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Nepal Before Unification
History unveils a rich tapestry of diversity
Rupa Kharel (rupi)     Print Article 
Published 2006-02-07 01:19 (KST)   
Nepal is blessed with an incredible diversity of natural beauty and an opulence of cultural varieties. It is also considered the country of Mount Everest and the birthplace of Buddha.

The Abhirs were the first rulers of Nepal and were a race of cow herders. They ruled the Kathmandu valley in the 8th century B.C. There were eight kings; the first one was Bhuktaman and the last Yaksha Gupta. Then a new Abhir dynasty of shepherds replaced the Abhir dynasty of cowherds. Altogether, there were three kings in this dynasty and the last ruler, Bhuban Simha, was defeated by the Kirati invaders.

Kirant Kings

Kirants came from the north-eastern Himalayan region and started their rule by defeating the Abhir dynasty. Around 29 Kirant kings ruled Nepal from 900 BC to 300 AD. Yalamber was the first Kirant king. Jitedasti, Sthunko and Patuk were also very famous Kirant kings. Gasti was the last.

The Soma King, Nimish, defeated Gasti and started to rule. Vaskar Varma was the last king of the Soma Dynasty. The Soma Dynasty remained for a very short period.

Lichchhavi Kings

The Lichchhavis came to Nepal from India, defeated Vaskar Varma of the Soma Dynasty, and started their own regime. Supuspa was the first Lichchhavi king of Nepal, in the 4th century AD.

Mandev was the most famous king and a ruler of considerable talent and abilities. It is known from historians that he ruled Nepal for 41 years. He became king at a young age, but ruled benevolently. His mother Rajyabati helped him rule the country. He was a patron of the arts.

Pagoda-roofed structures came into vogue. Sculptors fashioned exquisite images of their gods and kings. He built a great and famous palace called "Mangriha." He introduced Nepalese coins named "Manank" for the first time. During his dynasty, the Changu Narayan temple, Vishanku Narayan, Sikhor Narayan, and Ichangu Narayan were built. Another temple, Palanchowk Bhagawati temple was also established during his dynasty.

The Lichchhavi kings also developed arts and crafts. They extended the territory of Nepal. The people were happy and different works were done for the development of the nation in Nepal. Therefore, the Lichchhavi kings' period-rule, which lasted until the beginning of the 13th century, is known as the 'Golden Age' in the history of Nepal.

Thakuri Kings

After Mandev, Shivadev I became the king of Nepal. He made Amshuvarma the Prime Minister of Nepal. After his father-in-law's death, Amshuvarma took all power in own hands. The famous "Kailashkut Building" was built in this dynasty. He married his daughter Bhrikuti to the Tibetan king, Tsrong-Tsang Gampo, and he offered the hand of his sister to an Indian prince to make a strong relationship between Nepal and India.

After the death of Amsuvarma, power reverted to the Licchavis once again for a considerable period of time. Again, the real Thakuri Dynasty was founded by Raghadeva. Raghadeva established the Nepal Sambat Era, a calendar that is still followed by the
Newars of the Kathmandu Valley.

Another king, Gunakamadeva, introduced the important festivals of Indra Jatra, Macchendranath Jatra, and Krishna Jayanti. However, more importantly, Gunakamadeva founded Kantipur, today's Kathmandu.

The Thakuri reign is considered a "Dark Age" due to the trouble and disorder that occurred, which included multiple attacks made by foreign countries.

Malla Kings

After the Thakuris, the Malla dynasty came into existence in the 13th century. Ari Malla or Aridev was the first Malla king. Other famous Malla kings were Jayasthiti Malla, Pratap Malla, Jaya Prakash Malla, Siddhi Narshing Malla, Bhupatindra Malla etc.

The Mallas divided the Kathmandu valley into three kingdoms -- Kathmandu, Bhadgaon (Bhaktapur), and Patan, all ruled by separate kings. The last Malla kings were Jaya Prakash Malla, Tej Narshing and Ranjit Malla who ruled in Kathmandu, Bhaktapur, and Patan, respectively.

Among the Malla kings, Jaya Sthithi Malla and Pratap Malla were the most famous kings. They bought many changes and developments into their kingdoms. Jayasthiti Malla divided the citizens into different castes according to their religion and also divided the professions according to the castes. The trend of measuring and weighting was also managed from his dynasty.

Dhak, Mana-pathi (used to weigh things) were also introduced in his time. Jayasthiti Malla also implemented the rule of paying fines to increase the revenue of the country. The temple of Khumbheshor was also constructed during his period.

Pratap Malla was the son of Narshing Malla. The palace of Hanuman Dhoka was also made during his period and is still located in the middle of Kathmandu city. At that time, all kings ruled from this palace. To be safe from disease, Pratap Malla put the statue of Hanuman (God of Bravery) in the door of the palace, and called it Hanuman Dhoka Palace. The statue in front of the palace was his own. He made Rani Pokhari (Queen Lake) in Kathmandu for his queen, who lost control after their son's death.

Shah Kings

The Shah kings ruled in Nepal after the Malla kings. The founder of Shah Rule in Nepal in 1769 was Dravya Shah, who ruled Gorkha. Ram Shah and Narbhupal Shah were other famous Shah kings of Gorkha.

However, Prithivi Narayna Shah, the son of Narbhupal Shah, became the most famous king of the Shah Dynasty. He defeated the Malla rulers of Kathmandu, Bhaktapur and Lalitpur along with the other small principalities (Baise and Chaubise Rajya). He unified all these small countries into Nepal. He was the builder of the modern country. He made all Nepalese very proud of being the citizens of a powerful country.

Now, we are called as Nepali whether we live in the mountains, hills or the Terai. We have different cultures, languages and religions, but we all are Nepali. This is because of Prithivi Narayan Shah. Therefore, we celebrate the 27th Poush (Jan. 11 or 12 -- it differs due to the differentiation between the Nepali and English calendar) as "Unification Day' in the remembrance of Prithivi Narayan Shah.

The present monarch -- King Gyanendra Bir Bikram Shah Dev -- is number 13 in the Shah Dynasty.

©2006 OhmyNews
Other articles by reporter Rupa Kharel

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