The Fall of Kathmandu montage showing Prithvi Narayan Shah and the siege of Kathmandu by the Gorkhali army

The Fall of Kathmandu montage showing Prithvi Narayan Shah and the siege of Kathmandu by the Gorkhali army
V. Hunjan, Believe Collective 2010 (with thanks to Rebecca Van Ommen & Peter Mutuc)

The 18th Century saw the small state of Gorkha in west central Nepal develop into a regional power - the Gorkha Raj (empire) - largely due to its seemingly unstoppable Gorkhali army. Their leader, King Prithivi Narayan Shah, conquered and unified Nepal and then continued to expand Nepal's territories in every direction. It wasn't long before Nepal's expansion brought it into conflict with the British Raj in India, resulting in the Anglo-Gorkha War of 1814-16.

The British outnumbered and out-gunned the Gorkhali army but they grew to admire their fearless and honorable enemy. When the British finally emerged victorious, through the cunning use of their superior firepower, they lost no time in recuiting their one-time adversaries into their British Indian Army. Thus began the history the British Gurkhas.

The Gurkhas fought in nearly all of Britain's conflicts in the region, proving their loyalty and courage during the Indian 'Mutiny' of 1857. By the end of this era Gurkhas had fought across the world in both World War I and World War II and earned themselves thousands of medals and an unmatched reputation for bravery that continues to this day.

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We hope you enjoy exploring the rich and fascinating history of the British Gurkhas.

Dhanyabad - thank you.

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Comments (4)
  • sam  |  'wrong messege given, misleading.'
    ( When the British finally emerged victorious ) The British never won a war with The Gorkhali soldiers and they never overtook Nepal so how can you claim that the British was victorious. Though, Britsh had an upper hand in some of battle they never could take hold of the area they won. It was after a pact with the Rana prime minister that Gorkha soldiers were sent to British India Army and that British would no longer attack Nepal.
  • admin  |  'Re: 'wrong messege given, misleading.''
    Thank you for your comment Sam. I'm very sorry to correct you but the British won the Anglo-Gorkha War of 1814-16. This is a historical fact, not my personal opinion. The Gorkhali army fought bravely and honorably - earning the respect of their British adversaries - but they lost many battles and in the end the war. Part of the price of losing the war was the agreement that you mention: allowing Nepali soldiers, Gorkhaliharu, to be recruited into the British Army - which is where the story of the 'British Gurkhas' begins. Another consequence of the loss of the war was the sacrifice of a large part of 'Greater Nepal', that included places such as Sikkim, Darjeeling and most of the Terai, which the British demanded be handed over to the British Raj. Nepal then shrank to its current size and its borders have remained the same ever since.
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