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Pokhara to Kathmandu

and a little bit of history


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September 27th Pokhara to Kathmandu, Nepal

As we left, we were just leaving Pokhara, when KK said “Stop the car” and we realised the cloud had lifted, giving glorious views of the Annapurnas. They were not easy to photo, but look at our efforts below! After this basically we spent much of the day in the car, as we were stuck in a monumental traffic jam into Kathmandu itself. So, a little a about Nepal’s history.
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Further History of Nepal
Malla Dynasty c1201-1769
Very little is known about the early history of the Mallas, although they have claimed Kshatriya (warrior caste) status for themselves.The first of the Malla kings came to power in Kathmandu Valley c1200. The Malla period was a golden one of 600 years, though peppered with fighting over the valuable trade routes to Tibet. The Mallas patronised the Maithili language, afforded equal status to Sanskrit in court. The long Malla period witnessed the continued importance of the Kathmandu Valley as a political, cultural, economic centre of Nepal. The time of early Malla kings was a period of upheaval in and around Nepal. In 12th century, Muslim Turks (Mughals) set up a kingdom at Delhi, and in 13th c, Turko Afghan khaljis expanded their control of northern India. The name malla is said to have come about because the first of their rulers to govern Nepal, Arideva, was very fond of wrestling. He added the word ‘Malla’ (which means wrestling in Sanskrit), after the name of his son when the news reached him of the birth while he was himself wrestling. His successors continued to use the word after their names, so it became the name of their dynasty.
1. 1200-16 Ari(dev) Malla
2. 1216-55 Abhay Malla. He died In 1255, along with 1/3 of the population of Kathmandu in an earthquake and the Kingdom was divided between his 2 sons into Bhadgaon and Patan-Kathmandu kingdoms
In the 13th/14th C, regional kingdoms increasingly militarised, eg. in west Nepal, around Dullu (Jumla Valley), an alternative seat of political and military power grew up around a separate dynasty of Mallas (unrelated to the Mallas of Kathmandu), who reigned until the 14th c. These Khas kings expanded into west Tibet and raided into Kathmandu Valley 1275-1335. In 1312 the Khas king, Ripumalla, visited Lumbini and had his own inscription carved on Ashoka's pillar. He then entered the Kathmandu Valley to worship publicly at Matsyendranath, Pashupatinath, and Swayambhunath; acts to publicly announce his overlordship in Nepal and signified the temporary breakdown of royal power within the valley.
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Jaysthithi Malla 1382-95, was the strong, decisive ruler that Nepal needed. He enacted a series of reforms to reunite/ strengthen the country under a single Malla monarch. He codified its laws, including the caste system. This Malla period saw the steady growth of the small towns that became Kathmandu, Patan, and Bhadgaon (Bhaktapur). Royals in Patan and Bhadgaon struggled with rivals, relying on the towns as their power bases. After the death of Jayasthitimalla, his sons divided the kingdom and ruled collegially, until Jayajyotirmalla, the last surviving son, ruled alone 1408-28.
1395-? Dharma Malla, 1395-? Kirti Malla, 1395-1428 Jyoti Malla, (3 sons of Jaysthiti, share power)
Yakshya Malla (son Jyoti) 1428-82 was a great conqueror, extending the boundaries of Nepal to Bengal, Kerung- Kuti, Gorkha and North Bihar. Banepa town (small kingdom) is also pulled into his kingdom. Yakshamalla represented the high point of the Mallas as rulers of a united Nepal. He built Mul Chok 1455, the oldest palace section in Bhadgaon. Struggles among the landed aristocracy and leading town families (pradhan), especially acute in Patan, were controlled during his reign. The royal family made Manesvari (Taleju), a manifestation of Shiva's consort, their personal deity. He made the mistake of dividing his kingdom between 6 sons and a daughter: Raya Malla (Bhaktapur/ Bhadgaon kingdom); Ratna Malla (Kathmandu/Kantipur kingdom); Rana Malla (Banepa kingdom); Ari Malla, Purna Malla, Ram Malla and daughter Dharmavati (Patan/Lalitpur kingdom). At first, the 6 sons of Yakshamalla attempted to reign collegially, in their grandfathers' pattern.
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Morning mist in the Annapurnas
Ratnamalla 1482-1520 was the first to rebel, seizing Kathmandu 1484 and ruling there until his death. Rayamalla ruled Bhadgaon with the other brothers until his death, when the crown there passed into the hands of his descendants. Ramamalla took Banepa until its reincorporation into the Bhadgaon kingdom in 1649. Patan remained dominated by local nobility, until Sivasimhamalla, a descendant of Ratnamalla, conquered it 1597 and united it with Kathmandu. However, on his death Kathmandu and Patan were given to different grandsons and separated again. Nepal thus remained split into 3 competing kingdoms, based on Bhadgaon, Kathmandu, Patan. The rest of what we call Nepal consisted of a fragmented patchwork of almost 50 independent states, stretching from Palpa and Jumla in the west to the semi-independent states of Banepa and Pharping, most of them minting their own coins and maintaining standing armies. These tiny kingdoms were unable to maintain their independence leading to struggles and amongst the rulers until in 1768, they all fell into the hands of Prithivi Narayan, Shah of Gorkha, who united them into a nation. Most notable Malla kings of this later era were: Pratap Malla (Kantipur), Siddhi Narasimha Malla (Lalitpur), Bhupatindra Malla (Bhaktapur 1696-1722), Bhaskar Malla (Kathmandu 1700-14). The period of the three kingdoms, the later Mallas, lasted to mid-18th c. An artistic flowering of Kathmandu Valley occurred, and the palace complexes in the 3 main towns achieved their present-day forms. Kings based their legitimate rule on their role as protectors of dharma, and were devout donors to religious shrines. They built many of the older temples, gems of late medieval art and architecture. Buddhism remained a vital force, especially in its old seat of Patan. Newari was in regular use as a language by 14th c in Kathmandu Valley. Maithili became a popular court language 17th c. In the west, Khas bhasha, language of the Khasa, evolved into present-day Nepali. The final centuries of Malla rule were a time of political change outside Kathmandu Valley. In India the powerful Mughal Dynasty (1526–1858) had a major indirect impact. In Tibet domestic struggles in the 1720s led to decisive intervention by the powerful Qing rulers of China (1644–1911) who installed the 6th Dalai Lama (highest ranking Tibetan religious leader) in Lhasa as the temporal power 1728. By 17th c, the mountain areas and Kiranti region maintained traditional tribal communal systems, influenced by Hindu ideas. In the west and south of the three kingdoms, many petty states (Baise states) were ruled by dynasties of warrior (Kshatriya) status, claiming an origin from princely (Rajput) dynasties. The kingdoms of Kathmandu, Patan, and Bhadgaon periodically allied with princes among these confederations.
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Petty Kingdoms
Nepal was scattered, with fragmented kingdoms in the past. Different dynasties like Mallas, Lichcahhvis, Shah, Khas and Sen ruled over such kingdoms.
! There were 22 kingdoms like Jajarkot, Jumla, Rukum, Salyan, Achham, in the Karnali region. These kingdoms were called Baise Raja.
! There were 24 kingdoms in the Gandaki region. These kingdoms were called Chaubise Rajya, of which Kaski, Lamjung, Tanahun, Palpa and Gorkha were the more important.
! Kathmandu Valley was divided into three kingdoms – Kantipur, Patan and Bhadgaun.
! Eastern Nepal was divided into three kingdoms- Makwanpur, Chaudandi and Bijayapur.
The relations among these states was not good. The kings often engaged in war with each other. The number of states ruled by a king increased and decreased from time to time. At the same time, the British East India Company was conquering India and planning to occupy Nepal for the extension of their trade with Tibet. So, the existence of Nepal was in danger and Prithvi Narayan Shah, the king of Gorkha started the unification campaign of Nepal.
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Gorkha, Lambjung and Kaski Kingdoms were kingdoms in the confederation of 24 states, known as Chaubisi rajya. It extended from Marshyangdi River in the west to Trishuli River in the east, which separated it from the kingdoms of Lamjung and Nepal respectively. According to legends, one of the earliest Shah rulers was Rishi-raj Rana-ji, of the Lunar dynasty (the warrior caste of Hindu mythology) with the title Bhattarak. The dynasty remained in power for 13 generations until the Muslim Yavanas took power, forcing the Bhattarak to abdicate, although he retained his caste family name, Rana-ji. The rajas were titled Rana-ji-ji Rava for a further seventeen generations. Akbar, the Mughal emperor, (1542-1605) wished to marry the daughter of Fatte Sinha Rana-ji Rava, but was refused because he was Muslim rather than Hindu. This decision led to war. Many rajput, including Fatte Sinha Rana-ji Rava, were killed. The survivors of the war were led by Jagdeva to the northern hills in 1417 AD. From his younger son Micha, a dynasty of rajas commenced in Nuwakot. Kulamandan, the eldest son of Jagdeva, became ruler (shah) of Kaski. Kalu, his second son was sent to Dura Danda in Lamjung at the people's request to become their king. Kalu was killed by the Sekhant tribe and in the 1500s, another son, Yasobramha, became ruler of Lamjung. Yasho Brahma Shah or Yasobam Shah was the youngest son of Kulamandan Khan (later Shah title given by Hindustan emperor), Raja of Kaski. The second son of Yasobramha, Dravya Shah (1559-70) conquered the Ghale people of Gorkha and in1559 Prince Dravya Shah replaced the Khandka chiefs to become first King of Gorkha Kingdom. His son Purna Shah (1570-1605) and grandsons Chatra Shah (1605-9) and Ram Shah (1609-33) introduced social, judicial and economic reforms. Ram abdicated in favour of Dambar Shah (1633-45), of whose son Krishna Shah (1645-61), grandson Rudra Shah (1661-73) and great grandson Prithvipati Shah (1673-1716) we know very little. The ancient name of Gor-kha is White Zhou or Shakya. When Prithvipati’s son Nara Bhupal Shah (1716-43) succeeded he began to consolidate the area. From 1736, the Gorkhalis engaged in a campaign of expansion begun by Nara Bhupal Shah, and continued by his son, King Prithvi Narayan Shah and grandson Prince Bahadur Shah. Over the years, they conquered huge tracts of land to the east and west of Gorkha.

Barahi Shrine with KK
Gorkha Period
1. Narabhupal Shah 1716-42 (in name only from 1737) The Kingdom of Gorkha (Ghurkha), under Narabhupal Shah, begins a war of unification against the other Nepalese states, forging a more unified state. A shock defeat in 1737 leaves its king a broken man.
2. Prithivi Narayan Shah 1742-68 (son Narabhupal) In 1744 he conquers Nuwakot and Belkot; 1768 conquers Kathmandu and creates a reunified kingdom. He become Prithiv I of the unified country (Shah period)
Shah Dynasty, unification of Nepal
With Prithvi Narayan Shah I (1744–68), we move into the modern history. He was 9th generation descendant of Dravya Shah (1559–1570), founder of the ruling house of Kingdom of Gorkha. Prithvi Narayan Shah succeeded his father Nara Bhupal Shah to the throne of Gorkha in 1743. King Prithvi Narayan Shah was quite aware of the political situation of the Valley kingdoms as well as of the Baise and Chaubise principalities. He saw the need to unify the small principalities, with the conquest of Nuwakot, between Kathmandu and Gorkha, in 1744. Siddhi Narayan Shah was the last king of Kaski state during Chaubise Rajya. Though a skillful king, he could not secure Kaski against Prithvinarayan. Prithvi Narayan Shah, king of Gorkha, planned to unify Nepal so he sent his troops to conquer Nuwakot, but was defeated by Jayanta Rana, chief of Nuwakot, aided by the king Jaya Prakas Malla of Kantipur. Nuwakot was the main trade route between Kantipur and Tibet. Prithvi Narayan Shah visited Banaras to met king Hari Shah of Jajarkot and then king Mukunda Sen of Palpa in Butwal. He established friendly relations with king Ripumardan Shah of Lamjung. Lamjung would remain neutral while Gorkha moved east and Gorkha would assist Lamjung in attacking the Chaubise states. Prithvi Narayan Shah established friendly relations with Kaski, Tanahun and Papa. He signed a treaty with Bhaktapur where Bhaktapur would remain neutral when Gorkha attacked Kantipur, and Gorkha would give Sangu and Changu to Bhaktapur in return. Prithvi Narayan Shah signed a treaty with the king Jaya Prakash Malla of Kantipur that Gorkha and Kantipur would use each other`s currency, gold acquired from trade with Tibet would be divided between them, and Kantipur would carry out trade with Tibet via Nuwakot. Thus, Prithvi Narayan Shah made relationship with all the states and secured Gorkha from all sides to start his unification campaign. He turned his attention to the Newar Confederacy of Nepal Mandala, basd in Kathmandu Valley. Parts of Baise-Rajya fell 1760, Tulsipur-Dang Rajya 1763-75, Chauhan Raja Nawal Singh (House of Tulsipur) 1775. After the victory of Kirtipur in 1756 King Jaya Prakash Malla of Kathmandu sought help from the British East India Company who sent Captain Kinloch. The British force was defeated by Prithvi Narayan Shah who took Kathmandu 1768. Jaya Prakash Malla took asylum in Patan. When Patan too was captured a few weeks later, Jaya Prakash Malla and king Tej Narsingh Malla of Patan took refuge in Bhaktapur, until it was captured in 1769.

Later Shah Dynasty
1775-78 Pratap. The Shah dynasty expanded into South Asia until checked by the Chinese.
1778-1807 Ranabahadur. In 1788, the Gorkhalis turned their attention north and invaded Tibet, seizing the border towns of Kyirong and Kuti, and forced the Tibetans to pay an annual tribute. When the Tibetans stopped paying, the Gorkhalis invaded Tibet again in 1791 and plundered Tashilhunpo Monastery in Shigatse. This time the Chinese army came to Tibet's defence and advanced close to Kathmandu but couldn't achieve success. After 1800, the heirs of Prithvi Narayan Shah proved unable to maintain firm political control over Nepal.
A period of internal turmoil followed.
1807-17 Girban Rivalry between Nepal and the British East India Company over the princely states bordering Nepal/ British-India eventually led to the Anglo-Nepalese War (1814–16), in which Nepal suffered a heavy defeat. The Treaty of Sugauli was signed in 1816, ceding large parts of the Nepalese controlled territories to the British.
1817-82 Rajendra (1846 Nepal falls under the sway of hereditary chief ministers known as Ranas, who dominate the monarchy and cut off the country from the outside world). The Nepalese–Tibetan War of 1855/6 in Tibet between the forces of the Tibetan government (Ganden Phodrang, under administrative rule of the Qing dynasty) and the invading Nepalese army, resulted in victory for Nepal.
Rana rule Political instability following the war resulted in the ascendancy of the Rana dynasty of Khas Chhetri Rajput origin, which made the office of Prime Minister of Nepal hereditary in their family 1843-1951. Beginning with Jung Bahadur, the first Rana PM, the Rana dynasty reduced the Shah monarch to a figurehead. Rana rule was marked by tyranny, debauchery, economic exploitation, religious persecution. (1882 King Surendra, 1882-1912 King Prithiv II)
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This made us laugh- look carefully at the signage!
Shah Restoration In 1950, India played an important role in supporting King Tribhuhvan (1912-55), whom the Rana leader Mohan Shumsher Jang Bahadur Rana had attempted to depose and replace with Tribhuhvan’s infant grandson King Gyanendra. With Indian support for a new government consisting largely of the Nepali Congress, Tribhuvan ended the rule of the Rana dynasty in 1951.
Mahendra 1955-72 Nepal remains the only country with hinduism as its state religion. Unsuccessful reforms and constitution during the 1960s/70s and 80s economic crisis led to a popular movement which brought about parliamentary elections and the adoption of a constitutional monarchy 1990. Nepalese Civil War (1996–2006) between government forces and the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist).

Birendra (brother of Gyanendra) 1972-2001. In 2001 Crown Prince Dipendra dressed up in combat uniform and armed himself with five weapons. He calmly gunned down his parents, King Birendra and Queen Aishwarya, his sister Princess Shruti, younger brother Prince Nirajan, and cousin Princess Sharada. Several other relatives were wounded. Dipendra was finally shot by persons unknown (either his own hand or slow-reacting Palace Guard) and lay comatose until the 4th June. Despite his actions, Nepal swore him in as successor to the throne.
Gyanendra 2001-08 returned to the throne. His imposition of direct rule in 2005 provoked a protest movement unifying the Maoist insurgency and pro-democracy activists. He was eventually forced to restore Nepal's House of Representatives and in 2008 the Nepalese Constituent Assembly formally abolished the kingdom when he abdicated, declaring the Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal in its place.

People of Nepal
Chhetri (Kshetri, Kshettri, Kshetry, Chhettri, क्षेत्री) historically Kshettriya/ Kshetriya, are Nepali speakers of the Khas group. Chhetri was a caste of administrators, governors and military elites in the medieval Khas Kingdom and Gorkha Kingdom. The nobility of Gorkha Kingdom were mainly from Chhetri families and they had a strong presence in civil administration. Most Prime Ministers before democracy belonged to this caste. Gorkha-based aristocratic Chhetri families were Pande dynasty, Basnyat dynasty, Thapa dynasty and Kunwars (Rana dynasty & other Kunwars). Khas Chhetris (referred as Khas Rajputs) were traditionally considered a division of the Khas people with Khas Brahmin (commonly called Khas Bahun). They make up 17% of Nepal, the most populous caste/ ethnic community. Chhetris speak an Indo-Aryan Nepali language (Khas-Kura) as mother tongue. Bahun (बाहुन) or Khas Brahmin is a caste among Khas ethnic Pahari people. Bahun is a local colloquial term for the Nepali-speaking hill Brahmins. They are the second most populous group after Chhetri in Nepal. The Magars are one of the ethnolinguistic groups of Nepal representing 7% of the population. Their ancestral homeland extends from the Western and the Southern edges of the Dhaulagiri range of the Himalayas to the Mahabharat foothills. The Magars established their own kingdoms in ancient Nepal called Bara Magaranth (12 Magar Kingdoms) east of Gandaki River and Athara Magaranth (18 Magar Kingdoms) west of the Gandaki River at a similar time with the khas baise and chaubise kingdoms. They are a Tibeto-Burman people and their language is within that group. They were historically organised in clans and had no caste system. For the Tharu (6%) see under Chitwan.
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Boudhnath from the airplane.
The Tamang तामाङ are the largest Tibeto-Burman ethnic group within Nepal and traditionally Buddhist. Constituting 5.6% of the population, their languages are the fifth most spoken in Nepal (Tamang languages are not mutually intelligible). They were originally from Tibet. Peculiar to Tamang people are complex marriage restrictions within the community. Tamangs are highly respected as Buddhist Monks (rinpoche, khempo). In many Tamang villages there is still a tradition of sending the second son to study Buddhism and preferably to remain in the Monastery as a Buddhist Monk throughout his life. They follow the Nyingma tradition of Vajrayana Buddhism, the earliest form of Buddhism to come to Nepal/Tibet with Padmasambhava. Tamang have gompas (monasteries) in every sizeable village. The Tamangs retain jhankris (shamans) in addition to their Lama clan (Tamang) (priests), the latter whose surnames are also Lama. Tamang was derived from Ta (horse) and Mag (soldier). They live in the mountains north of Kathmandu and often act as mountain guides. Newar (नेवार or Nepami) are the historical inhabitants of Kathmandu Valley and the creators of its historic heritage and civilisation. Newars form a linguistic and cultural community of primarily Indo- Aryan and Tibeto-Burman ethnicities following Hinduism and Buddhism with Newari as their common language. Newars have developed a division of labour and a sophisticated urban civilisation not seen elsewhere in the Himalayan foothills. Newars have continued their age-old traditions and practices and pride themselves as the true custodians of the religion, culture and civilisation of Nepal. Kathmandu Valley and surrounding territories constituted the former Newar kingdom of the Nepal Mandala. Unlike other common-origin ethnic or caste groups of Nepal, the Newars are regarded as an example of a nation community with a relict identity, derived from an ethnically-diverse, previously-existing polity. Newar communities consist of various ethnic, racial, caste and religious heterogeneity, as they are the descendants of the diverse group of people that have lived in Nepal Mandala since prehistoric times. Indo-Aryan tribes like the Licchavis and Mallas from respective Indian Mahajanapada (i.e. Licchavis of Vajji and Malla) that arrived at different periods eventually merged with the local population, adopting their language and customs. These tribes however retained their Vedic culture and brought with them Sanskritic languages, social structure and the Hindu religion, which was assimilated with local cultures and gave rise to the current Newar civilization. Newar rule in Nepal Mandala ended with its conquest by the Gorkha Kingdom in 1768. Sherpa is the major ethnic group native to the mountainous regions of Nepal, Bhutan, and the Himalayas. The term sherpa/sherwa derives from the Sherpa language Shar (east) and Wa (people), referring to their origins in Tibet. Most Sherpa live in the east of Nepal; however, some live farther west in Rolwaling Valley, north of Kathmandu. Tengboche is the oldest Sherpa village in Nepal. The Sherpa language belongs to the south branch of the Tibeto-Burman languages, and is a mix of Eastern Tibet (Khamba) and central Tibetan dialects, although it is separate from Lhasa Tibetan and unintelligible to Lhasa speakers. The 2001 Nepal census recorded 154,622 Sherpas within its borders. Some members of the Sherpa population are known for their skills in mountaineering.
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We finally got back to Kathmandu in time to have a shopping stroll (think several T-shirts) and search for an evening meal. We plumped for a nice
looking restaurant down an alley, the New Orleans Cafe, and it turned out s to be an excellent choice. https://www.neworleanscafektm.com. Steve’s
favourite beer and some great food choices, a sort of hot Gumbo for Steve and a much milder momos (always nice). They had run out of the brownie pudding Steve had set his heart on, so we wandered to the famous Hot Breads Bakery and got some delicious (and probably much better quality) bakery items. Then bed, ready for Tibet tomorrow.

Posted by PetersF 07:35 Archived in Nepal Tagged nepal kathmandu pokhara

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