji Ranajit Pande, an influential royal courtier.[5]

Early life[edit]

Prime Minister Mathbarsingh Thapa, the maternal uncle of Jung Bahadur in 1843.

Jung Bahadur Kunwar joined the military service (1832–33) at the age of sixteen. As maternal grandson of Bhimsen Thapa, he lost his job and his property when the latter fell. After wandering in north India for several years, he returned to Nepal as a captain in the artillery in 1840. In November 1841, he was asked by the king to join his bodyguard, and in January 1842 he began work as Kaji in the palace. When his maternal uncle Mathbar Singh Thapa returned to power, Jung Bahadur rose with him. However Mathbar Singh disliked Jung Bahadur's ambition and had him removed to a lesser position on the staff of the heir apparent. When Fateh Jung Chautaria came to power, Jung Bahadur became fourth in the hierarchy of the coalition government and took pains to flatter the queen while showing no signs of ambition to general Gagan Singh Bhandari. A caree opportunist, he was ready and waiting when the time came to act at the Kot massacre.

Queen Rajya Lakshmi Devi, the favourite wife of King Rajendra Bikram was not pleased by the new prime minister. She conspired to eliminate Jung Bahadur Kunwar and elevate her son to the throne. The Basnyat conspiracy—so called because many of its participants belonged to one of the last leading noble families, the Basnyat—was betrayed and its ringleaders were rounded up and executed in 1846 at Bhandarkhal Parva. A meeting of leading notables packed with Rana supporters found the queen guilty of complicity in the plot, stripped her of her powers, and sent her into exile in Banaras along with King Rajendra. The king still had delusions of grandeur and began plotting his return from India. In 1847 Jung Bahadur informed the troops of the exiled king's treasonous activities, announced his dethronement, and elevated Rajendra's son to the throne as Surendra Bikram Shah (1847–81). King Rajendra Bikram was captured later that year in the Tarai and brought back as a prisoner to Bhadgaon, where he spent the rest of his life under house arrest.

By 1850 Jung Bahadur had eliminated all of his major rivals, installed his own candidate on the throne, appointed his brothers and cronies to all the important posts, and ensured that major administrative decisions were made by himself as prime minister. At this point, he took the unprecedented step of travelling to Britain, France and Egypt[6] leaving from Calcutta in April 1850 and returning to Kathmandu in February 1851. Although he unsuccessfully tried to deal directly with the British government while he was there, the main result of the tour was a great increase in goodwill between the British and Nepal. Recognizing the power of industrialised Europe, he became convinced that close co-operation with the British was the best way to guarantee Nepal's independence. From then on, European architecture, fashion, and furnishings became more prevalent in Kathmandu and among the Nepalese aristocracy in general.

Muluki Ain[edit]

As part of his modernisation plans, Jung Bahadur commissioned leading administrators and interpreters of texts on dharma to revise and codify the legal system of the nation into a single body of laws, a process that had not been carried out since the seventeenth century under Ram Shah of Gorkha. The result was the 1,400-page Muluki Ain of 1854, a collection of administrative procedures and legal frameworks for interpreting civil and criminal matters, revenue collection, landlord and peasant relations, intercaste disputes, and marriage and family law. In contrast to the older system, which had allowed execution or bodily mutilation for a wide range of offences, the Muluki Ain severely limited—without abolishing—corporal punishment. For example, the old system gave wide scope for blood vengeance by aggrieved parties, such as cuckolded husbands, but the Muluki Ain restricted such opportunities. Substitutions included confiscation of property or prison terms. Torture to obtain confessions was abolished. Strict penalties were set down for the abusers of judicial positions and also for persons maliciously accusing judges of corruption. There were statutes of limitations for judicial actions. Caste-based differences in the degree of punishments remained throughout, with higher castes (for example, Brahmans) exempt from the corporal punishments and heavy fines that lower-caste members incurred for the same crimes. This distinction was in keeping with the traditional approach of the dharma shastras, or ancient legal treatises.

Control of Nepal[edit]

Maharajah Jung Bahadur and Maharani Hiranyagarva 1864.

After Jung Bahadur's visit to Europe he took steps to increase his hold over the country. He reduced the King of Nepal to a prisoner in his own palace, surrounded by agents of the Prime Minister being restricted and supervised at all times. No one outside the King's immediate family could see the King without permission from the Prime Minister. All communications in the name of the king were censored, and he was allowed to read only approved literature. In 1856 the king issued a royal decree (sanad) that formalised the dominance of the Kunwar family. There were three main provisions in this crucial document. First, the prime minister had complete authority over all internal administration, including civil, military, and judicial affairs, and all foreign relations, including the powers to make war and peace. Second, Jung Bahadur was made great king (maharajah) of Kaski and Lamjung districts, in effect serving as their independent ruler. The Shah king retained the title of Maharajadhiraja (Supreme King) and the right to use the honorific term Shree five times with his name. The prime minister could use Shree three times with his name. In this way, Jung Bahadur stopped short of taking the throne outright but elevated his family to a level second only to the royal house, which remained as a symbol of the nation. Finally, provisions were established for hereditary succession to the post of prime minister. Brothers and then sons would inherit the position in order of seniority. These provisions meant that the dictatorship of the Kunwar family, a virtual monarchy within the monarchy, would be passed down in the family for generations, with no legal mechanism. for changing the government. Later, Jung Bahadur established official Rolls of Succession that ranked all his descendants in relation to their hereditary rights to the office of prime minister.

Jung Bahadur sealed the arrangement with the Shah Dynasty by arranging marriages between his heirs and the royal house. In 1854, his eldest son Jagat Jung (aged eight) married the eldest daughter (aged six) of king Surendra. In 1855 his second son married the second daughter of the king. The ultimate test was passed in 1857, when heir apparent Trailokya Bir Bikram Shah Deva married three daughters of Jung Bahadur.[citation needed] A son of this union, Prithvi Bir Bikram Shah, ascended to the throne in 1881.

Foreign relations[edit]

Maharaj Jung at London in 1850

Nepal began to experience some successes in international affairs during the tenure of Jung Bahadur. To the north, relations with Tibet had been mediated through China since Nepal's defeat in 1792, and during the early nineteenth century embassies had to make the arduous journey to Beijing every five years with local products as tribute to the Qing emperor. By 1854, however, China was in decline and had fallen into a protracted period of disturbances, including the Taiping Rebellion (1851–64), revolts by Muslim ethnic groups north of Tibet, and war with European powers. The Nepalese mission to Beijing in 1852, just after the death of the sixth Panchen Lama, was allegedly mistreated in Tibet. Because of this slight, the Nepalese government sent a protest letter to Beijing and Lhasa outlining several grievances, including excessive customs duties on Nepalese trade. In 1855 Nepalese troops overran the Kuti and Kairang areas. The Nepalese-Tibetan War lasted for about a year, with successes and failures on both sides, until a treaty negotiated by the Chinese resident and ratified in March 1856 gave Nepalese merchants duty-free trade privileges, forced Tibet to pay an annual tribute of 10,000 rupees to Nepal, and allowed a Nepalese resident in Lhasa. In return, Nepal gave up territorial gains and agreed that it, as well as Tibet, would remain a tributary state subject to China. As the Qing Empire disintegrated later in the century, this tributary status was allowed to lapse, and even Tibet began to shake off its. subordination.

Prime-Minister of Nepal and Maharaja of Kaski & Lamjung, Jung Bahadur Rana was the first Rajah and Prime-Minister to get state honours in the court of Queen Victoria in 1850. Nepal and Britain became strong allies after Jung Bahadur's return from England visit.

The outbreak of disorder to the south also allowed the Nepalese army to take a more active role in international affairs. The Indian Rebellion of 1857, beginning in May 1857, was a series of related uprisings throughout north India that threatened to topple the power of the British East India Company. The uprisings began with widespread mutinies in the company's army and spread to include peasant revolts and alliances of the old Mughal aristocracy against the foreigner. Most of the major cities west of Bengal fell into rebel hands, and the aged Mughal emperor, Bahadur Shah II, was proclaimed the leader of a national revolution. Initially there was some fear in British circles that Nepal would side with the rebels and turn the tide irrevocably against the British East India Company, but Jung Bahadur proved to be a loyal and reliable ally. At that point, immediately following hostilities in Tibet, the army of Nepal had grown to around 25,000 troops. Jung Bahadur sent several columns ahead and then marched with 9,000 troops into northern India in December 1857. Heading an army of 15,000 troops, he fought several hard battles and aided the British in their campaigns around Gorakhpur and Lucknow. The prime minister returned to Nepal triumphantly in March 1858 and continued to aid the British in rooting out "rebels" who had been dislocated during the chaos and sought refuge in the Tarai.

After the Sepoy Rebellion had been crushed and Britain had abolished the British East India Company and taken direct control of India in 1858, Nepal received a reward for its loyalty. Western sections of the Tarai that had been ceded through the Sugauli Treaty in 1816 were returned. Henceforth, the British were firm supporters of Jung Bahadur's government, and Nepal later became an important source of military recruits for the British army.[7]

In 1858 King Surendra bestowed upon Jung Bahadur Kunwar the honorific title of Rana, an old title denoting martial glory used by Rajput princes in northern India.[a] He then became Jung Bahadur Rana, and the later prime ministers descended from his family added his name to their own in honour of his accomplishments. Their line became known as the house of the Ranas. Jung Bahadur remained prime minister until 1877, suppressing conspiracies and local revolts and enjoying the fruits of his early successes. He exercised almost unlimited power over internal affairs, taking for his own use whatever funds were available in the treasury. He lived in the high style of an Anglicised native prince in the British Raj, although unlike the Indian princes he was the ruler of a truly independent nation, an ally rather than a subordinate of the British.


Prime Minister Jung Bahadur Rana in 1877.

Maharaja Sir Jung Bahadur Rana's eldest son was Gen. Jagat. Jung, known as "Mukhiya Jarnel". His eldest grandson and Gen. Jagat Jung's eldest son was Gen. Yuddha Pratap Jung, known as "Naati Jarnel". Their descendants currently live in Manohara, Kathmandu.

Most of the people's lineage, who carry the middle and last name 'Jung Thapa', can be traced to Colonel Gajraj Singh Thapa. Colonel Thapa was Jung Bahadur's eldest son-in-law. He was married to Jung Bahadur's eldest daughter Maharajkumari Badan Kumari Rana.

Gajraj Singh Thapa and his wife (eldest daughter of Jung Bahadur Rana).

It is said that Jung Bahadur personally insisted his son-in-law to replace the middle name of Thapa's children to Jung from Singh in an attempt to signify his own name. Henceforth, Colonel Thapa's only son was named Harka 'Jung' Thapa; the ancestor of all modern Jung Thapas. However, in the present context it is important to understand that even normal Thapas have started giving the middle name Jung to their children and this does not mean they hold Jung Bahadur's lineage.

Presently if someone carries the name Shumsher Jung Bahadur Rana, then they come from Dhir Shumsher's lineage (Jung Bahadur's younger brother) whose son Bir Shumsher committed the coup d'état of 1885 murdering most of Jung Bahadur's sons and forcing the remaining sons, as well as, Prince General Dhoj Narsingh Rana (adopted son of the childless Prime Minister Ranodip Singh) to seek refuge in India. The descendants of Jung and Ranodip live today in North India (mainly Dehra Dun, Allahabad and Udaipur) and Toronto, Ontario, Canada, some did return to Nepal and live in Kathmandu, Nepalgunj and Pokhara. Presently if someone carries the name Bikram Rana they are the descendants from Junga Bahadur's older brother Maharaja Gen. Bhakta Bikram Rana who is widely known as Buda General ( old General). His grand son Gen. Rishi Bikram Rana represented Nepalese army in World War II. Another branch of descendants of Jung Bahadur are from two of his sons Gen. Ranabir Jung and Commander-in-Chief Gen. Padma Jung Bahadur Rana KIH Gold Medal 1877 who were escorted to Allahabad. Gen. Ranabir Jung later attempted to reclaim his position, after having raised an army, but was thwarted and finally killed in battle. Ranabir Jungs descendants with the title Bir Jung Bahadur live in Kathmandu, Dehra Dun, Delhi, Kolkata, Australia and the United Kingdom.

Descendants of Commander-in-Chief Gen. Padma Jung Bahadur Rana today live in Allahabad, Nepalgunj, Dehradun, Kathmandu, New York, Australia and United Kingdom. Gen. Padma Jung Bahadur Rana later wrote the book called "Life of Sir Jung Bahadur" which was published in early 1900 in India.

His sons and grandsons fought and commanded forces in different places like France, Italy, Afghanistan, Burma, Flanders, Egypt, Mesopotamia and Wazirstan during World War I and World War II and won long list of medals.

Commander-in-Chief Tripura Forces World War I Col. Jodha Jung Bahadur Rana (Son of Commander-in-Chief Maharajkumar Padma Jung Bahadur Rana and Grandson of Maharaja SIR Jung Bahadur Rana).

Maharaja and SIR Jung Bahadur's Grandson (Maharajkumar Gen. Padma Jung's son) was first Indian of Nepali-origin to be trained as commanding officer at RMAS Royal Military Academy Sandhurst. He was commissioned as one of the First KCIO King's Commissioned Indian Officer. He later became Commander-in-Chief of Tripura Forces and retired as full Col. of British Raj. He fought gallantly in World War I. At the Battle of Loos he fought bravely and received five bullet wounds in his neck and upper shoulder. He was awarded many medals and honours during his long military career. His name was Rana Jodha Jung Bahadur.

During World War I at the Battle of Loos, in the MID of British Military London News, following was mentioned:
"Rana Jodha Jang Bahadur, who, in spite of being wounded, continued to lead his men against the Germans, and did not desist until a second wound in the neck rendered him unconscious. The Rana displayed great tenacity, leadership and conspicuous gallantry by leading his company right up to the German defences in the face of heavy fire"
His titles read: Commander-in-Chief Tripura State Forces, Col. Rana Jodha Jung Bahadur, MBE; MIC, MID, GSM, Victory, Jubilee, War and Coronation Medals; KCIO 1st King Commissioned Officer.

Maharajkumar General Padma Jung's daughters, granddaughters and great-granddaughters were/are married to various Maharajas of Indian Principality States. His own sister was Queen of Nepal (married to Sree-Panch Maharajdhiraj Trilokya). Similarly many of his sons, grandsons and great-grandsons were/are married to various Princesses of Indian Royal Houses. Maharaja Sir Jung Bahadur Rana of Kaski & Lamjung 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 Jung 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 former Indian Princely State of Makrai. Another great-granddaughter is Geeta Rani Rana, who is married to Late Thakuri Prachanda Singh of former principality/state Royal House of Tulsipur.

Present titular rulers of former kingdoms and states such as Kingdom of Nepal, Jajorkot, Bajhang and Indian Princely States such as Jhalai, Jubbal, Bagribari, Tripura, Oel Kaimara, Khairagarh, Rajgarh, Tehri-Garhwal, Khajurgaon Thalrai, Benaras, Ramnagar, Mayurbanj, Poonch, Sikar and many other states share a direct bloodline with Commander-in-Chief Gen. Padma Jung Bahadur Rana and Maharaja of Kaski & Lamjung Sir Jung Bahadur Rana.


  • 1817–1835: Jung Bahadur Kunwar
  • 1835–1840: Second Lieutenant Jung Bahadur Kunwar
  • 1840–1841: Captain Jung Bahadur Kunwar
  • 1841–1845: Kaji Captain Jung Bahadur Kunwar
  • 1845–1848: Kaji Major-General Jung Bahadur Kunwar
  • 1848–1856: Kaji Major-General Jung Bahadur Kunwar Rana
  • 1856–1857: Kaji Commanding-General Jung Bahadur Kunwar Rana, Maharaja of Lamjung and Kaski
  • 1857–1858: His Highness Commanding-General Jung Bahadur Kunwar Rana, Maharaja of Lamjung and Kaski
  • 1858–1872: His Highness Commanding-General Sir Jung Bahadur Kunwar Rana, Maharaja of Lamjung and Kaski, GCB
  • 1872–1873: His Highness Commanding-General Sir Jung Bahadur Kunwar Rana, T'ung-ling-ping-ma-Kuo-Kang-wang, Maharaja of Lamjung and Kaski, GCB
  • 1873–1877: His Highness Commanding-General Sir Jung Bahadur Kunwar Rana, T'ung-ling-ping-ma-Kuo-Kang-wang, Maharaja of Lamjung and Kaski, GCB, GCSI




  1. ^ He was not actually a Rajput - the claim is considered to be fictitious.[8]


  1. ^ Google Books
  2. ^ Rana, Purushottam S.J.B. (1998). Jung Bahadur Rana: the story of his rise and glory. Book Faith India. p. 150. ISBN 81-7303-087-1. 
  3. ^ 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. 
  4. ^ Lal, C. K. (16 February 2001). "The Rana resonance". Nepali Times. Retrieved 17 September 2013. 
  5. ^ JBR, PurushottamShamsher (1990). Shree Teen Haruko Tathya Britanta (in Nepali). Bhotahity, Kathmandu: Vidarthi Pustak Bhandar. ISBN 99933-39-91-1. 
  6. ^ Conference of Mr Jean Français ambassador of France to Nepal, 24 April 1967.
  7. ^ From the Anglo-Nepalese War to World War II , ch. 5)
  8. ^ Bista, Dor Bahadur (1991). Fatalism and Development: Nepal's Struggle for Modernization. Orient Blackswan. p. 37. ISBN 978-8-12500-188-1. 

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

Jung Bahadur Rana
Born: 18 June 1817 Died: 25 February 1877
Regnal titles
Preceded by
New creation
Maharaja of Lamjang and Kaski
Succeeded by
Ranodip Singh Kunwar