The history of Nepal is a venerable and glorious one. Being a small landlocked country located between India and China, history also seems to have been affected by these countries. The civilization of Nepal has been traced back to a long ago, and until now, there have been myriad changes in the country.
Presently, Nepal is a multilingual, multi-religious, multicultural country. Before the mid-18th century, “Nepal” was mostly applied only to the Kathmandu valley. Little is known about the early history of Nepal.
The history of Nepal is amazing. So everyone wants to learn Nepal history. This article covers important points in Nepal’s History from the ancient era to the present era.
Nepal’s History is among the most asked questions in the Lok Sewa examination. The records of the Nepalese monarchy have been the fundamental and inseparable phase of the history of Nepal. Nepal history can be divided into the Licchavi, Malla, and Shah Dynasty. Nepal, home to Mount Everest, is dominated by the aid of the world’s most imposing mountains.
Although it is highly small, i.e., 147,181 square kilometers, 80 percent of its territory is occupied by way of the dramatic peaks of the Himalayan. Nepal can be divided into three geographical regions, every stretching from east to west across the country. They are the Himalayan region, hilly place, and Terai region.
In the 8th century BC, migrants from India settled in the place of Kathmandu. The Indian effect in the location was further consolidated through the Licchavi Dynasty, who delivered Hindu traditions and way of life (including the caste system).
History of Nepal
Gopalas and Kirats Dynasties
The history of Nepal dates back to 11000 years ago. The Vamshavalis, or the chronicles, the oldest of which was written during the 14th century, is fairly a reliable basis for the ancient history of Nepal. It mentions the rule of dynasties like Gopalas and Kirats. Mahabharata, which is said to have been composed around 1000 BC, mentions Yalamber, the first Kirati king to rule Nepal.
It is said that during the battle of Mahabharat, Yalamber went to witness the battle with the intention of taking the side of the losing party. Lord Krishna was cognizant of his intention, his valor, and strength of unified Kiratis, and thus, to deter the prolongation of the war, he cut off Yalamber’s head.
Kirats are said to have ruled Nepal for about 1000 years. Current Limbu and Rai are said to be descendants of Kirats. During the Kirat regime, the birth of the reverential figure Gautam Buddha took place, and the great emperor of China, Ashoka, also visited Kathmandu.
After defeating the last Kirati King, Gasti, the rule of the Lichchhavi dynasty commenced in Nepal. The documented history of Nepal begins with this dynasty. Changu Narayan Temple, which is one of the UNESCO world heritages, presently has the inscription of King Manadeva, who is of the Lichchhavi dynasty. The inscription dates back to the 5th century.
In the early 7th century, Amshuverma took over the throne from his father-in-law, who was from the Lichchhavi dynasty. He then started the Thakuri dynasty in Nepal. King Amshuverma married his daughter Bhrikuti to the famous Tibetan king, Tsong Tsen Gampo, and established a good relationship with Tibet. Thakuri kings ruled over parts of the country till the mid-12th century.
After the fall of the Thakuri dynasty, Arideva founded the Malla dynasty in Nepal in the 12th century. Mallas ruled in Nepal from the 12th to 18th centuries. Their era was a golden age of creativity, and many social and economic reforms took place.
Monuments in Kathmandu enlisted as world heritages were built during the Malla dynasty. After about two centuries of ruling, the kingdoms of the Malla dynasty were disintegrated into small principalities. Baise and Chaubise Rajya had emerged.
Later, the Malla dynasty started with King Jayasthiti Malla in the 14th century. He also brought many reforms to the country. After his death, the valley was divided into 3 kingdoms: Kathmandu, Bhaktapur, and Patan. This division led the Malla rulers into war for commercial gain, and this war consequently weakened them.
Around that time, there was a Shah ruler in one of the principalities, Prithvi Narayan Shah. He invaded the valley, defeated the Malla rulers, and founded the Shah Dynasty.
King Prithvi Narayan Shah was a true nationalist. He had the attributes of foreseeability, diplomacy, and valor. He saw the need to unify small principalities for the survival of the nation in the future. He set forth for this mission and occupied different small states, creating a unified Nepal. Kathmandu became the capital of modern Nepal by 1979. The Shah Dynasty ruled Nepal from 1769 to 2008.
During the mid-19th century, Jung Bahadur Rana became Nepal’s first prime minister to be at the helm of absolute power, relegating Shah Kings to mere figureheads. The autocratic Rana regime lasted for 104 years.
The revolution of 1951 started when few educated people and marginalized Ranas were dissatisfied with the Rana rule. Many of these Nepalese in exile have taken part in Indian Independence and wanted to liberate Nepal as well. During the exile, leaders like B.P. Koirala, Ganesh Man Singh, Girija Prasad Koirala, etc, had already formed political parties like Prajaparishad and Nepali Congress.
People like Dharma Bhakta Mathema, Shukraraj Shastri, Gangalal Shrestha, and Dashrath Chand gained martyrdom during the revolution. Due to this turmoil, King Tribhuvan fled from Nepal to India to revolt against the Rana regime. Eventually, the Shah’s Family returned to power. Rana’s regime ended, and non-Rana was appointed as Prime Minister of Nepal.
In early 1959, Tribhuvan’s son, King Mahendra, issued a new constitution, and 1st democratic election for the national assembly was held. Nepali Congress Party won, and its leader, BP Koirala, formed the government and was instated as Prime Minister.
However, this democracy was only short-lived, as by 1960, King Mahendra had already changed his mind. He dissolved the parliament and took direct control of the government. All the political parties were banned. In 1962, the Partyless Panchayat form of government was established. In 1972, Mahendra was succeeded by King Birendra.
King Birendra paved the way for democracy by establishing a multiparty parliament with the King as the head of State and an executive Prime Minister. In May 1991, the 1st parliamentary election was held. However, the Maoist party was against the elected government and monarchy. People’s Movement started in 1990. In February 1996, the Communist Party of Nepal started a violent insurgency in more than 50 districts of Nepal. It was a tough time, and about 13000 police, civilians, and insurgents were killed.
In 2001, on 1st June, the Royal Massacre took place, which killed all the family of the then King Birendra, leaving only Gyanendra behind. As per the culture, Gyanendra was crowned as the King of Nepal. He went to the multiparty parliament for some time but later dismissed the elected parliament to wield absolute monarchy and power. This again completely made a change to the Nepal history and history of Nepal.
As a result, in 2006, another people’s movement was launched, which was conducted jointly by the democratic parties. This led to 19 days curfew in Kathmandu and other areas. Then, 7 parties coalition resumed control of the government, and King was stripped of most of his powers.
Comprehensive Peace Agreement
In 2006, on November 25, Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala and Maoist Chairman Prachanda signed the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) to maintain peace in the country and to lead the country towards progression. The constituent assembly election was held on April 10, 2008. On May 28, 2008, Nepal was declared as the Federal Democratic Republic.
Major parties, Maoists, Nepali Congress, and UML agreed to write the constitution, replacing the interim constitution by 2010. However, the drafting of the constitution languished for many years due to disputes between different parties.
Devastating earthquake 7.8 Magnitude
In April 2015, a devastating earthquake of 7.8 magnitudes hit Nepal, causing huge loss of lives and ravaging monuments and infrastructures. This created a sense of urgency among the political parties to expedite the drafting of the Constitution. Finally, the new constitution was promulgated on September 20, 2015.
Local Election 2020 2076
Presently, the head of the state is the President, and the Prime Minister heads the Government. In 2020, the country is heading in a new direction as preparations are being made for the election. The election is to be done in 3 levels: local, provincial, and national, and full-fledged preparation is being done for the local level election as of now. Nepal is now holding its first local elections after 20 years in the history of Nepal. Election Commission Nepal is the managing and conducting body of Nepal election 2076.
Important Points to Remember in the History of Nepal
Nepal’s records used to be started by the first ruler, the Licchavi people. They used to rule the country. Narendra Deva, another Lichavi king, initiated pleasant family members with China. They had dominated for 630 years, the remaining ruler being Jayakamadeva.
After the Licchavi dynasty, Nepal was ruled by the Mallas. After 13-century Malla ruled for the next 500 years. Malla’s King was a fund of art and architecture. The Malla rulers provided important patrons of the arts, building elaborately decorated temples and palaces. Most of the famous cultural and heritage sites of Nepal were built during this period. Some examples are Basantapur Durbar Square, Bhaktapur and Lalitpur Durbar Square, and Changunaryan Temple.
Jayasthiti Malla was the first ruler. He ruled for a short period of time, but the valley was eminent for various social and economic reforms such as the ‘Sanskritization,’ new methods of land measurement and allocation, etc.
Yakshya Malla, the grandson of Jayasthiti Malla, ruled the Kathmandu Valley until almost the end of the 15th century, and the valley was divided into three parts: Kantipur, Bhaktapur, and Patan in 1484. The last rulers were Jaya Prakash Malla, Tej Narsingh Malla, and Ranjit Malla of Kantipur, Patan, and Bhaktapur respectively.
In 1769, by Prithvi Narayan Shah, the Nepalese kingdom was unified. He was an ancestor of Nepal’s past-day king. He was the one who stopped the Malla’s rule. Prithvi Narayan Shah was a king with whom Nepalese moved into the modern period of Nepal’s history.
He was the son of the king of Gurkha. King Prithvi Narayan Shah was quite aware of the political situation of the Valley. His goal was to take victory all over the state and unify a large state. King Prithvi Narayan Shah’s victory march began with the conquest of Nuwakot, which lies between Kathmandu and Gorkha, in 1744.
After a big struggle, King Prithvi Narayan Shah entered the Valley after the victory of Kritipur. After some time, Prithivi Narayan Shah additionally captured Kantipur by attacking the day of Indrajatra. People of Kantipur or Kathmandu were celebrating the festival. Prithvi Narayan Shah sat on the throne and wassailed with the aid of human beings 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, Jaya Prakash Malla and the king of Patan, Tej Narsingh Malla, took refuge in Bhaktapur, which was also captured after some time. Thus, King Prithvi Narayan Shah conquered the Kathmandu Valley, and Kathmandu became the capital of modern Nepal by 1769.
The British government needed some part of the Terai region, and the British launched their attack on the Nepali forces at Nalapani, the westernmost point of Nepal’s frontier, at the close of 1814. The Nepalese were defeated from there because of a large army of British and weapons. In 1991, a new constitution was introduced, and multiparty elections were held for the first time.