Nepal, History of

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The Kirat Period

  • Nepal's first recorded or discovered history began with the Kiratis, who arrived in the 7th or 8th century BCE from the west to the Kathmandu valley. Ther 29 kings ruled for about 1225 years (800 BCE-300 CE). Their first and best-remembered king was Yalambar, who is referenced in the epic Mahabharata.
  • The first king, Yalambar, laid the foundation of the Kirat dynasty after defeating the last ruler of the Abhir dynasty. When the Kirats occupied the valley, they made Matatirtha their capital. During his reign the kingdom extended to the Tista River in the east and the Trisidi in the west.
  • During the reign of the seventh king, Jitedasti, Gautama Buddha visited the valley with his several disciples. He visited the holy places and preached his religion. Although the Kirats welcomed the Lord Buddha and his disciples, they refused to follow his doctrine,.
  • During the reign of Sthunko, the 14th king, the Indian Emperor Aśoka came to the Kathmandu Valley with his daughter, princess Charumati. During his stay in the valley, he arranged for the marriage of his daughter Charumati to a local prince named Devpal. Prince Devpal and his wife Charumati lived at Chabahil near the Pashupati area. After the death of her husband, Charumati, who later became a nun, built a convent in his memory where she lived and practiced the Lord Buddha's teaching.
  • During the reign of Jinghri, the 15th king, the religious teaching of the Mahavira Jain was being preaching in India. Bhadrabhau, a disciple of the Mahavira Jain, came to Nepal, but Jainism never acquired the popularity of Buddhism in Nepal.
  • During the reign of Paruka, the 28th king, the Sombanshi ruler attacked his kingdom many times from the west. Although these attacks were repelled, he was forced to move from Gokarna to Shankhamul.
  • Gasti was the 29th and last king of the Kirat dynasty, a weak ruler who was overthrown by the Sombanshi ruler Nimisha. After their defeat, the Kirats moved to the eastern hills of Nepal and settled down, dividing into three small principalities, Wallokirat to the east of the Katmandu Valley; Majkirat, the central Kirat region; and Pallokirat to the far east of the Kathmandu Valley.

The Maurya Period

  • One of the earliest confederations of South Asia was that of the Śakya clan, whose capital was Kapilvastu, Nepal. Siddhartha Gautama (563-483 BCE), who renounced his royalty to lead an ascetic life and came to be known as the Buddha, was born to the Śakya king Sudhodhan, but by 260 BCE, most of northern India and southern Nepal were ruled by the Maurya Empire.
  • Although not all of Nepal was under Maurya occupation, there is evidence of the influence at least of the Maurya Emperor Aśoka, the legendary Buddhist proselytiser and ruler from 273 BCE to 232 BCE. Aśoka was a visitor to Kathmandu during this period and his daughter married a local prince, further spreading the religion.

The Licchavi Dynasty

  • The documented history of Nepal begins with the Changu Narayan temple inscription of King Manadeva I (c.464-505) of the Lichavi dynasty. The Lichavis are said to have migrated into Nepal from north India around 250. King Anshuverma opened trade routes to Tibet. His daughter, Bhrikuti, married Tibetan ruler Tsrong-tsong Gompo, who was instrumental in spreading the gospel of the Buddha in Tibet and China.
  • King Narendradeval initiated friendly relations with China and his successors laid the foundations of friendship with India by entering into matrimonial alliances with the Indian royal families.
  • Lichavi rule spanned a period of about 630 years; the last king was Jayakamadeva.

The Thakuri Dynasty

  • The Thakuri dynasty was a Rajput dynasty. Many Thakuri kings ruled over the country up to the middle of the 12th century.
  • Raghava Dev is said to have founded a ruling dynasty in October, 869, when the Lichavi rule came to an end. To commemorate this important event, Raghava Dev started the 'Nepal Era' which began on October 20, 869.
  • After the death of King Raghava Dev, many Thakuri kings ruled over Nepal up to the middle of the 12th century.
  • King Gunakama Dev (949-994) built a big wooden house out of a single tree which was called Kasthamandup. From Kasthamandup is derived the name Katamndu. Gunakama Dev founded the town ofKantipur, today's Kathmandu.
  • Vijaykama Dev was the last king of this dynasty. After his death, the Thakuri clan of Nuwakot occupied the throne of Nepal.

The Nuwakot Thakuri Kings

  • Bhasker Dev succeeded Vijayakama Dev, establishing Nuwakot-Thakuri rule in the country.
  • Shanker Dev was the most illustrious ruler of this dynasty; he ruled from 1067 to 1080. During his reign, the Buddhists wreaked vengeance on the Hindu Brahmins (especially the followers of Shivism) for the harm they had received earlier from Shankaracharya III. Shaner Dev tried to pacify the Brahmins harassed by the Buddhists.

The Suryabansi Rajput Kings

  • Bam Dev, a descendant of Amshuverma, defeated Shanker Dev in 1080 and suppressed the Nuwakot-Thakuris with the help of the nobles and restored the old Solar Dynasty rule in Nepal for the second time.
  • Harsha Dev, the successor of Bam Dev, was a weak ruler. There was no unity among the nobles and they asserted themselves in their respective spheres of influence. Taking this opportunity, Nanya Dev, a Karnatak king, invaded Nepal from Simroungarh. He took up residence at Bhadgaon and ruled for some time.
  • Mukunda Sen, the King of Palpa, was another invader of the Nepal valley. He plundered and destroyed many houses and looted a huge amount of property.

The Malla Dynasaty

  • After the fall of the Thakuri dynasty in the 12th century, another dynasty's reign started in Nepal, founded by Arideva or Ari Malla. This dynasty is popularly known as the Malla Dynasty. Over the next two centuries it grew into a large empire before disintegrating into small principalities which became known as the Baise Rajya, i.e., the twenty-two principalities. This was more or less coincidental with the emergence of the Chaubisi Rajya, i.e., the twenty-four principalities. The history of these principalities remains shrouded up until the time when they joined other kingdoms, both large and small, to form the unified Kingdom of Nepal.
  • Jayasthiti Malla reigned towards the end of the 14th century. Though his rule was rather short, his place among the rulers in the Valley is eminent because of his various social and economic reforms such as the 'Sanskritization' of the Valley people and new methods of land measurement and allocation.
  • Yakshya Malla, the grandson of Jayasthiti Malla, ruled the Kathmandu Valley until almost the end of the 15th century. After his death, about 1484, the Valley was divided into three independent Valley kingdoms, Kathmandu, Bhaktapur and Patan. This division led the Malla rulers into internecine wars for territorial and commercial gains.
  • Mutually debilitating wars gradually weakened them and by the time of the invasion of King Prithvi Narayan Shah, they had by themselves reached the brink of political extinction. The last rulers were Jaya Prakash Malla of Kathmandu, Tej Narsingh Malla of Patan, and Ranjit Malla of Bhaktapur.

The Shah Dynasty

  • With Prithvi Narayan Shah (c.1769-1775), Nepal enters the modern period of Nepal's history. He was the ninth generation descendant of Dravya Shah (1559–1570), the founder of the ruling house of Gurkha. Prithvi Narayan Shah succeeded his father Raja Nara Bhupal Shah on the throne of Gorkha in 1743.
    • Raja Prithvi Narayan Shah was quite aware of the political situation of the Valley rajadoms as well as of the Barsi and Chaubisi 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.
    • His assessment of the situation among the hill principalities was correct, and the principalities were subjugated fairly easily. His 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. Thus the Valley's communications with the outside world were cut off. The occupation of the Kuti Pass in about 1756 stopped the Valley's trade with Tibet.
    • Finally, he entered the Valley. At the victory of Kirtipur, Raja Jaya Prakash Malla of Kathmandu was defeated by Prithvi Narayan Shah's army. The capture of Kathmandu on 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 new Raja of Kathmandu. Prithvi Narayan Shah sat on the throne and was hailed by the people as the Raja of Kathmandu. Jaya Prakash Malla managed to escape with his life and sought asylum in Patan. When Patan was captured a few weeks later, both Jaya Prakash Malla and the Raja of Patan, Tej Narsingh Mallal, took refuge in Bhaktapur, which was also captured after some time. Thus the Kathmandu Valley was conquered by Prithvi Narayan Shah and Kathmandu became the capital of the modern Nepal in 1769.
    • Prithvi Narayan Shah was successful in bringing together diverse religious and ethnic groups in one nation. He was a true nationalist in his outlook and was in favor of adopting a closed-door policy with regard to his neighbors. His social and economic views not only guided the country's socio-economic course for a long time, but his use of the imagery, a yam between two boulders with regard to Nepal's geopolitical situation, formed the principal guideline of the country`s foreign policy for future centuries.
    • In 1791, after the consolidation of the Nepali peoples, Rana Bahadur began a westward expansion conquering the Rajadoms of Almora, Kumaon, and Garhwal.
    • By 1803, Girvan Yuddha Bikram had reached the Yamuna River where he was stopped by the eastward expanding Rajadom of Jammu. A stalemate ensued which was ended by the Treaty of the Yamuna River which established that river as the boundary between the two nations.
  • In 1926, Tribhuvan Bir closed the mountain passes to Tibet after the Chinese Empire occupied Tibet. In order to survive economically, the Maharajadom increased its trade with its Himalayan neighbors on either side and with its Indian neighbors to the south. This increasing contact opened up the nation to a better relationshipJ with its Himalayan neighbors which resulted ultimately in these nations joining together in the Himalayan Confederacy. This state of affairs lasted until the atom bombs were dropped on Beijing in 1945.

Contemporary History

  • 1934 - On January 15, at 2:28 p.m., an earthquake of 8.0 magnitude struck the Kathmandu Valley and northern Bihar. The three major towns of the Kathmandu Valley, Kathmandu, Bhaktapur, and Patan were severely affected and almost all the buildings collapsed. Large cracks appeared in the ground and several roads were damaged in Kathmandu.
    The town of Birgunj was destroyed, along with its telephone line to Kathmandu. 10,700 to 12,000 people were killed.
  • 1951 - On Febrary 18, the Rana system of government (government by the prime minister) is abolished.
  • 1955 - On March 15, Raja Tribhuvan dies and is succeeded by his son Mahendra.
  • 1959 - On February 12, a democratic constitution is promulgated.
  • There is no constitution of 16 December 1962.
  • On 31 January Raja Birendra succeeds to the throne.
  • 1975 - Nepal joins Bhutan, Sikkim, and Lo to form the Himalayan Confederacy. The four nations agree to be in the same time zone: UTC +6:00.
  • 1977 - The nations of the Himalayan Confederacy enter into a monetary union, the basic unit to be known as the Himalayan Rupee (HR).
  • 1977 - The nations of the Himalayan Confederacy enter into a postal union.
  • 1982 - Nepal joins Bhutan, Sikkim, and Lo to create the Himalayan Railway System.
  • 1990 - In July, the Sansad legislated a change in the order of succession to the throne from male primogeniture to equal primogeniture.
  • 1994 - The final section of tracks of the the Himalayan Railway System is laid.
  • 2001 - On 1 July, the Princess Shruti, having survived the mass murder of her family on 1 June, succeeds to the throne as the first maharani of Nepal.
  • 2015 - On April 25, at 11:56 a.m., an earthquake of 7.8 magnitude strikes Gorkha District, killing nearly 9,000 people and injuring about 22,000, the worst natural disaster to strike Nepal since the 1934 earthquake. The ground motion recorded in Kathmandu valley was of low frequency which, along with its occurrence at a time when many people in rural areas were working outdoors, decreases the loss of property and human life. The earthquake triggers an avalanche on Mount Everest which kills 21 people
    It also triggers another avalanche in the Langtang Valley where 250 people are reported missing. Continued aftershocks occur throughout Nepal at intervals of 15–20 minutes, with one shock reaching a magnitude of 6.7 on April 26 at 12:54. The country also has a continued risk of landslides.
  • 2015 - On May 12, at 12:35, a major aftershock, with a magnitude of 7.3, and with its epicenter near the Tibetan border between the capital of Kathmandu and Mt. Everest, occurs killing more than 200 people and injuring over 2,500.
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