The history of Nepal is something that every Nepalese looks back at and feels proud. Situated in the lap of Himalayas is a country with unbelievably diverse topography and culture.
The country might seem like a small piece of land, but it encloses varieties from all around the world. It is truly a wonder of nature, perfect eye candy for people all around the world.
Although being a small landlocked country, history here is vibrant. The struggles and hardships faced by the ancestors have preserved what remains of today's Nepal. The land of Gurkhas, land of braves are some of the many titles received by this small nation. The ancestors of this nation have enriched the pages of history with their passionate love for the country. A rock on earth to a nation with a rich and diverse culture, this is the epic tale of Nepal!
Very little is known about the ancient history of Nepal. According to the legends and ancient records, the ancient Hindu religion was prominent in Nepal. The documents state that the first dynasty to rule over Nepal is the Gopal dynasty. The Gopala were cow herders; they entered Nepal in search of pasture land for their cows. Legends say that a sage named Ne selected a king from among the cow herders, hence the word Nepal was formed. The name Nepal means under the care of sage Ne. Some do not agree with this and believe that Nepal is derived from the Tibetan language, and it means a wool house where Ne means house and pal implies wool. The rule of Gopal dynasty lasted for about 500 years.
After the Gopala, Mahispal dynasty took over; who were buffalo herders. They were defeated by the Kirats. Yalambar is known as the first king of the Kirat dynasty. He is also mentioned in the epic tale of Mahabharata. It is during the rule of the 7th Kirat king Jitedasti, Gautam Buddha visited Nepal to spread Buddhism. Moreover, during the rule of the 14th Kirat king Sthunko, Indian emperor Ashoka visited Lumbini and ordered the famous Ashoka pillar to be built, to mark the birthplace of Buddha. The Kirats ruled for about 700 years and were later replaced by The Lichhavi Dynasty at around 300 A.D.
Along with the start of the Lichhavi dynasty, the country took a significant leap in the fields of art and culture. The very first coin of Nepal, the Mananka was minted during the Lichhavi dynasty. The famous Changu Narayan (listed in UNESCO world heritage site list) temple was also built during this period. The most famous king from the Lichhavi dynasty remains to be Amshuverma, who married his daughter Bhrikuti to the Tibetan King Tsong Tsen Gampo. This established friendly relations with Tibet and also opened up trade routes with Tibet. Later the Mallas conquered over them in 1200 A.D.
Along with the Malla dynasty came the golden era of art, culture and architecture. They built beautiful palaces, also known as durbar squares which symbolize the magnificence of Nepalese architecture. They had some highly skilled architects and the temples and structures built by them were so picturesque, that they changed the history of Nepal forever! During this period, several artisans were sent to Tibet to work. On one such occasion, an artisan named Araniko was sent along with eighty other artisans to Tibet. Araniko, later on, rose up to a very high rank in the court of the Mongolian leader Kublai khan. The Kathmandu valley was ruled as a single unit during the time of King Jayastithi Malla but after the death of his grandson, the then king the valley split up into Kathmandu, Bhaktapur and Lalitpur. After a 550 year rule, the Mallas were defeated by the great king Prithivi Narayan shah as a part of his unification campaign of the entire country.
After the Shah dynasty took over the throne, a new era began in the history of Nepal, a period of expansion and unification. After the conquest of the Kathmandu valley, the unification campaign gained speed. At that time the country was split into several kingdoms ruled by different kings. King Prithivi Narayan shah wanted to unify all of them and protect the sovereignty of Nepal against the East India Company which had taken over India. The unification campaign continued even after the death of Prithivi Narayan Shah in 1775 A.D. Nepal now extended from Kangada in the wet to Tista in the east.
During 1814-1816 A.D Nepal participated in the Anglo Nepal war against the East India Company. Even after bravely fighting the invaders, Nepal was defeated and was forced to sign the treaty of Sugauli. The bravery of the Nepalese Gurkha was noted by the opposition and recognized all over the world. Because of the agreement, Nepal had to hand over one-third of its land in exchange for its autonomy.
After the war, Nepal was slowly taking steps towards globalization and making contacts with the outer world, a man named Junga Bahadur Rana began to rise in power. In 1846 the Koth massacre took place in the armoury of the palace of the then king Rajendra Bir Bikram Shah. Jung Bahadur Rana, his brothers and accomplices, murdered many vital members of the king's council and the palace and sized the power from the king. He became the prime minister and established a tyrannical rule, and the king was regarded as a nominal head while the prime minister ran the nation. This event was a turning point in the history of Nepal, a turn towards dark times.
Jung Bahadur Rana introduced Muluki ain or the national code of conduct in the country for the first time and also made the position of the prime minister and other relevant government posts hereditary to the Rana family. The voices of the people were suppressed, and discrimination among people was very high; it was indeed a very dark time in Nepal's history. The Ranas had good relation with the British people, but as soon as the British colonizers left India, the Ranas were under immense pressure from India. So, after a 104-year reign, the Ranas were met with revolution, and thus, their rule ended. King Tribhuvan took the throne in 1951 A.D and restored power to the throne.
With the removal of Rana rule and restoration of power to the throne, the nation was bustling with activity. King Mahendra issued a new constitution and placed the first Democratic election. In This election, Bishweshor Prasad Koirala of Nepali Congress won and was appointed as the first prime minister of Democratic Nepal. Later on, king Mahendra launched a royal coup to dissolve the government, stating it was a failure and established a party less panchayat system along with the issuance of a new constitution.
The political parties, however, continued to revolt against the system and in 1990 after a people's movement, the then king Birendra Bir Bikram Shah established a multiparty parliament with himself as the head. In May 1991 the first parliamentary elections were conducted. However, some were unsatisfied with the result as they supported the abolishment of the monarchical system. The communist party of Nepal (Maoist) started a revolt against the government and the monarchy. This action led to the first civil war in Nepal's history.
While the civil war was continuing, on the night of 1st June 2001, the royal family gets massacred. King Birendra, along with his family, is brutally assassinated in a shooting-spree. The case remains a mystery as it is still unknown who is responsible for this act. The king's eldest son temporarily became the king until dying of his wounds, and then Gyanendra (king Birendra's brother) became the king. On October 2002 king Gyanendra dissolved the existing government and took power in his hands.
Later after another people’s movement, in April 2006 the king reinstated the parliament. The king was stripped of his powers. So on 21st November 2006, a peace agreement was signed between the government and Maoists, concluding the civil war. On 28th May 2008, the newly elected constituent assembly declared the country as a federal democratic republic country. This was a historic and proud moment. The prime minister leads the nation while the president acts as the head of the state.
History has been made, and it will be shared to everyone, it is something to look back and learn from. The history of Nepal will forever be a part of the Nepalese lifestyle. At present, the country is still taking baby steps in recovering from the civil war, which had devastated the developmental progress. The future of the country lies in the hands of the brave new generations who dare to venture beyond the mountains and the swamplands.