Before 1768 AD (1825 BS) Nepal was divided into several small states and principalities such as Baise-chaubise state. There were 50 -52 states within the country till by the end of medieval period. There was strong need to unite all these states into a Nation. The credit goes to the Shah Kings of Gorkha, specially, PN Shah for unification of Kingdom Of Nepal. Pritivi Narayan Shah was born as the son of Narbhupal shah and queen Kaushyallwoti in 27 Paush 1779 BS in Gorkha. PN Shah became the king of Gorkha state in 1799 BS at the age of 20.
Role of PN Shah in the unification of Nepal
PN Shah was a great king of the shah dynasty. He defeated all who came in his way. Prithivi Narayan Shah conquered Nuwakot and take the first step toward the conquest of Kathmandu Valley. His army captured the weapons from the foreign army who come to support the Malla kings. His unification of Nepal was need of time because the sovereignty of the country was divided into different group, socio-economic condition was becoming weak day by day, Foreigner countries were interested to the occupy this country etc.
His unification of Nepal is significant not only nationalistic point of view but also internationally. Prithivi Narayan Shah first of all attacked Nuwakot in 1880 but he failled. So he made an ambitious plan to enhance the military strength of Gorkha army. He increased the number of troops by giving military training to all male citizen. Prithivi Narayan Shah attacked Nuwakot for the second time on 15 Asauj 1801 amd conquered Nuwakot which was the first step to the unification of Nepal and Kathmandu valley
He marched his steps with his troops for the conquest of Kritipur in 1814 BS and at first he captured the Pharping, pande gaunsunagaun, khokana and other places then he attacked Kritipur. After the dreadful fight of five hours on the bank of Balkhu stream, he was defeated by the joint forces of Jayaprakash Malla and Kritipur. The brave Kalu Pande lost his life in this battle. He attacked and conquered Makawanpur in 1819 BS. However PN Shah did not remain idle after the defeat of kritipur. He attacked Kritipur in 1821 BS. And Captured in 1822 BS. After the conquered of Kritipur his steps marched to the conquest of Kathmandu valley.
Conquest of Valley
On The 25th September 1768, when the people wer celebrating the Indrajaatra, the Gorkhali attacked Kantipur from three side: Bhimsenthan, Naradevi and Tundikhel. It was simply impossible for Jayaprakash Malla to defense this sudden and unexpected attack. Still he fought for some time and then fled and hid in the temple of Taleju and from there to patan and took shelter under the King Tej Narasingha Malla.
Prithivi Narayan Shah sat on the throne of Kathmandu the same night. When jaya prakash malla had been in Patan for only few month, the pradhans of patan made the relations with PN Shah. Coming to know this the kings of both Patan and Kathmandu fled to Bhadgaun to take shelter under King Ranajit Mall and patan came under the PN Shah. Prithivi Narayan Shah attacked Bhadgaun on Kartik 1826. Jaya Prakash was wounded in the fight and finding himself in a helpless situation, King ranajit Malla surrendered.
In this way all three kingdoms of the valley came under the Prithivi Narayan shah and the Malla regime came to an end. PN Shah did not rest even after the conquest of Kathmandu valley, he prepared for the conquest of 24 petty states of Gandaki region. He first attacked Kaski and conquered it. When Gorkhali were engaged in the campaign against Nuwakot of east no 4, Kaski declared independence, But when the Gorkhali conquered Dhor, Bhirkot and others with the help of Tanahun, they again captured Kaski. On seeng their old enemy Gorkha conquering the neighbouring states one by one the kings of Lamjung and Parbat, with the help of some 24 states attacked the gorkhalis.
This time Gorkhali suffered a heavy defeat and their leader kaji Kahar singh was killed. So PN Shah abandoned his hope of conquering the 24 small states and turned his attention toward the East. Ram Krishna Kunwar and Abhiman singh Basnet was the leader of campaign of the conquest of east. It was the campaign of victory and PN Shah crowned with success in the east. They reached up to the bank of the Arun River without any serious opposition and rule of Gorkha was established over Morang, Chaudandi and Kirat.
After that they cptured Illam and planned to attack Sikkim. But Prithivi Narayan Shah died at Dev ghat on the first day of Magh 1831 BS. His economic Policy was sound. He was in favor of patronizing indigenous industries. He was of view that who know how to weave the clothes in the country should be encouraged so that wealth may not drain out. Most of the time of PN Shah passed in fights and warfare and he could not give much attention to administrative affairs.
From the speech he made time to time we can say that he was an able administrator, and wise and farsighted statesman. He always desired to see his people happy and prosperous. He used to say “the government becomes strong when people are strong.” As he wanted to develop national trade he banned the import of all foreign clothes and goods. His policy was to foster national arts and crafts, encourage exports, discourage imports, dig mines, develop national industry, and similar others to develop the country. During his rule the nine storied palace of Basantapur, the bridge over the Rudramati River etc were constructed.
The successors of PN Shah
Pratap Singh Shah (1831 to 1834 BS)
After the death of PN Shah his son Pratap Singh Shah became the king of Nepal. His policy was remaining in peace with neighboring countries but his policy could not be maintained. His contribution in the unification of Nepal is not of so importance. He improved the system of land tenure and fixed the payment of land revenue at on sixth of the gross production. He erected the Lingo (wooden Pillar) at Hanuman Dhoka. He died in 1834 BS at the age of 29.
Rana Bhadur Shah
After the death of Pratap Singh shah his son of two years Rana Bahadur Shah became the eking of Nepal. So, the administration of country was conducted by his mother Rajendra Laxmi. Later Bahadur shah returned to Nepal from Bettiah and began to carry on the adminstration as the regent of King Rana Bahadur shah. Queen mother Rajendra Laxmi and Bahadur shah jointly ruled the country.
Bahadur Shah managed the state affairs so skillfully that the authority of state began to grow day by day. He thought to unify the 22 and 24 small states. But the relationship between queen mother and Bahadur shah ruptured. She suspected towards him that Bahadur shah might take revenge on her son for the wrong done to him by her husband. So one day he was suddenly arrested by the mother queen.
But he was again released and carry administration as before. He did his best the remove the queen mother’s suspicion on him. Knowing about the power struggle between brother in law and sister in law, 24 petty states had started creating troubles. At this time Bahadur shah organized a large force and challenged them. But due to the conflict again he went to bettiah.
In the absence of Bahadur shah they were enough to attack Gorkha troops. So, In order to suppress them queen mother sent her troops under the command of Amar Singh Thapa. They conquered the some chaubise petty states and these states were annexed to the kingdom of Nepal. Similarly the troops headed by Abhiman singh Basnet defeated the troops of Palpa. At this time the king of parbat marched towards lamjung with the force but the Nepali defeated and occupied the different places.
Rajendra Laxmi died in in 1843 (1786 AD). Rajendra Laxmi was the heroic women of Nepal. During her regency she did much to expand the territory of Nepal. After the death of Queen mother Rajendra Laxmi, Bahadur shah once again came back to Nepal and wanted to live in peace and harmony with people. However he was determined to put down and occupy the hostile baise and chaubise states.
Among them Palpa was very powerful and so he made with friendship with King of Palpa by marrying his daughter and promised to give him some conquered land in return. After the establishment of friendship with palpa, he set the campaign under the command of Damodar pande and Amar Singh Thapa. The troops easily occupied the chaubise states and extended the territorries of Nepal up to the Mahakali in the west.
War with Tibet
During the period of Rana Bahadur Shah Nepal government proposed making a new with Tibet but Tibet rejected such proposal. The Tibet blamed on the Nepalese and increases antagonism all the more. Then the Nepal government sent a peace mission to Tibet with the of making good friendship but it returned without any diplomatic success. Then a force sent to Tibet under the command of Damodar Pande.
There was the fight between Tibetans and Nepalese in 1846 BS. The Nepalese troops marched from kuti and surrounded the Tibetan troops. Hearing the news of Nepali attack on Tibet, the chinese emperor sent a strong force to Lhasa. But he came to know all the facts, he was pacified but he decided not to leave Lhasa a settlement was reached between Tibet and Nepal.
Treaty with Tibet
Nepalese and Tibetan team agreed to make a treaty. Treaty has following points:
- The Tibetan government was to bear whole war expenses incurred by the Nepalese government.
- If, however, the Tibetan government agreed to pay a lump sum of five million rupees, they would be exempted from the payment of the war expense and conquered territories would also be restored.
- But the Tibetan government promised to pay 5o thousand rupees per year to the government of Nepal.
Preparation of War
Lord Hasting declared war against Nepal on 1st November 1814 AD with the charge of killing the British soldiers and infiltrating the neighboring territories. Though Amarsingh Thapa and other nobles and chiefs were aginst war, the Nepalese troops prepared war. Bhimsen Thapa supported the idea of war. To fight against Nepal, British east India Company collected a large number of troops, well equipped with guns and cannon and divided the army into five units.
General Ochterlony proceeded from the west with six thousand troops. General Gillespie advanced through the Dehradun with four thousand troops. General Wood pushed with four thousand troops from Gorakhpur. General Moreley moved on with eight thousand troops from Makawanpur. Major Leightern advanced with two thousand troops from the purnea inciting sikkim against Nepal. All these forces were heavely armed with guns and cannon and attacked Nepal from east, west and the south.
The Battle of Khalanga
The troops headed by Gillespie attacked the Fortress of Khalanga, situated Nalapani from the side of Dehradun. From the Nepal’s side there was the Bhalabhadra was in defense of fortress, six hundred people including women and children. The British began to storm and batter for fortress but brave Nepalese were not subdued. Lieutenant Ellis was killed in this battle and ultimately British were defeated. Then general Gillespie himself took command. But the British were again defeated.
The Nepalese have only one cannon and General Gillespie fell the victim to a shell fired by the cannon. This was the great shock to the British troops. The British force under Colonel Mowe attacked the fortress again and there was dreadful fight. The great Nepalese showered stones and block of woods on the enemy from inside and those who tried break became the victim of sharp Khukuris. Seeing that it was impossible to drive out the Nepalese by merely shelling the fortress outside, they adopted another strategy.
They discover the source of water supply to the fortress, blocked it and thus cut off the supply of water. After that step, Nepalese came out with Khukuri in their hands and joined the forces sent to the defense of their and proceeded to Jit Gadh. After this British captured the fortress of enemy. Inspiring by the dauntless courage and indomitable spirit of the Nepalese, the British set of a monument in honour of Balabhadra and his people with an inscription “it is a present in honour of our brave enemy Balabhadra and his brave Gorkhali friends”
The Battle of Malaun
General Ochterlony was a cleverest of all the British commanders deputed invade Nepal. He was closely watching and studying the situation of Nepal. He advance to the Malaun fortress capturing the few posts of way, Amarsingh Thapa himself was defending the fortress of Malaun. But the Nepalese took the offensive and attacked the British forces before they reached fortress.
There was a terrific fight and General Ochterlony requested Hastings to send him more troops. But Amarsingh Thapa baffled every attempt of the British. Being unable to defeat Amarsingh Thapa and captured Malaun even after making several attempts for the six months, he wrote a letter if he would come to over his side, he would be rewarded with great honour and positions. Amarsingh took it as an insult, so he tore it up and threw away. The courage and skill that he showed in this battle speak volumes for his bravery.
The Battle of Deu Thal
Deo thal was a fortress which fall on the left of Malaun. Bhakti Thapa with five hundred people was the leader of this fortress. After the defeat in the battle of Malaun, Ochterlony planned to attack. The Nepalese had taken the strong defensive position. When Malaun was surrounded on all sides by Troops of Ochterlony, Bhakti Thapa had gone there with some of his men to help Amarsingh Thapa. Then Ochterlony capptured the fortress of Deo Thal after the terrific fight and British made a strong fortress of their own to very close to it.
Seeing this Amarsingha sent Bhakti Thapa with troops to drive the British out of Deo Thal. Bhakti Thapa was then seventy years old and grieved by the death of his son. Still he was ready to fight. There was the dreadful battle. The Nepalese troops, with sword and Khukuri is their hands, rushed forward to capture the guns and cannons. But unfortunately hit by bullet, Bhakti Thapa was killed and the troops fled to Amarsingh Thapa at Malaun.
Renewal of War
On seeing unwillingness of the Nepalese to leave the terai, Lord Hastings sent twenty thousand troops under the command of Ochterlony to invade Nepal. Nepalese troops under the command of Colonel Rana Bikram Singha advanced from Kathmandu. He sent some of his troops under Bir Keshar and Bakhat singha. Here Nepal was defeated. On the other hand Ochterlony was finding very difficult to proceed by the Way of Makawanpur and his courage and strength was getting exhausted by his fights against the Nepalese troops. So, both side agreed to make peace and a treaty was concluded at Sugauli by the agreement of both parties.
Chandra Shekhar Upadhya and General Ochterlony had signed on the treaty of Sugauli Treaty. All the territories up to the were to remain under the sovereignty of British. The territories conquered by the British up to Butwal were to be restored to the Nepalese. The border of Nepal was to extend up to the Mechi in the east and Mahakali in the west. The British residency was to be established in Kathmandu. The Nepalese and British were remain friends.
Rajendra Bikram Shah (1873-1904BS)
King Girwan Yuddha Bikram Shah died in 1816 and Rajendra Bikram Shah became the king under the regency of Queen Lalit Tripura Sunndari. She was the youngest wife Rana Bahadur shah. Bhimsen Thapa helped to the queen in her administration.
She was the virtuous woman and during her regency Temple of Tripureshwor Mahadeva, the rest house on the bank of Bagmati river, Dharahara, and many other works were constructed and credit especiallly goes to the primeminster Bhimsen Thapa. Bhimsen Thapa was the eldest son of Kaji Amar singh Thapa. He at the age of 11 began to serve Rana Bhadur shah. He appointed subeadar.
He became the first prime minister of Nepal. He made many reforms in the Nepal and some of the reforms made by him are as follows:
- He did his best to abolished slavery in Nepal but little success.
- He made parks and public gardens with beautiful flowers.
- He fixed the market rate of food grains and made uniformity in Maana- Pathee.
- He declared it illegal to take more interest from the debtors than what was already fixed.
- He reformed the postal service and facilitated the communication within the country.
- For the development of trade and industry he passed laws and adopted measures to make new town in different parts of the country.
- He established different law courts in different parts of the country to provide justice.
- He established many depots for the sale of timber from the jungle of Terai.
- He made great reforms in civil administration. He made the land survey in the country, divided the country into several districts, and appointed new officials for their administration etc. Bhimsen Thapa was thus one of the architect of the sovereign and beautiful Nepal. But In spite of being true to salt, true to trust, and true to king and country, he had to meet tragic end.
Kot Massacre and Rise of Rana
Two queens of Rajendra Bikram shah wanted to make their sons as a king of Nepal. Surendra Bikram shah was the son of Samrajya Laxmi and Ranendra Bikram Shah was the son of youngest queen Rajya laxmi Devi. Samrajya laxmi died in 1898 BS. Gagan Sing was killed. Queen Rajya Laxmi Devi was mad with the rage and sorrow when she come to know about the murder of one of her nearest Gagan Singh.
She swore to take revenge on the criminal and issued order to find out the culprit. She ordered all the chiefs and nobles to assemble the court yard of the palace. On second Aswin 1903 BS the prime minister, the commander in chief, the generals, and all other chiefs and nobles were assembled in the court yard of palace. Junga Bahadur was the clever to go to there with troops, who were stationed outside the court and instructed to move at his call.
The court yard was full of commanders, army chiefs, nobles and others. The queen began to roar and shouted out that not a man would be allowed to go out until the murderer of Gagan Singh was found. On the suspicion she ordered Bir Kishor to be killed. On seeing the troops of Junga Bahadur, queen became suspicious about JB Rana explained cleverly that he had brought the troops for her saftey. After the different activities the troops of Junga Bhahadur attacked on the assemble and killed almost all participants and began to flow the stream of blood. Those who remained, fled for their lives.
The queen saw all this from the window was very much afraid of Junga Bahadur and convinced herself that it was junga Bahadur who was fully responsible to the death of Gagan Singh. But she remain in silent. She thought that it is wise to take him to her side for her own safety and fulfillment of her design. So she made him prime minister and commander-in-chief of Army.
Queen was in hope that Junga Bahadur after being appointed to authority, would help her to fulfill her objectives. But he was no in favour of depriving Surendra of being his right, and placing her son, Ranendra, in his position. Rather he began to consolidate his position and increase his power. The queen was dissatisfied with his conduct and openly ordered him to kill Surendra. Queen wrote a letter to Junga Bahadur to carry out her order at once but Junga Bahadur wrote in reply that he could never be expected to do such an injustice work and warned her that in his capacity as prime minister he might be obliged to imprison and punish the queen herself according to the law for making attempt on the lives of prince.
Such hard reply of Junga Bahadur added fuel to the flames and queen began to make plans to murder to him. Inviting Junga Bahadur to a feast at Bhandarkhal, the palace garden, nearest individuals of queen planned to finished him there. Pandit Vijaya Raj was assigned the task of invitation him. But Junga Bahadur was clever enough to draw out all secrets from the Vijay raj and set off Bhandarkhal accompanied buy his brothers and some soldiers. Bir Dhwaj who had come t welcome them on the way was killed by Rana Mehar on the order of Junga Bahadur.
After reaching Bhandarkhal he first of all ordered all people to lay down their arms. This order created the terror on many and all laid their arm and surrendered. Those who tried to resist were killed. Other were taken to custody. Helpless and powerless Queen Rajya laxmi now prepared to pilgrimage to Benares with her son Ranendra Bikram.
After the forceful steps of Junga bahadur, King Rajendra bikram shah was living in Benaras with his queen. They wanted to return Nepal and were waiting for the suitable time. The enemies of Junga Bahadur were encouraging Rejendra to return Kathmandu.
King Rajendra Bikram shah gathered some self-army and came to Alau near the border of Nepal. These whole events were observed buy the Junga Bahadur and he sent a military force to encounter. Many personnel and other supporters of ex-king were killed and Rajendra Bikram Shah was arrested and brought to Kathmandu and put into jail in Bhaktapur. This event is known as Alau Parva in the history of Nepal.