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Limbuwan (लिम्बुवन्)

Yakthung Laaje

Limbu Kingdom
Limbuwan villages near Mt. Kangchenjunga in Sikkim, India.
Limbuwan villages near Mt. Kangchenjunga in Sikkim, India.
Yakthung Laaje
9 Districts advocated by Federal Limbuwan State Council in dark blue, historic Limbuwan maximum extent light blue, thick lines current international boundaries
9 Districts advocated by Federal Limbuwan State Council in dark blue, historic Limbuwan maximum extent light blue, thick lines current international boundaries
Country   Nepal
Nepal regionEastern Nepal
Country India
India regionSikkim, India
Country Bhutan
Bhutan regionWestern Bhutan
 • Total6,316 sq mi (16,358 km2)
 • Total3,574,770
 • Density570/sq mi (220/km2)

Limbuwan is an area of the Himalayan region of the Indian subcontinent, historically made up of 10 Limbu kingdoms, now part of Nepal, northern Sikkim in India and western Bhutan. Limbuwan means "abode of the Limbus" or "Land of the Limbus".[1] "Yakthung Laaje" in original Limbu language which means "the country of the Yakthungs".

In modern times, a political movement in Nepal has developed, which recognises nine districts in eastern Nepal as Limbuwan and has demanded an autonomous ethnic province in Nepal comprising those districts and named Limbuwan state. The nine districts are Taplejung, Panchthar, Ilam, Jhapa, Terhathum, Sankhuwasabha, Dhankuta, Sunsari and Morang.[2] Limbuwan is the land east of the Arun and Koshi Rivers and west of Kanchenjunga Mountain and the Mechi River.[3] Eastern Nepal and the dominant ethnic groups of that region are indigenously called Kirat.[4] The land was sub-divided into three regions, namely, the Wallo, Majh and Pallo Kirat.[5] Limbuwan is also called Pallo-kirat 'Further Kirat'.[6]


Kiranti ethnic groups in orange, which form the basis of the political movement, Federal Limbuwan State Council. (note that Kulung Kirats territories are mistakenly marked as Gurung territories in this map)

The Ten Kings of Limbus came together to formally declare all the ten kingdoms between the Arun River and Teesta River to be called "Yakthung Laaje".

The ten rulers, their kingdoms and their forts:

  1. Samlupi Samba Hang, King of Tambar and his capital Tambar Yiok.
  2. Sisiyen Shering Hang, King of Mewa and Maiwa kingdoms and his capital Meringden Yiok.
  3. Thoktokso Angbo Hang, King of Athraya and his capital Pomajong.
  4. Thindolung Khokya Hang, King of Yangwarok and his capital Hastapojong Yiok
  5. Yengaso Papo Hang, King of Panthar and his capital at Yashok and Pheden (Phe meaning "plain", den meaning "place").
  6. Shengsengum Phedap Hang, King of Phedap and his capital at Poklabung.
  7. Mung Tai Chi Emay Hang, King of Ilam and his capital at Phakphok.
  8. Soiyak Lado Hang, King of Bodhey (Choubise) and his capital at Shanguri Yiok.
  9. Tappeso Perung Hang, King of Thala and his capital at Thala Yiok.
  10. Taklung Khewa Hang, King of Chethar and his capital at Chamling Chimling Yiok.

Rise of King Mawrong[edit]

After a brief period, King Mawrong Hang came to prominence and took over Terai lands of Chethar, Bodhey, Panthar, and Ilam (present day Jhapa, Morang Sunsari and Dhankuta). He named his Kingdom Morang after his name and rose to power. He subdued all the Ten Limbu Kings of Limbuwan and became their overlord. He died without any male heir and King Uba Hang took over as supreme ruler of Limbuwan in 849 AD- 865 AD. He made many religious and social reforms in Limbuwan. Uba Hang's worthy son Mabo Hang succeeded him in 865 AD and ruled till 880 AD. Uba Hang kept on with the reforms his father had started. Uba Hang was succeeded by his son Muda Hang. Muda Hang was a weak ruler so the local chiefs started ruling their areas independently. Muda Hang was succeeded by his son Wedo Hang, by this time Limbuwan was in chaos and every principality was ruling independently and fighting with each other. Wedo hang was murdered and his son Chemjonghang succeeded.

Rise of King Sirijonga Haang[edit]

During this chaos and the waning phase of King Chemjong hang, King Sirijonga of Yangwarok kingdom rose to power. He subdued all the independent rulers and took over as the new supreme ruler of Limbuwan. He built two big forts in Phedap (present-day Terhathum district) and Chainpur (present-day Sankhuwasabha district). The remains of the structure still stand today. One of legacy was that he brought all the Limbus under the same writing system in Limbu script. He also brought feudal reform in Limbuwan and divided Limbuwan into new boundaries and districts.

Eventually after the establishment of Namgyal dynasty in Sikkim and under the Lho-Mehn-Tsong Tsum, a treaty between the Bhutia, Lepcha and Limbu people of the Sikkim area, Limbuwan lost the area between Kunchenjunga range (present-day eastern border of Nepal) and Teesta River to the Bhutia Kings of Sikkim. Since then Limbuwan comprises all the area between Arun River and Koshi River in the west to Kunchenjunga Mountains and Mechi River in the east.

At the beginning of the 15th century, the descendants of King Sirijonga became weak and Limbuwan again fell into chaos and anarchy. At the time, the two brothers from Kamrup Assam, had came and proclaimed the independent country of Phedap, Pokblabang and Bijayapur, Morang. The elder brother Sidi Ing became king of Poklabang, Phedap and the Lowland Limbuwan Kingdom of Morang was King Sangla Ing. After the 17th generations of the King Sidi Ing, got a glorius king Tena Haang. He had seven sons and called them as "Satre Nuhang" or "Sat Raya." Among of them Yen Haang Raya was the king of Phedap and the descendants of him goes on Sambahangphe Limbus. The 21st descendant of King Sidi Ing, named Aatahaang Raya made a treaty with Gorkha King Prithvi Narayan Shah in 1774 A.D. Some of the descendants of Yen Haang Raya were not in favor of the treaty with Gorkha kings because they wanted to make their own territorial ruling system in great Phedap Yakhung Laje.

The other brother King Sangla Ing declared independence and became the first independent ruler of Morang in a century. His son Pungla Ing adopted Hinduism and changed his name into Aamar Raya Ing. He was succeeded by his descendants, who also bore Hindu names. Kirti Narayan Raya Ing, Aap Narayan Raya Ing, Jarai Narayan Raya Ing, Ding Narayan Raya Ing, and Bijay Narayan Raya Ing.

King Bijay Narayan Raya Sanlga Ing built a new town in the middle of Varatappa and Shangori fort and named it Bijaypur after him. He had no issue and died without an heir.

Bijaypur town was founded in 1584 AD and is currently located next to Dharan, Sunsari District. Bijaypur town remained the capital of Morang Kingdom and Limbuwan region until the Gorkha Limbuwan War in 1774 AD.

Morang Kingdom was the most powerful and influential of all the Kingdoms in Limbuwan region and was able to establish its hegemony among all the other Limbu rulers. But in 1609 AD Kirant King Lo hang Sen of Sen dynasty captured Morang and ruled it for seven generations.

King of Phedap Murray Hang was made the chief minister of Morong. He stayed in Bijaypur and the King of Morong made his post hereditary. Murray Hang was given a Hindu name and he became Bidya Chandra Raya. His descendants remained Chief Ministers of Morong until Buddhi Karna Raya Khebang. Buddhi Karna succeeded the last Sen King of Morang Kama Datta sen and sat in the throne of Bijaypur Palace in 1769 AD.

Annexation into Nepal[edit]

Meanwhile, the Gorkha King Prithivi Narayan Shah was on a campaign to conquer all the hill kingdoms into his Empire. He attacked Limbuwan on two fronts. After the Limbuwan Gorkha War 1771-1774 AD, the Limbu ministers of Morong, and Limbu rulers of the ten principalities came to an agreement with the King of Gorkha. With the Limbuwan Gorkha treaty of 1774, Limbuwan was annexed to Nepal.

Limbuwan was attacked several times by Sikkim after 1774 AD. Battle of Morong during the British Gurkha war took place in Morong. Limbuwan was divided into present-day administrative districts in Panchayat era by King Mahendra. Taplejung, Therathum, Ilam, Panthar, and Morang was named after their original names, whereas names of the other districts in Limbuwan were Hinduised.

Aboriginal inhabitants[edit]

The original inhabitants of Limbuwan are the Limbus [7] From the establishment of Limbuwan, these cultures have maintained their independent identity in Limbuwan coexisting peacefully with each other.[8] Today, there is a movement for regional autonomy.


The later arrivals are Newars, Bahuns as missionaries of Hindu religion in the 1790s during the reign of King Prithivi Narayan Shah, Pratap Singh Shah and Rana Bahadur Shah. The Gurungs, Magars and chhetris living in Limbuwan are also later arrivals who came as soldiers of Gorkha King during the Limbuwan Gorkha War in the 1780s. The Madheshi settlers moved north and east from the Mithila region in the west, and thus also came during this time to cultivate the terai lands of Limbuwan.[9]

Limbus have become minorities, or they have become homeless/landless in their own Homeland today, due to mass immigration in the eighteenth century that was politically and militarily supported by King of Nepal to displace and destroy Limbus, Limbu culture, Limbu literacies and to cultivate in their fertile lands.[10] The arrival of the non-limbu settler was part of a policy instituted by Kathmandu encouraging the immigration of Hindus into Limbuwan.[11] Limbus, for their part, were urged to settle these emigrants of their lands.[12]

The Limbuwan Gorkha War was a series of battles fought between the King of Gorkhas and the rulers of various principalities of Limbuwan from 1771 to 1774 AD. The war came to an end in 1774 with the Limbuwan Gorkha treaty which recognized Limbu peoples' right to Kipat land in Limbuwan and full autonomy. History of Limbuwan covers the rest of the Limbuwan History.

After the conquest of Majh Kirant (Kirant Rai kingdoms) by the Gorkhas, they invaded Limbuwan on two fronts. One front was in Chainpur (present-day Sankhuwasabha District) and the second front was in Bijaypur (present-day Dharan, Sunsari District). Bijaypur was the capital of the Morang the Kingdom of Limbuwan.

Migration of the Limbus[edit]

Archival research for the period 1830 to 1917 reveals that the British administrators were conscious that the Limbus were indigenous to Sikkim.[13] Only small portion of Limbus migrated into Sikkim in 19th century.[14] Following the end of Sikkim-Gorkha war at Limbuwan, the Gorkha officers started searching Limbus who had sided with the Sikkimese King or Sikkhim Kingdon. To weaken the Limbu collective power, Gorkha officers falsely accused of many Limbus of betraying Gorkha Kingdon; then, they captured, tortured, and executed a huge number of Limbus. Seeing this, all the Limbus who had fought against the Gorkhas by siding with the Sikkimese King, they assembled and decided to leave Limbuwan forever. About 32,000 in number and migrated in three groups. The first group went to Sikkim and settles in Rung, Rhino and Magnesia villages, the second group migrated to Bhutan and settled in Kuching, Tendu, and Jumsa villages and third group migrated to Assam and settles in Beni, Kalchini and other Meche and Koch villages.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ P.46 National Costumes of Nepal By Persijs Muiznieks, 23 Aug 2011
  2. ^
  3. ^ P. 46. National Costumes of Nepal by Persijs Muiznieks, 23 Aug 2011.
  4. ^ History, Culture and Customs of Sikkim by J.R. Subba, 2008.
  5. ^ History, Culture and Customs of Sikkim By J. R. Subba, 2008
  6. ^ P.5 Democratic Innovations in Nepal: A Case Study of Political Acculturation By Bhuwan Lal Joshi, Leo E. Rose, 1966
  7. ^ Page 150 Encyclopedia of world cultures: South Asia, Volume 2 By Paul Hockings G. K. Hall, 1992
  8. ^ Routledge Handbook of Asian Borderlands By Alexander Horstmann, Martin Saxer, Alessandro Rippa Routledge, 9 Mar 2018
  9. ^ Land Tenure and Taxation in Nepal: The Jagir, Rakam, and Kipat tenure systems By Mahesh Chandra Regmi, 1965
  10. ^ Land Tenure and Taxation in Nepal: The Jagir, Rakam, and Kipat tenure systems By Mahesh Chandra Regmi, 1965
  11. ^ P.54, land and social change in east Nepal By Lionel Caplan, 2000
  12. ^ P.54, land and social change in east Nepal By Lionel Caplan, 2000
  13. ^ Page 281 Readings in Indian Sociology: Volume VIII: Political Sociology of India By Anand Kumar, 31 Dec 2013
  14. ^ Page 281 Readings in Indian Sociology: Volume VIII: Political Sociology of India By Anand Kumar, 31 Dec 2013
  • Chemjong, Iman Singh (2003). History and Culture of Kirat People (4th ed.). Kathmandu: Kirat Yakthung Chumlung. ISBN 99933-809-1-1.
  • Saatrenuhang Tumbahangpe Genealogy and Phedap Limbuwan, 2063 V.S., Aashad,. Myanglung: Jethansingh Bhagimansingh Tumbahangphe Family. ISBN 99946-969-7-1.

External links[edit]