Unveiling Nepal’s History: A Conversation with Dr. Rajaram Subedi

Junga Bahadur Rana

Dr. Rajaram Subedi is an esteemed professor and living legend of historical studies at Tribhuvan University. His notable work includes the authorship of the book “Nepalko Tathya Itihaas”. He has written several other books such as Karnali Pradesh ko Madhyakalin Itihas, Baisi Rajya ko Itihas, Kunwar Ranaji Haruko Brihat Itihas, Wetland and Culture of Nepal, and so on.

We think that if we’re not history students, we don’t need to know about history. But, history is crucial for shaping our understanding of the world, informing our decision-making processes, and preserving our cultural heritage. It is the foundation upon which we develop our common understanding and shape our future.

The history of Nepal is something that every Nepalese looks back with pride. Although being a landlocked country, the history of Nepal is vibrant. The struggles and hardships endured by the ancestors have conserved what remains of today’s Nepal.

This small country, Nepal has earned several titles including “Land of Gurkhas”, “Land of Braves” and so on. The ancestors of this country have enriched the pages of history with their intense devotion to the country.

Dr. Subedi provides a detailed description covering various aspects of Nepali history including politics and culture in this episode of the podcast.

You may also like this: Breaking Stereotypes: An Inspiring Journey of Bhumika Shrestha

Gopal Dynasty: The First Dynasty to Rule Nepal

The Gopal Dynasty is considered the first dynasty to rule Nepal. the word “Gopal” means cow herders. Eight kings of the Gopal Dynasty ruled Nepal for 521 years.

Dr. Subedi mentions that after Gopal arrived at Devghat from Tribeni, one group of them migrated through the riverside of Kaligandaki, and another group migrated through the riverside of Trishuli. They reached Baad Banjhyang after crossing the Mahesh river. Towards the south of that, they reached one pond. When one of the Gopal tried to wash his face in that pond, he saw the reflection of his dead mother. So, the place was named as “Matatirtha”.

Moving towards the south of Matatirtha, Gopal arrived at Jala Kunda where they saw a literal gold fish, which was then later named “Machhe Narayan”, an avatar of Lord Vishnu. It is known as the oldest temple in Nepal, even older than Pashupatinath temple.

According to Dr. Subedi, before the arrival of the Gopal Dynasty, Kathmandu Valley was a large lake which was known as “Mul Nepal”, and was believed to be drained by Manjushree. But in reality, when Naga along with Danasur were causing havoc in the Kathmandu Valley, Lord Krishna alongside Gopal after arriving there, defeated Danasur and Lord Krishna also cut the gorge of Chovar, making Kathmandu inhabitable again.

Lord Krishna left but Gopal migrated to Kathmandu Valley and settled there. A saint by the name of “Ne muni” took responsibility from the gods to protect Gopals and Nepal. So, Kathmandu was named “Nepal”. But there are various explanations for how the term originated “Nepal” on the basis of different languages.

Gopal Dynasty ruled the areas surrounding Kathmandu Valley i.e. Dudh Koshi in the East, Trishuli in the West, Gosainkunda in the North, and Chitlang in the South.

Dr. Rajaram Subedi’s View On the Contribution of Other Kings in the Unification of Nepal

Throughout Nepal’s history, different kings from various kingdoms have united Nepal as a political region other than King Prithivi Narayan Shah.

King Manadev, the first to unify Nepal, overcame criticism for his youth to expand his reign from the Brahmaputra to the Gandaki. Facing challenges, he subdued dissenting lords with his uncle’s aid, beginning Nepal’s unification by capturing territories east and west.

Amshuverma, considered one of Nepal’s greatest kings, enhanced the prestige of Nepali monarchs globally, fostering legal transparency and decentralization. His strategic marriages of Bhrikuti and Bhoga Devi forged alliances with Tibet and India, respectively, promoting trade and diplomatic relations.

Jitari Malla, known to be the epitome of the Khas Malla Kingdom’s power, influence, and luxury won the battle from Nuwakot to Trishuli and attacked Kathmandu Valley as well. Dr. Subedi mentions that during his reign, there were known to be 1,25,000 hills but there are only around 7000 hills in Nepal.

Jayasthiti Malla, known be the founder of the Malla Dynasty, led Nepal to prosperity after Shamsuddin Ilyas Shah’s devastating invasion, implementing significant legal, administrative, and military reforms, unifying the valley and surrounding regions and laying the foundation for Nepal’s unification.

Mukunda Sen was the king of Palpa from 1518 to 1533 who also invaded Kathmandu valley. He ruled from Kumau to Teesta according to Dr. Subedi.

Please check Itihasaa for detailed information.

Unification of Nepal by King Prithvi Narayan Shah

From being the king of the small kingdom of Gorkha to becoming the first King of a unified Nepal and the founder of the Shah dynasty, Prithvi Narayan Shah (1723-1775), ruled the country of Nepal for many centuries. He is largely credited for establishing the present state of Nepal.

From a young age, Prithivi Narayan Shah demonstrated leadership qualities, as well as a strong interest in politics and military affairs. Being raised in the middle of 18th century Nepal’s political instability, he experienced the country’s division into small kingdoms, which encouraged him to unify Nepal.

Through strategic alliances, military wars, and diplomatic negotiations, Prithivi Narayan Shah progressively unified the smaller kingdoms under his command. He formed alliances with powerful kingdoms such as the Kingdom of Palpa, to strengthen his power and gain support for unification.

During Prithivi Narayan Shah’s early reign, attempts to capture Nuwakot failed, leading to army improvement. His second attack, well-equipped and tactically prepared after obtaining weapons from Banaras, was successful, marking the beginning of unification.

Prithvi Narayan Shah continued his efforts to conquer the Kathmandu Valley but faced resistance from KIrtipur, a crucial entry point. he also lost his commander-in-chief Kalu Pande while he narrowly escaped death. Despite initial losses, he took Kirtipur in 1824 AD and successfully invaded Patan and Lalitpur the following year. The surrender of Bhaktapur’s ruler in 1826 AD signaled the formation of a united Nepal, with Kathmandu as its capital.

According to Dr. Subedi, Prithivi Narayan Shah punished the soldiers of Kirtipur for betraying him by cutting their noses after the end of the war. He believes that for Shah, war was the last resort of wrong but first, he tried psychological strategies.

Prithvi Narayan Shah’s unification of Nepal was accompanied by comprehensive improvements aimed at encouraging stability, development, and cultural preservation. He centralized government, increased trade, promoted social harmony, and preserved cultural heritage.

For more information, please visit this: King Prithivi Narayan Shah’s Biography

Rise and Fall of Rana Regime

After the fall of Bhimsen Thapa in 1837, a political vacuum in Nepal started. It was then Regime of Jung Bahadur started in Nepal. Jung Bahadur Rana, a son of Bal Narsingh’s son became an important figure in Nepalese politics during his uncle Mathabar Singh Thapa’s tenure as prime minister.

Jung Bahadur assassinated Mathabar Singh on royal instructions on May 17, 1845, establishing his image as ruthless and merciless. Following the assassination, he was appointed as Kaji (minister). Later, in September 1846, during a court assembly summoned by Queen Rajya Lakshmi Devi to investigate General Kaji Gagan Singh’s murder, Jung Bahadur orchestrated a massacre in Kot (known as Kot Parva), killing numerous rival nobles and courtiers. He also orchestrated Bhandarkhal Parva’s massacring of many people.

After Jung Bahadur, Randeep Singh became the prime minister of Nepal who was killed by Bir Shamsher Rana along with his brothers, bringing in the rule of the Shamsher family. After him, Dev Shamsher became prime minister for a few months. After him, came Chandra Shamsher Rana who is the younger brother of Bir Shamsher Rana.

Chandra Shumsher, who served as Rana Prime Minister from 1901 until 1929, implemented significant changes in Nepal. He abolished slavery and the Sati system, negotiated a treaty with Britain to recognize Nepal’s independence, and implemented administrative changes including the establishment of new administrative offices and courts. He promoted education by establishing multiple schools, cementing his reputation as one of Nepal’s finest Rana Prime Ministers.

However, the period of Rana’s rule in Nepal is considered as the dark age because it was characterized by a lack of democracy, repression of political freedoms, and the concentration of power within a small ruling elite. During this period, the Rana rulers held absolute control and suppressed all forms of dissent, resulting in a lack of progress and development in the country. Political instability, economic stagnation, and social inequality were all prevalent during this time period.

Journey of King Mahendra

Mahendra Bir Bikram Shah Dev was King of Nepal from 1955 until his tragic death in 1972. He modernized Nepal in a comprehensive manner, implementing industrial, political, and economic improvements.

During the rule of King Mahendra, the First Five-Year Plan of Nepal was successfully implemented. Nepal Rastra Bank and the Supreme Court were also established in Nepal. He also issued the Constitution of the Kingdom of Nepal and the Constitution of Nepal, which established the Bicameral Parliamentary System and the Partyless Panchayat System, respectively.

King Mahendra, during his reign, promoted economic independence through industrialization, agricultural modernization, and tourism development, while also focusing on healthcare and infrastructure initiatives.

In this podcast, Dr Subedi also talks about how all these events are connected with modern times and about different conspiracy theories in Nepali politics. He believes that the word “history” basically means truth tale. Understanding history is very crucial in order to understand the experiences of our ancestors, and also to understand who we are, where we came from, and where we are going.

To learn more, please watch this podcast: True History behind Nepal’s Unification and Rana Regime | POD8


Dr. Rajaram Subedi, a well-known history professor from Tribhuvan University and author discusses several topics of Nepal’s history in this podcast’s episode. Beginning with the Gopal Dynasty, he describes the migrations and settlements that shaped early Nepal. Subedi recognizes the contribution of monarchs like Amshuverma and Jayasthiti Malla, emphasizing their significance in Nepal’s unity and governance. He discusses the reign of Prithvi Narayan Shah, describing his military campaigns and administrative reforms that led to Nepal’s unification. He discusses the rise and fall of the Rana regime which was marked by political instability and autocratic government. He also talks about King Mahendra’s progress in modernization efforts, which included economic, political, and infrastructure development, emphasizing the importance of history in comprehending Nepal’s past, present, and future.

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