Gorkha Rule and Shah Dynasty - Uniting Nepal
Nepal was a divided country throughout the 15th, 16th, 17th and 18th centuries, and it was through the Gorkha rule and the Shah Dynasty, that Nepal became united. The Gorkhas were known to be a cruel and aggressive dynasty in the ancient times and they only ruled a few regions within Nepal with fear and terror. It wasn’t until King Prithvi Natayan Shah the Great became the driving force to unify the country, that the Gorkha became known as the more diplomatic Shah Dynasty.
It is known that before the rising of the Shah Dynasty, many other rulers like the Kirants, Gopalas and Licchavis ruled Nepal. But in the year 1559 King Dravya Shah founded the Kingdom of Gorkha and the reign of the Shah Dynasty had begun. As with many countries, the crown passed through many kings, and all were dedicated to expanding the kingdom to eventually unify the entire country. There are a few kings that stand out amongst them.
King Dravya Shah had begun expanding the Kingdom of Gorkha considerably. But after his death, his son Chhatra Shah, had only a year on the throne. He had passed away without an heir to the title and therefore his brother, King Ram Shah became King in the year 1606. Ram Shah would rule for twenty-six years and during his reign, he would become known as the King of reform, justice and righteousness. Not only did be gain popularity as King, but also gained land to expand the kingdom. Of his descendents, Prithvi Narayan Shah would make a noteworthy impact on the history of Nepal.
King Prithi Narayan Shah the Great went about his royal duties to unify Nepal with great enthusiasm and determination. He conquered Nuwakot in the year 1744 and Makawanpur soon followed in the year 1763. Kathmandu was not as easy to overrun, but by the year 1768 he has accomplished his task. He then secured Patan and Bhaktapur in the following months. Unifying Kathandu, Patan, Chaudandi, Makawanpur, Bijayapur and Bhaktapur under the Kingdom of Gorkha was his most significant achievement as King. He would also leave behind a legacy of being a warrior-king who was practical and did not use unnecessary force. The regions conquered by him were happier under his rule.
The Kot Massacre that took place in the year 1846, saw the Rana dynasty come into power, and the future Kings of Nepal were pushed aside on political issues. The next 104 years of Rana rule plunged Nepal and its people into suffering and unhappiness. It was up to another famous Shah King to break the hold of the Rana dynasty. King Tribhuvan Bir Bikram Shah fought the Rana dynasty and after years of dreaming of democracy and freedom, exile and fear for the lives of his family, he toppled the Rana Empire with the support of the Nepali people. He would go down in history as the Father of the nation and his fight for his people will always be remembered. The Tribhuvan Museum pays tribute to this great leader's life and time as king.
The history of Nepal is a turbulent one, but one of hope. If cruel and ruthless men, like the Gorkha, could transform into the Shah Dynasty that abolished slavery and united the country, then one day peace might return to Nepal.