History of Nepal
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|History of Nepal|
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Due to the arrival of disparate settler groups from outside through the ages, it is now a multi-ethnic, multi-cultural, multilingual country. Central Nepal was split in three kingdoms from the 15th century until the 18th century, when it was unified under the Shah monarchy. The national language of Nepal is Nepali, which is also the most-spoken language of Nepal.
Nepal experienced a struggle for democracy in the 20th century. During the 1990s and until 2008, the country was in civil strife. A peace treaty was signed in 2008 and elections were held in the same year.
Many of the ills of Nepal have been blamed on the royal family of Nepal. In a historical vote for the election of the constituent assembly, Nepalese voted to oust the monarchy in Nepal. In June 2008, Nepalese ousted the royal household. Nepal was formally renamed the Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal when it became a federal republic.
- 1 Toponymy
- 2 Early ages
- 2.1 Legends and Ancient times
- 2.2 Legendary accounts of the Kirati Period
- 2.3 Thakuri Dynasty
- 2.4 Malla Dynasty
- 2.5 Shah Dynasty, unification of Nepal
- 3 Kingdom of Nepal
- 4 Federal Democratic Republic
- 5 See also
- 6 Footnotes
- 7 References
- 8 External links
The word Nepal is first attested in the Atharvaveda Parisista (c. 1978). "Nepal" was derived from the Sanskrit nipalaya, which means "at the foot of the mountains" or "abode at the foot", a reference to its location in relation to the Himalayas. Thus, it may be an Eastern equivalent of the European toponym "Piedmont."
Other, folk etymologies include:
- It has been suggested that the name comes from the Tibetan niyampal, which means "holy land".
- A third theory suggests that Nepal came from compounding the words NE, which means wool, and PAL, which means a tented house; a long time ago, Nepal used to produce a lot of wool and the houses were used to store the wool—hence the word NE-PAL.
- The name Nepal is also supposed to be derived from the Sanskrit word "NEP"(नेप), with the suffix "AL" (आल) added to it; though still under controversy, NEP were the people who used to be cow herders—the GOPALS (Yadavs)—who came to the Nepal valley for the first time from the Ganges plain.
- According to Nepali scholar Rishikesh Shaha, the ancient chronicles report that a sage (muni) named Ne became the protector (pāla) of this land and the founder of its first ruling dynasty. The name of the country, Ne-pāla, therefore originally meant the land 'protected by Ne.'
It appears that people who were probably of Kirat ethnicity lived in Nepal more than 2,500 years ago. The Kirat are aboriginal tribe of Nepal who lived in the north. Shortly after, other ethnic groups of Indo-Aryan and Dravidian origin had later migrated to southern part of Nepal.
Legends and Ancient times
Though very little is known about the early history of Nepal, legends and documented references reach back to the first millennium BCE:
- The epic Mahabharata mentions the Kiratas among the inhabitants of Nepal. Kirati king Yalambar had the dubious honor of being slain in the battle of the Mahabharata, in which gods and mortals fought alongside each other. Legend credits him with meeting Indra, the lord of heaven, who ventured into the Valley in human guise. It is said that during the battle of Mahabharata, Yalamber went to witness the battle with a view to take the side of the losing party. Lord Krishna, knowing the intention of Yalamber and the strength and unity of the Kiratas, thought that the war would unnecessarily be prolonged if Yalamber sided with the Kauravas. So, by a clever stroke of diplomacy, Lord Krishna cut off Yalamber's head.
- Also, the presence of historical sites, e.g., Valmiki ashram, indicates the presence of Sanatana (ancient) Hindu culture in parts of modern Nepal at that period.
- According to some legendary accounts in the chronicles, the successors of Ne were the gopālavaṃśi or "Cowherd family" are said to have ruled for some 491 years. They are said to have been followed by the mahaiṣapālavaṃśa or "Buffalo-herder Dynasty", established by an Indian Rajput named Bhul Singh.
- In a Licchavi period inscription (found on archeological stoneworks, which list mostly the dates and commissioners of these constructions, also communicate royal edicts, religious mantras or historical notes) mention the Kirata, that through the corroboration of local myths and the Vamsavalis, identify a people prior to the Licchavi dynasty.
Legendary accounts of the Kirati Period
Nepal's very first recorded, though still legendary, history began with the Devkotas, who may have arrived from the west to the Kathmandu valley. Little is known about them, other than their deftness as sheep farmers and great fondness for carrying long knives. According to the Gopalavamsa chronicle, the Kiratas ruled for about 1225 years (800 BCE–300 CE), their reign had a total of 29 kings during that time. Their first king was Elam; also known as Yalambar, who is referenced in the epic Mahabharata.
- The 1st Kirata King Kushal laid the foundation of the Kirata dynasty after defeating the last ruler of the Abhira dynasty. When Kiraats occupied the valley, they made Matatirtha their capital. The Kirat kingdom during the rule of Yalambar extended to Tista in the East and Trisidi in the West. It is said Yalambar had gone to witness the battle of Mahabharata between the Pandavas and the Kauravas. He was so brave and powerful that Lord Krishna beheaded him prior to the battle suspecting he might fight for the Kauravas.
- The 7th Kirata King 'Jitedasti'
During the rule of the 7th Kirat King Jitedasti, Lord Gautam Buddha (BC 623-BC 543) is said to have come to the valley with his several disciples and to have visited holy places of Swayambhu, Guheswari, etc., and to have preached his religious teaching. The Kiratas of the valley refused to follow his doctrine but welcomed Lord Buddha and his disciples.
- The 14th Kirata King 'Sthunko'
During the rule of the 14th Kirat King Sthunko, the Indian Emperor Ashoka is said to have come to the Kathmandu Valley with his daughter, princess Charumati. During his stay in the valley, he is said to have four stupas built around Patan in the four cardinal directions and one in the centre. He is said to have arranged his daughter Charumati's marriage with a local young prince named Devapala. Prince Devapala and his consort Charumati lived at Chabahil near Pashupati area. Later Charumati had the stupas of Devapatana built after the death of her husband in his memory. Charumati later on become a nun herself and built a convent where she resided and practiced Lord Buddha's doctrine.
- The 15th Kirata king 'Jinghri'
During the rule of the 15th Kirata King Jinghri, another religious doctrine, Jainism, was being preached by Mahavir in India. Bhadrabhau, a disciple of Mahavira Jaina, is said to have come to Nepal. But Jainism did not gain as much popularity as Buddhism in Nepal.
- The 28th Kirat King 'Paruka'
During the rule of the 28th Kirata King Paruka, the Sombanshi ruler attacked his regime many times from the west. Although he successfully repelled their attacks, he was forced to move to Shankhamul from Gokarna. He had a royal palace called "Patuka" built there for him. The 'Patuka' palace can no longer be seen, except its ruins in the form of a mound. Patuka changed Shankhamul into a beautiful town.
- The 29th Kirat King 'Gasti'
The last King of the Kirat dynasty was Gasti, a weak ruler, who is said to have been overthrown by the Somavanshi ruler Nimisha. This ended the powerful Kirata dynasty that had lasted for about 1225 years. After their defeat, the Kiratas moved to the Eastern hills of Nepal and settled down, divided into small principalities. Their settlements were divided into three regions, i.e., 'Wallokirat' that lay to the East of the Kathmandu Valley, 'Majkirat' or Central Kirat region and 'Pallokirat' that lay to the far East of the Kathmandu valley . These regions are still heavily populated by Kiratas (Rai and Limboo, Sunuwar, Yakkha etc.).
Before Nepal's emergence as a nation in the later half of the 18th century, the designation 'Nepal' was largely applied only to the Kathmandu Valley and its surroundings. Thus, up to the unification of the country, Nepal's recorded history is largely that of the Kathmandu's Valley. References to Nepal in the Mahabharata epic, in Puranas and in Buddhist and Jaina scriptures establish the country's antiquity as an independent political and territorial entity. The oldest Vamshavali or chronicle, the Gopalarajavamsavali, was copied from older manuscripts during the late 14th century, is a fairly reliable basis for Nepal's ancient history. The Vamshavalis mention the rule of several dynasties the Gopalas, the Abhiras and the Kiratas—over a stretch of millennia. However, no historical evidence exists for the rule of these legendary dynasties. The documented history of Nepal begins with the Changu Narayan temple inscription of King Manadeva I (c. 464–505 AD) of the Licchavi dynasty.
Rule of the Thakuri kings
The Thakuri Dynasty was a Rajput Dynasty. After Aramudi, who is mentioned in the Kashmirian chronicle, the Rajatarangini of Kalhana (1150 CE), many Thakuri kings ruled over part of the country up to the middle of the 12th century AD. Raghava Deva is said to have founded a ruling dynasty in 879 AD, when the Lichhavi rule came to an end. To commemorate this important event, Raghu Deva started the 'Nepal Era' which began on 20 October, 879 AD. After Amshuvarma, who ruled from 605 AD onward, the Thakuris had lost power and they could regain it only in 869 AD.
After the death of King Raghava Dev, many Thakuri kings ruled over Nepal up to the middle of the 12th century AD. During that period, Gunakama Deva was one of the famous kings. He ruled form 949 to 994 AD. During his rule, a big wooden house was built out of one single tree which was called 'Kasthamandapa', from which the name of the capital, 'Kathmandu', is derived. Gunakama Deva founded a town called Kantipur, the modern Kathmandu. It was also Gunakama Deva who started the 'Indra Jatra' festival. He repaired the temple that lies to the northern part of the temple of Pashupatinath. He introduced Krishna Jatra and Lakhe Jatra as well. He also performed Kotihoma.
Successors of Gunakama Dev
Bhola Deva succeeded Gunakama Deva. The next ruler was Laksmikama Deva who ruled from 1024 to 1040 AD. He built Laksmi Vihara and introduced the custom of worshipping a virgin girl as 'Kumari'. Then, Vijayakama Deva, the son of Laksmikama, became the king of Nepal. Vijaykama Deva was the last ruler of this dynasty. He introduced the worship of the "Naga" and "Vasuki". After his death, the Thakuri clan of Nuwakot occupied the throne of Nepal.
Nuwakot Thakuri Kings
Bhaskara Deva, a Thakuri form Nuwakot, succeeded Vijayakama Deva and established Nuwakot-Thakuri rule. He is said to have built Navabahal and Hemavarna Vihara. After Bhaskara Deva, four kings of this line ruled over the country. They were Bala Deva, Padma Deva, Nagarjuna Deva and Shankara Deva.
Shankara Deva (1067–1080 AD) was the most illustrious ruler of this dynasty. He established the image of 'Shantesvara Mahadeva' and 'Manohara Bhagavati'. The custom of pasting the pictures of Nagas and Vasuki on the doors of houses on the day of Nagapanchami was introduced by him. During his time, the Buddhists wreaked vengeance on the Hindu Brahmins (especially the followers of Shaivism) for the harm they had received earlier from Shankaracharya. Shankara Deva tried to pacify the Brahmins harassed by the Buddhists.
Suryavansi (the Solar Dynasty)
Bama Deva, a descendant of Amshuvarma, defeated Shankar Deva in 1080 AD. He suppressed the Nuwakot-Thankuris with the help of nobles and restored the old Solar Dynasty rule in Nepal for the second time. Harsha Deva, the successor of Bama Deva was a weak ruler. There was no unity among the nobles and they asserted themselves in their respective spheres of influence. Taking that opportunity, Nanya Deva, a Karnataka king attack Nepal from Simraungar in reply Army of Nepal defend and won the battle and success to protect Nepal from foreign invasion.
After Harsha Deva, Shivadeva, the third, ruled from 1099 to 1126 A.D. He was a brave and powerful king. He founded the town of Kirtipur and roofed the temple of Pashupatinath with gold. He introduced twenty-five paisa coins. He also constructed wells, canals and tanks at different places.
After Sivadeva III, Mahendra Deva, Mana Deva, Narendra Deva II, Ananda Deva, Rudra Deva, Amrita Deva, Ratna Deva II, Somesvara Deva, Gunakama Deva II, Lakmikama Deva III and Vijayakama Deva II ruled Nepal in quick succession. Historians differ about the rule of several kings and their respective times. After the fall of the Thakuri dynasty, a new dynasty was founded by Arideva or Ari Malla, popularly known as the 'Malla Dynasty'.
Early Malla rule started with Ari Malla in the 12th century. Over the next two centuries his kingdom expanded widely, into the Terai and western Tibet, before disintegrating into small principalities, which later became known as the Baise
Jayasthiti Malla, with whom commences the later Malla dynasty of the Kathmandu Valley, began to reign at the end of the 14th century. Though his rule was rather short, his place among the rulers in the Valley is eminent for the various social and economic reforms such as the 'Sanskritization' of the Valley people, new methods of land measurement and allocation etc. Yaksha Malla, the grandson of Jayasthiti Malla, ruled the Kathmandu Valley until almost the end of the 15th century. After his demise, the Valley was divided into three independent Valley kingdoms—Kathmandu, Bhaktapur and Patan—in about 1484 AD. This division led the Malla rulers into internecine clashes and wars for territorial and commercial gains. Mutually debilitating wars gradually weakened them, that facilitated conquest of the Kathmandu Valley by King Prithvi Narayan Shah of Gorkha. The last Malla rulers were Jaya Prakasha Malla, Teja Narasingha Malla and Ranjit Malla of Kathmandu, Patan and Bhaktapur respectively...
Shah Dynasty, unification of Nepal
Prithvi Narayan Shah (c. 1769–1775), with whom we move into the modern period of Nepal's history, was the ninth generation descendant of Dravya Shah (1559–1570), the founder of the ruling house of Gorkha. Prithvi Narayan Shah succeeded his father King Nara Bhupal Shah to the throne of Gorkha in 1743 AD. King Prithvi Narayan Shah was quite aware of the political situation of the Valley kingdoms as well as of the Baise and Chaubise principalities. He foresaw the need for unifying the small principalities as an urgent condition for survival in the future and set himself to the task accordingly.
His assessment of the situation among the hill principalities was correct, and the principalities were subjugated fairly easily. King Prithvi Narayan Shah's victory march began with the conquest of Nuwakot, which lies between Kathmandu and Gorkha, in 1744. After Nuwakot, he occupied strategic points in the hills surrounding the Kathmandu Valley. The Valley's communications with the outside world were thus cut off. The occupation of the Kuti Pass in about 1756 stopped the Valley's trade with Tibet. Finally, King Prithvi Narayan Shah entered the Valley. After the victory of Kirtipur. King Jaya Prakash Malla of Kathmandu sought help from the British and so the East India Company sent a contingent of soldiers under Captain Kinloch in 1767. The British force was defeated at Sindhuli by King Prithvi Narayan Shah's army. This defeat of the British completely shattered the hopes of King Jaya Prakash Malla. The capture of Kathmandu (September 25, 1768) was dramatic. As the people of Kathmandu were celebrating the festival of Indrajatra, Prithvi Narayan Shah and his men marched into the city. A throne was put on the palace courtyard for the king of Kathmandu. Prithvi Narayan Shah sat on the throne and was hailed by the people as the king of Kathmandu. Jaya Prakash Malla managed to escape with his life and took asylum in Patan. When Patan was captured a few weeks later, both Jaya Prakash Malla and the king of Patan, Tej Narsingh Mallal took refuge in Bhaktapur, which was also captured after some time. Thus the Kathmandu Valley was conquered by King Prithvi Narayan Shah and Kathmandu became the capital of the modern Nepal by 1769.
King Prithvi started annexing parts of Baise-Rajya in the Rapti region around 1760AD. By 1763, Tulsipur-Dang Rajya fell and by 1775 AD, Chauhan Raja Nawal Singh of House of Tulsipur was completely defeated. After losing his northern hill territories to King Prithvi, Chauhan Raja Nawal Singh was forced to move to his southern territories (currently Tulsipur / Balarampur in India) and ruled as one of the largest Taluqdar of Oudh.
King Prithvi Narayan Shah was successful in bringing together diverse religio-ethnic groups under one national. He was a true nationalist in his outlook and was in favor of adopting a closed-door policy with regard to the British. Not only his social and economic views guided the country's socio-economic course for a long time, his use of the imagery, 'a yam between two boulders' in Nepal's geopolitical context, formed the principal guideline of the country's foreign policy for future centuries.
Kingdom of Nepal
After decades of rivalry between the medieval kingdoms, modern Nepal was created in the latter half of the 18th century, when Prithvi Narayan Shah, the ruler of the small principality of Gorkha, formed a unified country from a number of independent hill states. Prithvi Narayan Shah dedicated himself at an early age to the conquest of the Kathmandu Valley and the creation of a single state, which he achieved in 1768.
The country was frequently called the Gorkha Kingdom. It is a misconception that the Gorkhali took their name from the Gorkha region of Nepal; actually, the region was given its name after the Gorkhali had established their control of these areas. The Gorkhali take their name from the legendary 8th-century Hindu warrior-saint Guru Gorakhnath. The Gorkhali claimed descent from the Hindu Rajputs and Brahmins of Northern India, who entered modern Nepal from the west.
After Shah's death, the Shah dynasty began to expand their kingdom into what is present day North India. Between 1788 and 1791, during the Sino-Nepalese War, Nepal invaded Tibet and robbed Tashilhunpo Monastery in Shigatse. Alarmed, the Qianlong Emperor of the Chinese Qing Dynasty appointed Fuk'anggan commander-in-chief of the Tibetan campaign; Fuk'anggan defeated the Gorkhali army and the Gorkhali were forced to accept surrender on China's terms.
After 1800, the heirs of Prithvi Narayan Shah proved unable to maintain firm political control over Nepal. A period of internal turmoil followed.
Rivalry between Nepal and the British East India Company over the princely states bordering Nepal and India eventually led to the Anglo-Nepalese War (1814–16), in which Nepal suffered a complete rout. The Treaty of Sugauli was signed in 1816, ceding large parts of the Nepali territories of Terrai, (nearly one third of the country), to the British, in exchange for Nepalese autonomy. The ceded territories remained in India when India became independent in 1947.
The Rana dynasty of Rajputs ruled the Kingdom of Nepal from 1846 until 1953, reducing the Shah monarch to a figurehead and making Prime Minister and other government positions hereditary. It is descended from one Bal Narsingh Kunwar of Kaski, who moved to Gorkha in the early 18th century and entered the service of Raja Nara Bhupal Shah around 1740. Unlike claimed ancestral root to Chittor per se, Dor Bahadur Bista, a notable anthropologist, brought to light that the ancestors of Ranas were Jumli Khadka who joined the army of Kaski principalities whom king of Kaski honoured with the title of Kunwar. Kunwar became Rana only after the time of Jung Bahadur Rana. In some historical evidences, King Surendra has referred Junga as a lowly Khas. To accept the marriage proposal of Jung's son's with the King Surendra's daughter, it is said that clever Jung linked his ancestral root to Chittor Rajput to be superior to khas and equivalent to Shahs.
Jung Bahadur was the first ruler from this dynasty. His original family name was Rana but in Nepal people mistook his Rajput title of Kunwar for his family name, Kunwar is a title denoting royal lineage used by Rajput princes in northern India. Rana rulers were titled "Shri Teen" and "Maharaja", whereas Shah kings were "Shri Panch" and "Maharajdiraj". Both the Rana dynasty and Shah dynasty are Rajput caste in the Hindu tradition in contrast with the native Himalayan culture which is largely Buddhist and Bön. Jung Bahadur codified laws and modernized the state's bureaucracy. In 1855 he attempted to impose his influence in Tibet but was stopped in the Nepalese-Tibetan War (1855–1856).
Originally Jung Bahadur and his brother Ranodip Singh brought a lot of upliftment and modernisation to Nepalese society, the abolishment of slavery, upliftment of the untouchable class, public access to education, etc. but these dreams were short-lived when in the coup d'état of 1885 the nephews of Jung Bahadur and Ranodip Singh (the Shumshers J.B., S.J.B. or Satra (17) Family) murdered Ranodip Singh and the sons of Jung Bahadur, stole the name of Jung Bahadur and took control of Nepal.
After the murder of Sri Teen Maharaja Ranodip Singh, the Shumshers occupied the hereditary throne of Prime Minister and added "Jung Bahadur" to their name, although they were descended from Jung's younger brother Dhir Shumsher. This was done after Sri Teen Maharaja Chandra Shumsher realised the British gave more weight and importance to the "Jung Bahadur" name.
Maharaja Sir Jung Bahadur Rana's eldest son was General Jagat Jung, known as "Mukhiya Jarnel". His eldest grandson and Gen. Jagat Jung's eldest son was Gen. Yuddha Pratap, known as "Naati Jarnel". Their descendants currently live in Manahara, Kathmandu. Two of Jung Bahadur's sons Gen. Ranabir Jung and Commander-in-Chief Gen. Padma Jung Bahadur Rana 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 are very widespread, and live in Kathmandu, Dehradun, Delhi, Kolkata, Australia and Britain.
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 grand-sons fought and commanded forces in places like France, Italy, Afghanistan, Burma, Flanders, Egypt, Mesopotamia and Wazirstan during the Great World War I and the Great World War II and won long list of medals. Many of his daughters, granddaughters and great-granddaughters were or are married to various Maharajas of Indian princely states. 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 mid-1800 AD. Commander-in-Chief Gen. Padma Jung continued the process of marrying his sons and daughters to the Indian Royal Households in late 1800 AD. One of his great-granddaughter Sita Rani Devi is Rajmata of Indian Princely State of Makrai. Another great-granddaughter is Geeta Rani Rana who is married to Late Thakuri Prachanda Singh of Royal House of Tulsipur.
Present rulers of Kingdom of Nepal, Jajorkot, Bajhang and Indian princely states such as Jhalai, Jubbal, Bagribari, Tripura, Oel Kaimara, Khairagarh, Rajgarh, Tehri-Garhwal, Thalrai, Benaras, Ramnagar 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.
Crown Prince General Dhoj Narsingh Rana, adopted son of Sri Teen Maharaja Ranodip Singh (his biological father was Badri Narsingh Rana) had to go into exile with his family to India along with many of Jung Bahadur's surviving descendants. Many of Crown Prince General Dhoj Narsingh's children and family remained with Sri Teen Ranodip Singh's widow in Benares and were then relocated later relocated to Udaipur upon the invitation by Maharana Fateh Singh, who sought to give refuge to his Rana cousins. Out of seven sons and three daughters of Gen. Dwaj Narsingh three sons and one daughter moved to Udaipur on an invitation from the Maharana who graciously requested them to settle in Udaipur. While Neel Narsingh died at an early age the Rana princes Shri Narsingh & Dev Narsingh established themselves and carry on the family's name in the city of their forefathers. Their families established marital relations with the royal families and Thikanas like Jasmor (head of the Pundir clan), Banka, Gogunda, Samode, Neemrana (descendents of Prithviraj Chauhan), Mahendragarh, Medhas (From the family of Riyan which is the main seat of the Mertiya Rathores), Fatehnagar: Zorawar Singhji Ka Khera (from the family of the famous Chauhans of Kotharia), etc. The British government did not help any of the exiled princes whose fathers had saved the British and their empire in 1857.
The shortest serving Rana was Deva Shumsher Jung Bahadur Rana who ruled for two months in 1901, he was deposed by his brothers because of his open display of guilt for what has happened during the coup. Known as "The Reformist" for his progressive policies, he proclaimed universal education, began to building schools, took steps to abolish slavery, and introduced several other social welfare schemes. He also made improvements to the arsenal at Nakkhu (south of Kathmandu) and started The Gorkhapatra newspaper. Dev Shumsher felt guilty for what had transpired during the coup, also a key incident happened during the coup which affected him deeply. He was held at gunpoint by General Dhoj Narsingh Rana, but was allowed to live and forgiven. For this he felt a lot of guilt and asked for the exiled family members to return to Nepal. This brought him in clash with his immediate brothers. He was deposed by his relatives, where he settled in Jhari Pani, near Mussoorie, where his Fairlawn Palace once stood. A developer purchased the palace and tore it down, replacing it with cottages. All that remains are a few of the original gates and a small portion of the palace skeleton. Even the last Prime Minister of Nepal Maharaja Mohan Shumshere Rana, who later settled in Bangalore, exchanged letters with the Rana family in Udaipur which was definitely an effort to reunite with his estranged family. The Rana family in Udaipur has till date preserved all such letters along with some photographs of Mohan Shumshere. Under the British Raj, the Ranas were acclaimed and given much prestige and a 19-gun salute; all with the exception of Deva Shumsher received knighthoods. The Rana dynasty developed into a powerful family clan and are still very influential in the country today. The family formed a close alliance with the Shah dynasty via marriage and business alliances.
In December 1923 Britain and Nepal formally signed a "treaty of perpetual peace and friendship" superseding the Sugauli Treaty of 1816 and upgrading the British resident in Kathmandu to an envoy.
Slavery was abolished in Nepal in 1924.
Popular dissatisfaction against the family rule of the Ranas had started emerging from among the few educated people, who had studied in various Indian schools and colleges, and also from within the Ranas, many of whom were marginalised within the ruling Rana hierarchy. Many of these Nepalese in exile had actively taken part in the Indian Independence struggle and wanted to liberate Nepal as well from the internal autocratic Rana occupation. The political parties such as The Prajaparishad and Nepali Congress were already formed in exile by leaders such as B. P. Koirala, Ganesh Man Singh, Subarna Sumsher Rana, Krishna Prasad Bhattarai, Girija Prasad Koirala, and many other patriotic-minded Nepalis who urged the military and popular political movement in Nepal to overthrow the autocratic Rana Regime. Among the prominent martyrs to die for the cause, executed at the hands of the Ranas, were Dharma Bhakta Mathema, Shukraraj Shastri, Gangalal Shrestha, and Dasharath Chand. This turmoil culminated in King Tribhuvan, a direct descendant of Prithvi Narayan Shah, fleeing from his "palace prison" in 1950, to newly independent India, touching off an armed revolt against the Rana administration. This eventually ended in the return of the Shah family to power and the appointment of a non-Rana as prime minister. A period of quasi-constitutional rule followed, during which the monarch, assisted by the leaders of fledgling political parties, governed the country. During the 1950s, efforts were made to frame a constitution for Nepal that would establish a representative form of government, based on a British model.
In early 1959, Tribhuvan's son King Mahendra issued a new constitution, and the first democratic elections for a national assembly were held. The Nepali Congress Party, a moderate socialist group, gained a substantial victory in the election. Its leader, Bishweshwar Prasad Koirala, formed a government and served as prime minister. After years of power wrangling between the kings (Tribhuvan and Mahendra) and the government, Mahendra dissolved the democratic experiment in 1960.
Royal coup by King Mahendra
Declaring parliamentary democracy a failure, King Mahendra carried out a royal coup 18 months later, in 1960. He dismissed the elected Koirala government, declared that a 'party less' Panchayat system would govern Nepal, and promulgated another new constitution on December 16, 1960.
Subsequently, the elected Prime Minister, Members of Parliament and hundreds of democratic activists were arrested. (In fact, this trend of arrest of political activists and democratic supporters continued for the entire 30 year period of partyless Panchayati System under King Mahendra and then his son, King Birendra).
The new constitution established a "partyless" system of panchayats (councils) which King Mahendra considered to be a democratic form of government, closer to Nepalese traditions. As a pyramidal structure, progressing from village assemblies to a Rastriya Panchayat (National Parliament), the Panchayat system constitutionalised the absolute power of the monarchy and kept the King as head of state with sole authority over all governmental institutions, including the Cabinet (Council of Ministers) and the Parliament. One-state-one-language became the national policy in an effort to carry out state unification, uniting various ethnic and regional groups into a singular Nepali nationalist bond. The Back to the Village National Campaign, launched in 1967, was one of the main rural development programmes of the Panchayat system.
King Mahendra was succeeded by his 27-year-old son, King Birendra, in 1972. Amid student demonstrations and anti-regime activities in 1979, King Birendra called for a national referendum to decide on the nature of Nepal's government: either the continuation of the panchayat system with democratic reforms or the establishment of a multiparty system. The referendum was held in May 1980, and the panchayat system won a narrow victory. The king carried out the promised reforms, including selection of the prime minister by the Rastriya Panchayat.
People in rural areas had expected that their interests would be better represented after the adoption of parliamentary democracy in 1990. The Nepali Congress with support of "Alliance of leftist parties" decided to launch a decisive agitational movement, Jana Andolan, which forced the monarchy to accept constitutional reforms and to establish a multiparty parliament. In May 1991, Nepal held its first parliamentary elections in nearly 50 years. The Nepali Congress won 110 of the 205 seats and formed the first elected government in 32 years.
In 1992, in a situation of economic crisis and chaos, with spiralling prices as a result of implementation of changes in policy of the new Congress government, the radical left stepped up their political agitation. A Joint People's Agitation Committee was set up by the various groups. A general strike was called for April 6.
Violent incidents began to occur on the evening before the strike. The Joint People's Agitation Committee had called for a 30-minute 'lights out' in the capital, and violence erupted outside Bir Hospital when activists tried to enforce the 'lights out'. At dawn on April 6, clashes between strike activists and police, outside a police station in Pulchok (Patan), left two activists dead.
Later in the day, a mass rally of the Agitation Committee at Tundikhel in the capital Kathmandu was attacked by police forces. As a result, riots broke out and the Nepal Telecommunications building was set on fire; police opened fire at the crowd, killing several persons. The Human Rights Organisation of Nepal estimated that 14 persons, including several onlookers, had been killed in police firing.
When promised land reforms failed to appear, people in some districts started to organize to enact their own land reform and to gain some power over their lives in the face of usurious landlords. However, this movement was repressed by the Nepali government, in "Operation Romeo" and "Operation Kilo Sera II", which took the lives of many of the leading activists of the struggle. As a result, many witnesses to this repression became radicalized.
Nepalese Civil War
In February 1996, the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) started a bid to replace the parliamentary monarchy with a people's new democratic republic, through a Maoist revolutionary strategy known as the people's war, which led to the Nepalese Civil War. Led by Dr. Baburam Bhattarai and Pushpa Kamal Dahal (also known as "Prachanda"), the insurgency began in five districts in Nepal: Rolpa, Rukum, Jajarkot, Gorkha, and Sindhuli. The Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist)established a provisional "people's government" at the district level in several locations.
On June 1, 2001 after the assassination of royal family, including King Birendra and Queen Aishwaya . Prince Gyanendra (Birendra's brother) inherited the throne, according to tradition. Meanwhile, the rebellion escalated, and in October 2002 the king temporarily deposed the government and took complete control of it. A week later he reappointed another government, but the country was still very unstable.
In the face of unstable governments and a siege on the Kathmandu Valley in August 2004, popular support for the monarchy began to wane. On February 1, 2005, Gyanendra dismissed the entire government and assumed full executive powers, declaring a "state of emergency" to quash the revolution. Politicians were placed under house arrest, phone and internet lines were cut, and freedom of the press was severely curtailed.
The king's new regime made little progress in his stated aim to suppress the insurgents. Municipal elections in February 2006 were described by the European Union as "a backward step for democracy", as the major parties boycotted the election and some candidates were forced to run for office by the army. In April 2006 strikes and street protests in Kathmandu forced the king to reinstate the parliament. A seven-party coalition resumed control of the government and stripped the king of most of his powers. As of 15 January 2007, Nepal was governed by an unicameral legislature under an interim constitution. On December 24, 2007, seven parties, including the former Maoist rebels and the ruling party, agreed to abolish the monarchy and declare Nepal a Federal Republic. In the elections held on 10 April 2008, the Maoists secured a simple majority, with the prospect of forming a government to rule the proposed 'Republic of Nepal'.
Federal Democratic Republic
On May 28, 2008 the newly elected Constituent Assembly declared Nepal a Federal Democratic Republic, abolishing the 240-year-old monarchy. The motion for abolition of monarchy was carried by a huge majority; out of 564 members present in the assembly, 560 voted for the motion while 4 members voted against it. Finally, on June 11, 2008 ex-king Gyanendra left the palace. Ram Baran Yadav of the Nepali Congress became the first president of the Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal on July 23, 2008. Similarly, Pushpa Kamal Dahal, popularly known as Prachanda, of the Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) was elected as the first Prime Minister on August 15, 2008, defeating Sher Bahadur Deuba of the Nepali Congress Party. Ruling UCPN-Moaist party suspended Prakash Dahal, son of the Prime Minister Prachanda, from the membership of the party and from the powerful state afiars committee over his alleged extra-marital affair with a student leader.
- Shaha, Rishikesh. Ancient and Medieval Nepal (1992), pp. 6–7. Manohar Publications, New Delhi. ISBN 81-85425-69-8.
- Shaha, Rishikesh. Ancient and Medieval Nepal (1992), p. 7. Manohar Publications, New Delhi. ISBN 81-85425-69-8.
- Tucci, Giuseppe. (1952). Journey to Mustang, 1952. Trans. by Diana Fussell. 1st Italian edition, 1953; 1st English edition, 1977. 2nd edition revised, 2003, p. 22. Bibliotheca Himalayica. ISBN 99933-0-378-X (South Asia); 974-524-024-9 (Outside of South Asia).
- The organisers of the Committee were the Samyukta Janamorcha Nepal, the Communist Party of Nepal (Unity Centre), Communist Party of Nepal (Masal), the Nepal Communist League and the Communist Party of Nepal (Marxist-Leninist-Maoist).
- Hoftun, Martin, William Raeper and John Whelpton. People, politics and ideology: Democracy and Social Change in Nepal. Kathmandu: Mandala Book Point, 1999. p. 189
- When a king's looking-glass world is paid for in blood. Guardian. 2 February 2006. Retrieved on 2012-04-08.
- Nepal votes to abolish monarchy. CNN. 28 December 2007
- Nepalnews.com, news from Nepal as it happens. Nepalnews.com. 28 May 2008. Retrieved on 2012-04-08.
- Ex-King Gyanendra leaves Narayanhiti. nepalnews.com. 11 June 2008
- "Prachanda's son suspended from Maoist party over 'affair'". 10 July 2012.
- Tiwari, Sudarshan Raj (2002). The Brick and the Bull: An account of Handigaun, the Ancient Capital of Nepal. Himal Books. ISBN 99933-43-52-8.
- Kayastha, Chhatra Bahadur (2003).Nepal Sanskriti: Samanyajnan. Nepal Sanskriti. ISBN 99933-34-84-7.
- Stiller, Ludwig (1993): Nepal: growth of a nation, HRDRC, Kathmandu, 1993, 215pp.