Prithivi Narayan Shah and Unification Campaign of Nepal

Prithvi Narayan Shah was the son of Narabhupal Shah. He was born on 27th Push, 1779 in Gorkha. Prithivi Narayan Shah was an eminent king. Gorkha evolved as the state of royal dynasty following the ascension of Kshetriya king, Drabya Shah, the son of the king of Lamjung, Yasobrahma Shah, to the throne of Gorkha in 1616 BS. Only after the establishment of Gorkha, it became more powerful and organized than the Sen states of the east, Malla states of Kathmandu valley, Baise and Chaubise states and then it successfully conducted unification campaign.

Although some states were more powerful than Gorkha, they had not become strong enough because of their ‘crying for help politics’ of the medieval period. Gorkha had been using slickness diplomacy from the very beginning. The eminent kings like Drabya Shah, Ram Shah, Narbhupal Shah and Prithivi Narayan Shah had ruled over this state. Although the efforts were made to unify Nepal in the medieval period, it was concluded only after the beginning of modern Nepal.

Establishment of Friendly Relation with Lamjung and Bhaktapur

Prithivi Narayan Shah signed treaty of friendship with Lamjung before invading Kathmandu valley. It was agreed in the treaty that was signed in 1740 AD that there would be non-aggression to one another and each of them would fight unitedly if another country invades them.

The success of Prithivi Narayan Shah to sign the treaty of friendship with neighboring enemy states made his plan of invading valley moved ahead smoothly. Similarly, he had established friendly relationship with another neighboring country by maintaining friendship with Birnarsingh Malla, the son of the  king of Bhaktapur, Ranajit Malla.

The Invasion to Nuwakot and Victory

Prithivi Narayan Shah invaded Nuwakot in 1743 AD. At that time, Nuwakot was under the control of Jayaprakash Malla, the king of Kathmandu and they had better and modern weapons than that of Gorkhalis and thus invasion by Prithivi Narayan Shah to Nuwakot got foiled.

For the second time on 25th September, 1744 AD, the Gorkha soldiers crossed over the Trishuli river early in the morning and attacked the highest point of Nuwakot, Mahamandal from two sides and took control over Nuwakot. During this, Prithivi Narayan Shah conquered over Belkot too.

Attempt to Embargo the Valley

Before invading the valley directly, an attempt was made to cordon it from all sides. In course of this, Gorkha had to fight with the states of Kathmandu valley and Lamjung. After the plan of Prithivi Narayan Shah to impose an embargo on Kathmandu valley from the north-west and south had become almost successful, it was necessary to impose an embargo from the east of the valley as well.

In course of this, Haribamsha Upadhyaya, Kalidas Khadka and Ramkrishna Kunwar invaded and conquered the seven villages; Dhulikhel, Khadpu, Chaukot, Panauti, Banepa, Nala, Sanga etc. on 23rd October, 1763 AD. Pharping came under the control of Gorkha without any battle on 2nd November, 1763.

Kathmandu valley was then cordoned from the east too. Prithivi Narayan Shah cordoned Kathmandu valley from all the sides and totally banned the entry of salt, cotton, foodstuff, and other things.

Battle of Sihranchok Fort

In May, 1755 AD, the joint army of the Chaubise states crossing the Chepe river and attacked Sihranchok fort. Under the leadership 86/Nepal Parichaya of Kalu Pandey, the Gorkha army marched towards Sihranchok to counter attack the invaders. There was fierce fighting between the soldiers of both sides. There occurred many casualties on both sides. The Gorkhali troops finally won the battle.

Treaty between Kathmandu and Gorkha

Although Kerung and Kuti, the major points of trade with Tibet, were under the control of Gorkha, Gorkha had not been able to take much advantage from trade.

It was necessary to sign the treaty with Kathmandu even for discording among the kings of Kathmandu valley.

Therefore, it was mentioned in the treaty done with Kathmandu in 1758 AD that both the countries will take advantage from the trade done with Tibet.

Victory over Makawanpur

Gorkha achieved victory over Makwanpur at night of 9th Bhadau, 1819 BS. At that time, the Sultan of Delhi, Alauddin Khijali had invaded Chitaud, India. Finally, accepting the defeat, the Rajput kings left for hidings in the Himalaya with their remaining troops.

Second Attack by Chaubise States

The king of Makwanpur, Digbandhan Sen was kept under house arrest in Gorkha. During the time people were in panic due to the embargo from all sides in Kathmandu valley, the Chaubise states united together to fight against Gorkha.

The unified troop of Chaubise states invaded Harni, Bhirkot, Dhulakot, Deurali etc. which were under the control of Gorkha. The unified troop of the Chaubise states could not resist the Gorkha army heading for counter attack. They dispersed leaving the battlefield.

Victory over Kirtipur

After capturing Pharping, Bode and Khokana, the Gorkhali troop invaded Kirtipur in 1757 AD. The joint attack by the troop of Jayaprakash Malla and the people of Kirtipur defeated the Gorkhali troop very badly. The chief of army, Kalu Pandey died in the battle.

The Gorkha soldiers like Jeevan Thapa and Lata Khatri also died. It was very difficult for Prithivi Narayan Shah to save his life too. After that, Gorkha defeated Makwanpur at night on Bhadau 9, 1819 BS.

In the meantime, Prithivi Narayan Shah foiled the attack by the Muslim troop of Gurgin Khan which enhanced enthusiasm and spirit of his troop.

Some guns, artilleries; etc. of the defeated Muslim army came to the hands of Gorkha soldiers. On 4th Asoj 1821 BS, the Gorkhali troop under the command of Surpratap Shah invaded Kirtipur for the second time.

His eye was damaged in the war. Daljeet Shah was wounded and several Gorkha soldiers died. The survived soldiers saving their lives reached Dahachok. Gorkha then invaded Kirtipur suddenly for the third time on Chait 3rd, 1822 BS and got victory over it.

Victory over Kathmandu

After the victory over Kirtipur, Prithivi Narayan Shah made a plan to attack the state of Kathmandu. The Gorkha troop invaded Kathmandu in 1825 BS from three directions; Bhimsensthan, Tundikhel and Nardevi on Sunday, Bhadau Shukla Chaturdashi (Indrajatra) and won over it.

Victory over Lalitpur

In course of getting victory over Lalitpur, Shreeharsha Pandey was sent to Patan as the messenger. The Pradhans (chief rulers) of Patan surrendered and accepted the rule of Prithivi Narayan Shah. Thus, the Gorkha troop invaded and captured Lalitpur on Oct. 6th, 1768.

Victory over Bhaktapur

After Gorkha state had captured Kathmandu and Lalitpur, the kings of the both states, Jayaprakash Malla and Tejnarsingh Malla respectively went to the refuge of Ranajeet Malla, the king of Bhaktapur.

Prithivi Narayan Shah asked the king of Bhaktapur to hand over both the kings to him. Explaining that it would not be humanitarian to hand over those who had sought refuge for life, Ranajit Malla did not accept the request from Gorkhas.

So, the Gorkha troop invaded Bhaktapur on Kartik Shukla Dwadashi 1826 BS. Finally, all the three kings of the valley surrendered. The Kunwar Kshetris from Lamjung and Kaski heavily participated in the victory campaign of Prithivi Narayan Shah in the Koshi region of eastern Nepal.

After the victory in the east, Prithivi Narayan Shah sent Ramkrishna Kunwar to Pyuthan. While getting the storehouse of gunpowder built there, Kunwar died around the same time on 21st March, 1771 AD.

After his death, his 18 years old son, Ranajit Kunwar was nominated the boss of newly won Jumla. Since he had been able to maintain peace and good governance there, he was made one of the four ministers of Nepal.

Ranjit Kunwar had three sons: Balnarsingh Kunwar, Balaram Kunwar and Rewanta Kunwar. The murderer of Rana Bahadur Shah, Sher Bahadur Shah was killed timely by Balnarsingh Kunwar and was made the minister for his work. His successors would also get the honor and job like him. The minister, Balnarsingh died on 24th December, 1814 AD.

Source: Government of Nepal Ministry of Communication and Information Technology Department of Information and Broadcasting

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