Licchavi Dynasty of Nepal, History

It is estimated that between roughly 400 and 750 AD, the area now known as Kathmandu valley was ruled over by the Licchavi kingdom. It must be understood that historical records from the time are scant and most of what is understood of the Licchavi Dynasty is taken from buildings and stone inscriptions which date back to this time period. It is thought that the Licchavis migrated to Nepal from northern India in about 250 AD, but it took some time for them to establish a Kingdom here. According to Buddhist legends, the Licchavi family was ruling Kathmandu during Gautama Buddha’s lifetime. However, these links are speculative and it is unknown if this was really the case.

Also spelt ‘Lichavi’, the first Licchavi King to enter into the history books was Manadeva I. Manadeva was the first in a line of many and it was during the Licchavi Dynasty that an attempt was finally made to document information regarding the politics, society and economy in Kathmandu. These records were mainly written in Sanskrit and many of them focus on monetary donations to religious foundations. Through such documents, historians have learned of King Anshuverma who was instrumental in opening good trade routes between Nepal and Tibet. The ancient Chinese traveler Huen Tsang, recorded Anshuverma as being ‘a man of many talents’. The records also tell of the deeds of Bhrikuti – daughter of Anshuverma – who was married to Tsrong-tson Gompo of Tibet. It was Bhrikuti who was instrumental in the spreading of Buddhism to Tibet and China. Some time later King Narendradeval took it upon himself to initiate friendly relations with China, which would later lead to good relations with India. It was also during this period that a number of the temples and stupas, that are massive attractions today, were built. These include the Bodhnath Stupa, the Chabahil Stupa, the Deopatan shrine of Shiva, the Swayabunath Stupa and the village of Patan.

Clearly, the Licchavi Dynasty in Nepal accomplished much for the country and its people. Trade flourished, history books were opened and good relations with neighboring countries were started. Their rule covered a period of roughly 630 years, starting with Manadeva I and ending with Jayakamadeva. The last addition to the Sanskrit records was made in 733. Late in the eighth century, the Licchavi Dynasty started to fall into a decline. By 879 CE the Newari era had begun and the Licchavi Dynasty had come to a complete and final end.

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