Mahendra of Nepal

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Mahendra Bir Bikram Shah Dev
Portrait of Mahendra.jpg
King of Nepal
Reign13 March 1955 – 31 January 1972
Coronation2 May 1956[citation needed]
Born(1920-06-11)11 June 1920
Narayanhity Royal Palace,[citation needed] Kathmandu, Kingdom of Nepal
Died31 January 1972(1972-01-31) (aged 51)
Diyalo Bangala, Bharatpur, Kingdom of Nepal [1]
SpouseCrown Princess Indra Rajya Lakshmi Devi
(m. 1940–1950, her death)
Queen Ratna Rajya Lakshmi Devi (m. 1952–1972, his death)
IssueRabindra Shah (through concubine)
Princess Shanti
Princess Sharada
King Birendra
King Gyanendra
Princess Shobha
Prince Dhirendra [2][3]
DynastyShah dynasty
FatherTribhuvan of Nepal
MotherKanti Rajya Lakshmi Devi

Mahendra Bir Bikram Shah Dev (Nepali: महेन्द्र वीर विक्रम शाह; 11 June 1920 – 31 January 1972) was King of Nepal from 1955 to 1972.[4] Mahendra was born on June 11, 1920 to King Tribhuvan of Nepal. Although Tribhuvan was nominally king since 1911. Mahendra was captive in Narayanhity Royal Palace, virtually a gilded cage. In 1940 he married Indra Rajya Lakshmi Devi, daughter of General Hari Shamsher Rana. Mahendra had 4 sons, Non Prince Ravindra, Birendra, Gyanendra, Dhirendra and three daughters Shanti, Sharada, and Shobha. Crown Princess Indra died in 1950. In 1952, Mahendra married Indra's younger sister, Ratna Rajya Lakshmi Devi. This marriage produced no children as King Mahendra had married on the condition his personal life shall not hinder his national duties and the to be queen agreed to be sterile.


King Mahendra and Queen Ratna in 1957 AD

Mahendra succeeded Tribhuvan as King of Nepal. He was crowned on 2 May 1956.[5][6]

1960 Coup d'état[edit]

On 15 December 1960, the then King Mahendra suspended the constitution, dissolved the elected parliament,[7] dismissed the cabinet,[8] imposed direct rule and imprisoned the then-prime minister B. P. Koirala and his closest government colleagues.[9][10] Mahendra instituted a Panchayat hierarchical system of village, district and national councils,[11] a variant of guided democracy. He pursued a foreign policy of neutrality between China and India.

Rule in Panchayat System (1960–72)[edit]

In 1960, King Mahendra used his emergency powers and took charge of the State once again claiming that the Congress government had fostered corruption, promoted party above national interest, failed to maintain law and order and ‘encouraged anti-national elements’. Political parties were outlawed and all prominent political figures, including the Prime Minister were put behind bars. Civil liberties were curtailed and press freedom muzzled. King Mahendra, then, through an ‘exercise of the sovereign power and prerogatives inherent in us’ promulgated a new constitution on December, 1962 introducing a party-less Panchayat system. The political system (Panchayat System) was a party-less "guided" democracy in which the people could elect their representatives, while real power remained in the hands of the monarch.[12] Dissenters were called anti-national elements.[13]

The Panchayat System was formulated by King Mahendra after overthrowing the first democratically elected government and dissolving the parliament in 1960. On 26 December 1961, King Mahendra appointed a council of 5 ministers to help run the administration. Several weeks later, political parties were declared illegal. At first, the Nepali Congress leadership propounded a non-violent struggle against the new order and formed alliances with several political parties, including the Gorkha Parishad and the United Democratic Party. Early in 1961, however, the king had set up a committee of 4 officials from the Central Secretariat to recommend changes in the constitution that would abolish political parties and substitute a "National Guidance" system based on local panchayat led directly by the king.[citation needed]

Mahendra implemented a land reform policy, which provided land to many landless people. The Mahendra Highway (also called East-West Highway) that runs along the entire Terai belt in southern Nepal was constructed during his reign. He launched the Back to the Village National Campaign in 1967 which was one of his largest rural development efforts. He also played a key role in making Nepal a member of the United Nations in 1955.

British Field Marshal[edit]

King Mahendra was appointed as a British Field Marshal in 1962.

King Mahendra and Queen's visit to USA in 1967[edit]

King Mahendra and the Queen Ratna were greeted by the then President of USA, Lyndon B Johnson and Mrs. Johnson in Washington DC in 1967. The royal couple of Nepal was greeted with the 'guard of honor'.[14]


King Mahendra was given a gift of Ilyushin Il-14 in Dec 1958 for private use by Nikita Khrushchev. The plane had a kitchen, couches and bathrooms.[15]

Death and survivors[edit]

Mahendra suffered a massive second heart attack whilst on a winter hunting trip in Chitwan where he was attended to by his trusted Physicians Dr Mrigendra Raj Pandey and Dr Sachey Kumar Pahari. King Mahendra was in a stable but critical condition and eventually breathed his last at Dialo Bangala, the royal palace in Bharatpur on 31 January 1972. The King's body was subsequently flown to Kathmandu by helicopter in preparation for the State Funeral.

His son Birendra assumed the throne on 24 February 1975 but perished in the Nepalese royal massacre on 1 June 2001.






  1. ^
  2. ^ "King Mahendra of Nepal".
  3. ^ "Late King Mahendra with his family".
  4. ^ "1954 50p 1rs king mahendra".
  5. ^ "Selected Originals Nepal - Coronation Of…".
  6. ^ Pathé, British. "Nepal - Coronation Of King Mahendra". Retrieved 20 July 2016.
  7. ^ "Good or bad, right or wrong, for better or for worse, King Mahendra bequeathed a legacy that has shaped the course of political events in Nepal for four long decades".
  8. ^ Whelpton, John (17 February 2005). The monarchy in full control:1961-1979. ISBN 9780521804707.
  9. ^ "Bisheshwor Prasad Koirala". 8 September 1914. Archived from the original on 11 November 2013. Retrieved 26 August 2011.
  10. ^ "Permanent rebellion: The story of B.P. Koirala". Retrieved 26 August 2011.
  11. ^ "Down came the king...Etihas ko ek kal khanda...Navaraj Subedi".
  12. ^ "The Panchayat System under King Mahendra". Library of Congress Country Studies. Retrieved 4 September 2013.
  13. ^ "The Koirala Complex". Republica. Archived from the original on 1 November 2013. Retrieved 31 October 2013.
  14. ^ "Late King Mahendra and Queen's visit to USA in 1967". Archived from the original on 23 July 2015. Retrieved 23 July 2015.
  15. ^ "Letter from Warren W Unna to Walter Rogers" (PDF). 22 March 2020. p. 7. Archived (PDF) from the original on 22 March 2020. Retrieved 15 July 2020.
  16. ^ "ODM of Nepal: King Tribhuvan Silver Jubilee Medal 1935". Retrieved 20 July 2016.
  17. ^ "Grand State Banquet". Archived from the original on 5 March 2016. Retrieved 20 July 2016.
  18. ^ Presidência da República
  19. ^ Benelux Royal Archived 28 September 2015 at the Wayback Machine
Preceded by
Tribhuvan Bir Bikram Shah
Crown Prince of Nepal
Succeeded by
Gyanendra Bir Bikram Shah
Preceded by
Gyanendra Bir Bikram Shah
Crown Prince of Nepal
Succeeded by
Birendra Bir Bikram Shah
Preceded by
Tribhuvan Bir Bikram Shah
King of Nepal