Nepal History : Unification Campaign of King Prithvi Narayan Shah

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[Nepal History] Get here some information, facts about Nepal history related to Prithvi Narayan Shah and His unification campaign in the history of Nepal. We have posted here short biography of King Prithivi Narayan Shah and unification of Nepal.

Unification Campaign of King Prithvi Narayan Shah on History of Nepal

King Prithvi Narayan Shah was born as the eldest son of King Narabhupal Shah and his second wife Queen Kaushotyawati in the Shah dynasty of Gorkha on 11 January 1723 (27 Poush 1779 B.S.). He grew up under the love, care and supervision of the eldest Queen Chandrapravawati. She taught him the Ramayan, Mahabharat, diplomacy, and politics. He was clever and courageous from his early childhood. He got horse-riding, archery, sword-fighting training when he was a young boy.

He became the king of Gorkha in 1799 at the age of 20. Prithivinarayan Shah became the king of Gorkha at the age of 20 in 1799 BS. He was a brave, courageous, ambitious and far-sighted King. He was given proper training and education by his elder mother, Chandraprabhawati. He had known from his early childhood that a nation would be weak if its king and his subjects indulged in pleasure and luxury. His teachers Bhanu Aryal and Maheshwar Patna had made him trained in the art of horse riding, archery and sword fighting. He was interested in politics and diplomacy and had interests in and conquering other countries since his days as a prince.


When Prithvi Narayan Shah became the King, the political environment in the region was not very favorable. The smaller principalities were fighting against one another and the British Empire was expanding. In such a situation, he wanted to expand Gorkha and at the same time foil the evil design of the British by uniting the small kingdoms into a viable nation. With this in mind, as soon as he ascended the throne, he sat his foot to the task of expanding the Gorkha Rajya, which led to the unification of Nepal. Had he not done this, the divided principalities would have fallen to the British rule.

King Prithvi Narayan Shah

Prithvi Narayan Shah is known as the founder of modern Nepal. He marked the beginning of the modern period in the history of Nepal. Before him, there were many small principalities in what we have today, modern Nepal.

He laid the foundation of the unification of modern Nepal by conquering the Malla rulers of the Kathmandu Valley: Kantipur, Lalitpur, and Bhaktapur. He defeated major principalities and unified them under his rule .He moved the capital of his Gorkha Kingdom to Kathmandu in 1769. He was able to conquer most of the states in modern day east Nepal and some of the principalities or kingdoms of Baise Rajya, and some of the 24 kingdoms (the Chaubasi Rajya), which were two sets of allies west of the King’s homeland of Gorkha, in what is now called western Nepal.


In the later years, his able son, Bahadur Shah, daughter-in-law, Rajendra Laxmi and Gribanyuddha Bikram Shah completed his unification campaign. The unification campaign was completed in three phases.

Nepal History: Unification Campaign of King Prithvi Narayan Shah

Phase 1: Prithivi Narayan Shah conquered, Nuwakot, Makawanpur, the Kathmandu Valley and most of the states of Eastern Nepal.

Phase2: Rajendra Laxmi Shah and Bahadur Shah conquered and annexed most of the smaller Chaubisi and Baisi states of Gandaki and Karnali regions.

Phase3: During the reign of Girbanyuddha Bikram Shah, Bhimsen Thapa annexed the state of Palpa into Nepal.

Unification Campaign Started of Prithvi Narayan in the History of Nepal

Prithvi Narayan’s father Narabhupal Shah was also a brave and wise king. He wanted to expand the territory of Gorkha. He invaded Nuwakot but was badly defeated. Prithivi Narayan Shah was an ambitious person. He wanted to expand Gorkha and foil the evil designs of the British by uniting small kingdoms into a viable nation. Hence, as soon as he became the king, he attacked Nuwakot in order to continue the task started by his father. But he too was defeated as he had not made proper preparations. At that time, Nuwakot was under Kantipur. The Gorkhali troops weren’t much familiar with the geography of Nuwakot. They also lacked sufficient arms and ammunition.

History of Nepal : First Unsuccessful Invasion and Conquest of Nuwakot

Nuwakot, which was the main trade route to Tibet, and granary of food, was under Kantipur. Prithivinarayan Shah tried to capture Nuwakot first time in 1800 BS. At that time, Jayanta Rana was the Umarao (Governor) there. He was the Commander of the Gorkhali Army when Prithvi Narayan’s father, Narabhupal Shah attacked Nuwakot. When the attack failed, he was made responsible for it. So he defected and joined Jayaprakash Malla, King of Kantipur. Then Jayaprakash Malla had made him the Chief or Umrao of Nuwakot.

In this first invasion, Kaji Biraj Thapa Magar was the commander of Gorkhali troops. After encamping near Khinchet, when he was waiting for an opportune moment to cross the overflowing Trisuli River, Prithivinarayan Shah sent yet another troops under the command of Maheswar Panta and Bali Pandey to attack Nuwakot. The Gorkhali troops were defeated. This opened the eyes of Prthivinarayan Shah. He realized that they lacked proper preparation, planning, unity of command, geographical knowledge, intelligence and arms and ammunition.

Prithivi Narayan Shah was not discouraged from his defeat of Nuwakot. He rather realized that there was a need to improve the overall capability of his military. He started preparation for the second invasion of Nuwakot. He traveled to Banaras and collected arms and ammunition with the help of his father-in-law, Abhiman Singh. He also got some Muslim experts to make guns and to give military training to his soldiers. It was also important for him to make sure that Gorkha itself wasn’t attacked by other neighboring Chaubise states: Lamjung, Tanahu, Kaski and Parbat etc. while it was invading Nuwakot. In fact, Lamjung was an age-old enemy of Gorkha.

So, he sent Kalu Pandey to Lamjung and other emissaries to other states to establish friendly relations. He brought King Ranjit Malta of Bhaktapur also in his favor. Almost a year later, on 2 October 1744, after completing all necessary military and diplomatic preparations, Gorkha under the leadership of Prithvi Narayan Shah himself invaded Nuwakot from three directions: Kalu Pandey through Gerkhu, Kirti Mahoddam Shah from Dharampani and Prithivi Narayan Shah from the front, Ashokbari in 1801 BS. Nuwakot finally fell into Prithvi Narayan’s hands.

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