Unification of Nepal
This article has multiple issues. Please help improve it or discuss these issues on the talk page. (Learn how and when to remove these template messages)(Learn how and when to remove this template message)
Nepal Before Unification was divide into many Small Kingdoms which were fighting each other.The states were Getting weaker internal rivalry and frequant Battel's. Unification of Nepal was started by King Prithivi Narayan Shah to Make small kingdom which were getting weaker due to internal rivalry and frequent battles to a Single Strong Kingdom in Mid-Eighteenth Century which was Ended after Sugauli Treaty.
- 1 Early rulers
- 2 King Prithivi Narayan Shah
- 3 Nuwakot
- 4 Kirtipur
- 5 Conquest of Southern Nepal and the Kathmandu Valley
- 6 Diplomatic relations
- 7 Establishment of a united Kingdom of Nepal
- 8 See also
- 9 Notes
- 10 References
Nepal's recorded history began with the Kiratis, who arrived in the Kathmandu valley in the 7th or 8th century BCE from the east. Little is known about them, other than their deftness as sheep farmers and fondness for carrying long knives. The Kirats ruled for about 1225 years (800 BCE – 300 CE); they had a total of 28 kings during that time. Their first and best remembered king was Yalambar Haang, who is mentioned in the epic Mahabharata.
The first record of the word Nepal is found in ancient Indian annals such as the puranas from the 4th century CE where an area known as 'Newal' or sometimes as 'Newar' is mentioned, referring to what is now known as the Kathmandu Valley. However, the area of the sovereign state of Nepal has changed from time to time during its history, expanding and shrinking in area since ancient times.
Of the kings originating inside or outside of modern Nepal, a common characteristic of attempting to unify Nepal from mostly west to east, along the southern track of the Himalayas and the northern plain of Ganges, can be identified. No Nepalese ruler has been recorded attempting to cross the Himalayas to expand their states into Tibet or China, and none has been recorded trying to cross the Ganges plain into modern India. For the most part, Nepalese rulers seem to have been focused on the territories that more or less comprise modern-day Nepal, between the region of Kashmir in the west and Bhutan in the east.
Nepal as a political region has been united by different kings of different kingdoms at various times in Nepalese history. Common tradition holds that among the first uniters of Nepal was a king by the name of Mandev, who ultimately controlled territory from the Brahmaputra River in the east to the Gandaki in the west. Recorded details of his unification, however, are scarce, and Mandev's actions and his very existence cannot be definitively confirmed. The same may be said for various early recorded and traditional (i.e. not necessarily recorded) rulers of Nepal, all of whose kingdoms apparently broke up when their dynasties died out. While records and documents of several such rulers do exist, a lack of interest has made their accessibility difficult and limited the number of translations and analyses.
King Prithivi Narayan Shah
King Prithvi Narayan Shah (1723–1775) was born in the Shah dynasty of Gorkha on 11 January 1723 (27 Poush 1779 B.S.) After the death of Narabhupal shah on 25th chaitra he became the king of Gorkha. He ascended to the throne of Gorkha kingdom on 3 April 1743. He was interested in politics and diplomacy and had interests in both visiting and conquering other countries since his days as prince. He decided to enlarge his kingdom that was confined to the small Gorkha region of present-day Nepal and had an area of just 2,500 square km (approx. 50 km x 50 km). 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. While he was successful at conquering the Kathmandu valley and the Sen kingdoms further east of the Kathmandu valley, his efforts were limited to the west of his homeland. He then attacked and absorbed dozens of other small principalities and gave a new name "Nepal" to his Gorkha kingdom. He was able to conquer some of the 22 principalities or kingdoms, known as the (thebaise raj-ya, and some of the 24 kingdoms (the chaubasi raj-ya), which were two sets of allies west of the King's homeland of Gorkha, in what is now called western Nepal.
Soon after he ascended the throne of Gorkha Kingdom, Shah tricked his way into the royal household of Bhaktapur for a number of months. He wanted the rich agricultural soil of the valley, and the strategic point of the Kathmandu valley as a transit point for expanding trade with both Tibet and India. Then he planned the conquest of the valley. To this end, he decided to first capture Nuwakot, which belonged to the state of Kantipur, as a strategic point. He also foresaw that taking over Nuwakot would significantly strengthen the position of his Gorkha nation and weaken the states occupying the Kathmandu Valley. Nuwakot held strategic importance, as there was already a fort there, and it had remained as a connecting pass the valley and Tibet.
Prithivi Narayan was a very ambitious king. Along with the invasion of the Gorkha he wanted it to protect it from the Gorkha troops, so he started to unify the small kingdoms to be a single country. One year after becoming King, in 1744 CE, Prithvi Narayan Shah attacked Nuwakot but was repelled because the Gorkha army was not well equipped. In addition, conflicts of interest between the Pandeys and Basnets – two important warrior clans in the Gorkha palace – arose to add domestic political tension. Shah then made Kalu Pande "Mul Kaji (equivalent to Prime Minister)" of his state and thus strengthened his domestic political position. Almost a year later, on 2 October 1744, he attacked Nuwakot again and won, thus expanding the bounds of his Gorkha state.
Kazi Kalu Pande was a wise, brave and a far-sighted statesman. King Prithvi Narayan Shah had great trust in him. It was Kalu Pande who advised the king to maintain peace and friendship with the neighbouring kingdoms. He was afraid that the neighbouring kingdoms. He was afraid that the neighbouring kings might attack Gorkha while Prithvi Narayan Shah would be away on his invasion campaign. Prithvi Narayan Shah thus sent Kalu Pande to hold talks with the king of Lamjung. Kalu Pande had a cordial talk with the king of Lamjung at the basin of the river, Chepe. Because of the diplomatic mind of Kalu Pande, an alliance could be made between Gorkha and Lamjung, the two traditional enemies. After that, Gorkha made an alliance with Kaski, Tanahun and Palpa.
Conquest of Nuwakot
Gorkha was now made secure from all sides. Both Prithvi Narayan Shah and Kalu Pande thought that it was the right time to invade Nuwakot. Under the command of Prithvi Narayan Shah himself, the Gorkha troops attacked Nuwakot on 26 September 1744 CE from three sides. A troop under the command of Kalu Pandey, ascended the hill from the north through Gerkhu. The Second troop took the Dharma Pani route under the command of Kirti Mahodam Shah. A third troop was under the command of Prithvi Narayan Shah himself, attacked from the front. Shankermani Rana, the commander of the Nuwakot army was killed in the battle-field and the troops fled to Belkot. Thus, Nuwakot fell in the hands of Prithvi Narayan Shah. Then Prithvi Narayan Shah attacked Belkot. Kalu Pandey was not in favour of the hasty action but Prithvi Narayan Shah, who was encouraged by his conquest of Nuwakot, gallantly attacked Belkot. The Gorkha troops suffered a heavy loss in this battle. At last, the Gorkha troops won a victory over Belkot. Jayanta Rana, who was, in the past, the commander of the Gorkha army during the reign of Narabhupal Shah, was the commander of the Malla troops installed at Belkot. It is said that Prithvi Narayan Shah ordered his soldiers to skin the living body of Jayanta Rana. He was said to have treated Jayanta Rana in that manner to show the fate of a betrayer of Gorkha. After the conquest of Nuwakot, Prithvi Narayan Shah began to control all the areas around the valley. He captured Naddum, Mahadev Pokhari, Dahachowk, Ippa, Malta, Siranchowk etc. He planned to impose an economic blockade on the Kathmandu valley.
War with Lamjung
Lamjung was the age old enemy of Gorkha. It broke the alliance with Gorkha, and taking advantage of the absence of the Gorkha army, crossed the Chepe and took Sirhanchowk. Prithvi Narayan Shah responded by sending an army under the command of Kriti Mahodam Shah and Bansa Gopal Panta. The Gorkha troops met the Lamjung-troops at Salimpa and a fierce battle was fought. The Gorkha troops defeated the Lamjung troops and captured it. Again, the Gorkha troops had to face the combined forces of Lamjung along with the twenty-four small principalities at Sirhanchowk. Reinforcements arrived from Nuwakot under Kriti Mahodam Shah, Kalu Pande and Ambar Pande. Rudra Shah from Gorkha sent more reinforcements. The Gorkha troops attacked the invaders in the middle of the monsoon and successfully drove them back. Many drowned in the rain-swollen Chepe. After that the `Chaubisi' were too weak to trouble Prithvi Narayan Shah any more.
Annexation of Tanahun
Meeting with a Yogi (Sage) : There is a story of a sage who happened to come to Gorkha from Benaras. Prithvi Narayan Shah welcomed him and looked after him properly. The sage was pleased with the king and told him to ask for a boon. Prithvi Narayan Shah asked for the whole kingdom of Nepal. The sage said, "This will be granted when you meet me in Benaras". After some time, Prithvi Narayan Shah went to Benaras and met the sage. The sage was again pleased with the king and said, "Your desire will be fulfilled. I hereby give you the whole kingdom of Nepal". When Prithvi Narayan Shah solicited the sage to take something in return for his offer as `Guru Bheti', the saga said, "When you have become the king of the whole of Nepal, you must provide the necessary facilities for the pilgrims to Gosainthan". Prithvi Narayan Shah readily promised to do so and came back to Nepal. But after establishing his sovereignty over the whole kingdom of Nepal, Prithvi Narayan Shah forgot his promise. Then the sage again came to Nepal to remind Prithvi Narayan Shah of his promise. Prithvi Narayan Shah then set aside the revenue from the Dhading district to provide facilities for pilgrims to Gosainthan.
Invasion of Kirtipur
After capturing Lamjung, Tanahun and other neighbouring territories, Prithvi Narayan Shah marched with his troops for the conquest of the valley. He first captured Farping, Bandegaon, Sunagaon, Khokana and other villages. Veteran leaders and warriors like Kalu Pande, Dalajit Shah, Dalamardan Shah, Tularam Pande and Bir Bhadra accompanied him. The Gorkha troops violently attacked Kirtipur. After a terrible fight for six hours, the Gorkha troops got a severe blow from the hands of the combined forces of Kirtipuris and Jaya Prakash's army. Prithvi Narayan Shah himself had a narrow escape. The brave 44 years old Kalu Pandey and four hundred Gorkhali troops were killed in the battle of Balkhu (Kirtipur). The Gorkha troops suffered a heavy loss and the surviving soldiers, along with the king, had to retreat back to Nuwakot.
- Victory Over the Muslim Forces
To defend the aggression of the Gorkhas, the king of Makawanpur, Digbandan Sen, appealed for help to Mir Kasim, the Muslim king of Bengal. Mir Kasim was preparing to wage war against the East India company. At that time, Mir Kasim was in need of friends, he also wanted desperately to test his newly organized army. So, he accepted the request of Digbandan Sen and he sent his 2,000 strong soldiers under the command of Gurgin Khan in 1763 CE. The Gorkhas defeated the well-equipped army of Gurgin Khan. The Muslim troops fled away from the battle-field and the Gorkhas captured their arms and ammunition. This victory over the Muslims raised the moral of the Gorkhas and discouraged the native states of India from interfering in the affairs of the Gorkhas.
Conquest of Makawanpur
Makawanpur controlled the southern routes to the Kathmandu valley. Prithvi Narayan Shah thought to conquer and occupy it. Because of the growing power of the Gorkhas, Makawanpur was terrified and the king of Makawanpur had planned to join in an alliance with Jaya Prakash Malla to subdue the Gorkhas. When Prithvi Narayan Shah came to know this, he sent an army under the command of Kahar Simha Basnyat, Bansaraj Pande and Ram Krishna Kunwar. The Makawanpur forces were fefeated in the ten-hour battle and they surrendered before the gallant Gorkhas on 21 August 1762 CE. On the war, 100 Gorkhali and 400 Makawanpur soldiers were killed. Then the Gorkhas attacked and occupied Hariharpur, Timalkot and Sindhulikot. The Gorkhali troops arrested Digbandan Sen, the king of Makawanpur, on 13 February 1763 CE.
Victory over the British force
Jaya Prakash Malla of Kathmandu was alarmed at the growing power of Prithvi Narayan Shah. He sought help from the East India Company in order to defend his kingdom from the Gorkha aggression, just as the king of Makawanpur had appealed to Mir Kasim. The East India Company sent 2,400 soldiers in 1767 under the command of General Kinloch who tried to enter Nepal via Sindhuli. The 120 Gorkha soldiers under the leadership of Bir Bhadra Thapa and Kazi Bansa Raj Pande, attacked them in the hills above Sindhuli. The British soldiers were not aware of the techniques of hill warfare or the bravery of the Gorkhas. They could not fight against the Gorkhas and ran away from the battle-field. This time also, the Gorkhas captured a huge supply of ammunition and cannons which they used in future wars.
Kalu Pandey employed a strategy involving a blockade of the Kathmandu Valley, and subsequently took over the surrounding settlements and strategic positions around the valley. In the next two years (during 1745-46) he captured Mahadevpokhari, Pharping, Chitlang, Dharmasthali, Naldrum, Siranchok and Shivapuri. He then focused his attention on Kirtipur and Makawanpur, two palaces which were also strategic military targets. Kirtipur was in an elevated position with a fort surrounded by walls and jungles, an ideal place to make inroads into the valley. Shah thought that if he could take over Kirtipur, occupying the rest of the valley would be much easier. On 4 December 1757 he made his first attack on Kirtipur. In this war he lost his strong general Kalu pandey which was a great loss for gorkha. Kalu Pandey had told him that it was not the right time to attack Kritpur. His body was buried in Kirtipur. Prithvi Narayan Shah himself was nearly killed in the battle. As a result, the Gorkha army, having lost a great deal of morale, was defeated. It is said that as revenge for his two earlier defeats, The Gorkha army was repelled again in August 1765.
After two defeats, the Gorkha army changed its strategy again and surrounded Kirtipur during the harvest season, effectively laying siege to the stronghold. The Gorkha army also took over the nearby Balaju fort. After several months of this blockade, the people of Kirtipur could not even get water to drink and were forced to surrender to the Gorkha army on 17 March 1766. This time the Gorkha army took over Kirtipur without a fight. Prithvi Narayan Shah had his army cut off the noses and lips of all the people of Kirtipur.
Conquest of Southern Nepal and the Kathmandu Valley
As Nuwakot was a key point for Kathmandu’s trade with Tibet, Makawanpur in the south was equally important for trade with India. While the battle to surround Kathmandu was going on in the north, the Gorkha army captured Sindhulikot, Timilakot and Hariharpur in the south and southeast of modern-day Nepal before it entered into the Makawanpurgadhi territories. Makawanpur was captured after only 10 hours of battle in August 1762. In 1763 CE, the Gorkha army conquered seven other villages, including Dhulikhel and Banepa, and expanded the Gorkha state's border line further north. With this, the Kathmandu Valley was completely surrounded and blockaded. After all the four passes (Sanga, Baad, Pati and Chandragiri Bhanjyang, also known as Char Bhanjyang) of the Kathmandu Valley were controlled by Prithvi Narayan Shah, the eventual lack of salt, oil, spices, and even clothes led to turmoil in the valley and disaster struck Kathmandu. When the local government failed to pay its soldiers, the morale of its military dwindled.
The king of Kathmandu at the time, Jaya Prakash Malla, then asked for military aid from the British in British India. In August 1767, when the forces of the British India arrived in Sindhuligadhi, the Gorkha military conducted guerrilla attacks against them. Many of the British Indian forces were killed and the rest eventually fled, leaving behind a huge amount of weapons and ammunitions, which were seized by the Gorkha army.
This boosted the morale of the forces of Prithvi Narayan Shah and further demoralized the kings of the Kathmandu Valley, among which was the king of Kantipur. In addition to this, the political situation of the valley, political wrangling inside the palace, and personal enmity had rendered the people of Kantipur very weak because Jaya Prakash Malla, the king of Kantipur, was of a paranoid nature, and his own brother and courtiers became dissatisfied with him. The state of Lalitpur had also faced chaos after the death of its king Yogendra Malla. Six pradhans (courtiers) then took power into their own hands, and put Tej Narsingh Malla on the throne; but the actual power in Lalitpur remained with the pradhans. In Bhaktapur as well, the palace of King Ranjeet Malla was in disarray due to domestic political wrangling. When Ranjeet Malla wanted to declare his two-year-old son as his heir, a queen (not through marriage) opposed it. This forced the king to declare his older illegitimate son as his heir to the throne. This only fueled conflict in the palace, as a result of which the palace was weakened further.
While the three kingdoms of the Kathmandu Valley were engaged in clashes and enmity, Prithvi Narayan Shah used this opportunity to impose an economic blockade against the entire valley region. He closed the trade route to Tibet, which passed through Nuwakot. The Gorkha army marched into the valley. On 25 September 1768, when the people of Kathmandu were celebrating the Festival of Indrajatra, Prithvi Narayan Shah won an easy victory over Kantipur.
Some historians doubt this version of the history written by the conquerors. They say that the valley was overtaken not in September but in cold December. The official version of overwhelmingly large force that captured Kathmandu is considered historically inaccurate. The truth, however, is that the powerful Pradhan courtiers of Kathmandu were promised lucrative positions in the new Kingdom in exchange for their help in killing the beleaguered king. The king realized that he had enemies galore and fled to the neighboring Bhaktapur, leaving the throne empty in Kathmandu. Upon easing his way to the throne of the Kathmandu, the very next day, he ordered the beheading of all of the Pradhan courtiers and their extended society.
Eleven days later (6 October 1768), he conquered Lalitpur. On 14 April 1769, he gained the town of Thimi and seven months later (17 November 1769) he took over Bhaktapur. In this way, the whole Kathmandu Valley came under the control of Prithvi Narayan Shah.He also conquered till Patna (presently in India). He was a great ruler.
Prithivi narayan Shah was very effortful to have good relations with different states for making his unification campaign a success. As a representative of his father, he had a pact with Lamjung, the old age enemy. Later he himself signed a treaty with King of Lamjung through the efforts sought be Kalu Pandey. Relations with the Malla Kingdoms was also important. PNS signed separate treaties with Kantipur and Bhaktapur, which are as follows:
- to circulate the currency of either states in both states.
- to carry joint trade with Tibet and share the incomes.
- to enjoy rights to depute a state representative to Tibet.
- to allow Kantipur to use the territory of Nuwakot for trade with Tibet.
Establishment of a united Kingdom of Nepal
After his conquest of the Kathmandu Valley, Prithvi Narayan Shah conquered other smaller countries south of the valley to keep other smaller fiefdoms near his Gurkha state out of the influence and control of the British rule. After his kingdom spread out from north to south, he made Kantipur the capital of expanded country which was known as Kingdom of Gorkha (Gorkha Samrajya).It was renamed as Kingdom of Nepal in 1930. by King Tribhuvan Bir Bikram Shah
- Reed, David. p. 208.
- Fr. Giuseppe. (1799). An account of the kingdom of Nepal. Asiatic Researches. Vol 2. (1799). pp. 307–322.
- Reed, David. (2002). The Rough Guide to Nepal. DK Publishing, Inc.