Kabul expeditionary force on the march - 3rd Gorkha Rifles 1878

Kabul expeditionary force on the march - 3rd Gorkha Rifles 1878
c/o Wikimedia

The origin of the term 'lahorey' or 'lahure' (pronounced 'lau-ray') - literally a man from Lahore - is commonly used in Nepali as a way of referring to Gurkha soldiers. The term dates back to before the 1814-16 Anglo-Gorkha War, when the Sikh rulers in the Punjab (now in modern Pakistan) began recruiting Gurkhas into their own army - having recognised the quality of Gorkhali troops long before the arrival of the British in India. Much later, the British continued the tradition of recruiting and training Gurkhas in Lahore. As a result, the Nepali term 'lahorey', which is still used today, came into common use in Nepal well before the time of the British recruitment of Gurkhas.

Almost immediately after the Anglo-Gorkha War, Gurkhas (then called 'Goorkhas' or 'Gorkahs') began serving under contract to the British East India Company. In fact the 'Nusseeree Pulteen' (later to become the 1st King George's Own Gurkha Rifles) was raised in the Kumaon district well before the end of the Anglo-Gorkha War and it fought for the British against Amar Singh Thapa's forces at Malaun in April 1815. After the war, the newly created Gurkha units fought in the Third Marattha or 'Pindaree' War of 1817; in Bharatpur in 1826; in the Anglo-Sikh Wars of 1846 and 1848; and in the Indian 'Mutiny' of 1857.

After the Anglo-Gorkha War, Balbahadur Kunwar, the 'defender of Khalanga', left Nepal to serve the the Sikh leader, Ranjit Singh, in Lahore. Gurkha Sikh troops served loyally under Ranjit Singh until 1823 when their entire battalion was massacred by Afghan artillery in the Sikh-Afghan War. Singh, the 'Lion of of the Punjab' said of them, 'Among all my trained soldiers, only the Gorkhas stood their own against Muslim attack.'

After the British conquered the Sikhs in the Second Anglo-Sikh War (1845-46), the British continued the tradition of enlisting and training Gurkhas in the city of Lahore. So the term 'lahorey' continued to be used, even though the people whom the lahoreys were serving had changed. The word is still used in Nepal today - although few people know why, least of all the people of Lahore.

Timeline Menu