Shah dynasty

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Shah dynasty
Founded 16th century
Founder Yashobramha Shah
Final ruler Gyanendra Bir Bikram Shah
Current head Gyanendra Bir Bikram Shah
Deposition 28 May 2008

The Shah dynasty was the ruling dynasty of the Gorkha Kingdom until 1768 and the ruling dynasty of the Kingdom of Nepal from 1768 to 28 May 2008. They claim being descendants of Parmara clan of Rajputs.[1]

Beginning of the Shah dynasty[edit]

Sri Vikramāditya and Salivahana were powerful kings of the solar dynasty (Suryabansi) who sought out Kings (rajas) and place them in thrones. Among these one was Rishi-raj Rana-ji, of the lunar dynasty (Chandrabansi) who was made the raja of Chitaur-garh and received title of Bhattarak.[2] For 13 generations they ruled independently. Finally Yavanas (Musalmans) in terms of Dev-sarma Bhattatark win over Bhattarark and have to gave the name of Bhattarak and retained only his original caste-surname of Rana-ji. Four generations of rajas retained the title of Rana-ji and Rava was added to 17 further kings.

The Emperior Akbar want to marry Fatte Sinha Rana-ji Rava's daughter but was denied to caste differences and there was war and many Rajput including Fatte Sinha was killed. The survivors, under Udaybam Rana-ji Rava founded Udaypur and settled there and Manmath Rana-ji Rava went to Ujjain.[2]

Manmath Rana-ji's the youngest son went to northern hills and arrived to Ridi. In Saka 1417 (1945 AD) he set out from Ridi and reached Sargha.[2] Then he went to Khium, a place in Bhirkot, bout its waste land into cultivation. In that place two sons were born to him, Kancha and Micha.[2] Their bartabandha (taking the Bharmanical thread) was performed there, and daughters of Raghibanshi Rajputs were brought for the pains for them to marry. The elder with his rani went to Dhor and conquered Mangart and reigned over Garhon, Sathum, Birkot and Dhor. The younger Micha Khan went to Nuwakot (not near the Noakot near Kathmandu, but another far to the west) with his rani and ruled over it.[2] Seven rajas ruled Nuwakot. Kumandan, the son of Jagdeva Khan, obtained sovereignty over Kaski. He pleased the Emperor in something, and received from him the title of Sah. He had seven sons – of which first succeeded him government of Kaski, while second one Kalu Sah was sent to Dura Danda in Lamjung at the peoples request to become their king. Kalu Sah was killed by Sekhant tribe and another son Yasobramha Sah was king of Lamjung.[2]

In the 1500s, Prince Yashobramha Shah of Kaski (son of King Kulamandan Shah) was enthroned in the principality of Lamjung. The rulers of the neighbouring principality of Ligligkot, now in Gorkha, were the Ghale people. The Shah dynasty defeated the Ghale people and conquered the area.

Dravya Shah[edit]

Dravya Shah was the first Shah king of Gorkha. Before his rule, Gorkha used to be ruled by local Ghale people. They used to organise annual race to choose their king. Dravya Shah was not a physically robust man but he tricked his way to the win with the backing of the Bhattarai, Aryal, Adhikari, Pant and the Acharya clans of Brahmin. By 1570, when Dravya Shah died, the running race tradition was but a memory among the people. Dravya Shah used the Magar army to invade neighbouring states and his successors continued this aggression to increase the kingdom's territory.

Absolute monarchy (1768–1846)[edit]

In 1743, Prithvi Narayan Shah came to the throne of Gorkha. He declared war with other principalities, defeating them one by one and eventually established the new kingdom of unified Nepal in September 1768. He became the first King of Nepal (unified). He, his sons and their successors continued fighting and defeating other kingdoms and enlarging his Nepal kingdom. However, in 1814, the Anglo–Nepalese War between Nepal and the East India Company began. The Shah king was thoroughly defeated in the war by 1815. By 1816, Nepal had lost one third of its territory, most of which the Shah kings had won since the 1790s. The Shah kings continued to rule as absolute monarch until 1846 when the political order changed from absolute monarchy to a constitutional monarchy.

Hereditary prime ministers (1846–1951)[edit]

Nepal in its region

In 1846, the Rana dynasty gained power in Nepal. The Rana became prime minister and reduced the King of Nepal to a figurehead position. The Ranas ruled Nepal as hereditary prime ministers though in the name of the figurehead king. The Ranas became so powerful that the Shah king King Tribhuvan had to go in exile in 1950 to India to save himself and his family including the crown prince Mahendra. After India became a secular state in 1950 and retired all its remaining rajahs, Nepal was left the only Hindu kingdom in the world. In 1951, with the help of India, a popular politician common man Matrika Prasad Koirala became the prime minister, the king returned to Kathmandu, the Shah dynasty regained control and the Rana prime minister Mohan Shamsher Jang Bahadur Rana had to resign and lost all power.

King Tribhuvan ruled until 1955 and King Mahendra ruled until 1972 when his son Birendra became the king.

Constitutional monarchy (1990–2008)[edit]

In 1990, under King Birendra, Nepal became a constitutional monarchy. King Birendra believed in cooperation between absolute power of the monarchy and democratic governance. His brother, Gyanendra and his wife Queen Aishwarya staunchly opposed Birendra's view.[citation needed]

Murder of the royal family[edit]

On 1 June 2001, a number of members of the Shah dynasty were murdered in the royal palace. A High Commission report concluded that the royal family was slaughtered by Crown Prince Dipendra. This remains controversial.[citation needed] Among the dead were the Crown Prince's father, King Birendra and his brother, Prince Nirajan. After the attack, Dipendra was in a coma and was declared king for a short time. He died a few days later. Gyanendra Bir Bikram Shah Dev, Dipendra's uncle, took the throne. In February 2005, he dismissed the parliament in order to govern in his own right.

Abolition of the Shah monarchy[edit]

Mohar of king Prithvi Narayan Shah dated Saka Era 1685 (AD 1763)

On 24 December 2007, the Nepalese Constituent Assembly met. It was decided by majority vote that the monarchy would be abolished in 2008 after the Constituent Assembly elections.[3] On 28 May 2008, the Assembly declared Nepal a Federal Democratic Republic and the monarchy was abolished, removing the Shah dynasty from power. Kul Bahadur Gurung said of the 601 member assembly, 560 voted in favour, 4 were against and 37 were absent or abstained.[citation needed] After this Assembly agreement involving the Nepali Congress, the Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Marxist–Leninist) and the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist), Gyanendra stepped down.

Gyanendra vacated his palace in Kathmandu which later became a museum. Until they could find permanent accommodation, the royal couple were offered residence as commoners at the Nagarjuna Palace, a former royal summer residence. The Nagarjuna palace lies in forested hills about eight kilometres (five miles) northwest of Kathmandu.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ History of Nepal
  2. ^ a b c d e f Daniel Wright, History of Nepāl, Cambridge University Press, 1877, Nepal
  3. ^ "Nepalese monarchy to be abolished." BBC 24 December 2007 Accessed 25 December 2007.

External links[edit]