The Rise and Fall of the Malla Dynasty
Shortly after the fall of the Licchavi Dynasty, the Malla Dynasty came into effect. This period of Nepal’s history started with the rule of Abhir Malla in the 12th century who slowly started to build an empire. The Malla line was of Newari descent and the family was able to rule Nepal between the 12th century and the 17th century. The period was characterized mainly by growth and development as many Malla kings took it upon themselves to develop new systems, to establish great cities and to institute new methods of government.
It was during the Malla Dynasty that the kingdom now known as Nepal truly became a great empire. During this dynasty the foundations for the great city of Kantipur, which later became Kathmandu, were laid. Over the course of five centuries only certain Malla kings are accredited with major achievements during the Malla reign. The first and foremost was probably Jayasthiti Malla, who had both a positive and a negative effect on his fellow countrymen even though his reign was relatively short. He commenced his reign towards the end of the 14th century and it was during his reign that the caste system, still in use in Nepal today, was implemented. Jayasthiti also implemented a number of social and economic reforms. For instance, he instated new methods of land measurement and allocation and he brought about the ‘Sanskritization’ of the Valley people. Other notable Malla kings were Pratap Malla, Siddhinarsingh Malla and Bhupatindra Malla.
The Malla Dynasty of Nepal started to fall into a decline shortly after the last major king – Yakshya Malla – died. Yakshya Malla ruled over Kathmandu Valley during the end of the 15th century, but was unable to carry on tradition and hand his crown down to only one son. Instead he divided his kingdom between his three sons – probably in an effort to avoid conflict. The three valley kingdoms became known as Kathmandu, Bhaktapur and Patan. Unfortunately, conflict was exactly what resulted from this decision since all three of his sons fought to gain control of each other's land and wealth. These wars were mutually debilitating and when King Prithvi Narayan Shahos decided to invade the valley, he discovered a valuable piece of land torn apart by internecine wars and a monarchy on the brink of extinction. Conquest was easy and complete, and with it came the end of the Malla Dynasty. The empire was later broken down into a number of small principalities which were later joined together to form the unified Kingdom of Nepal.