Nepal || A beautiful Landlocked country
Nepal officially the Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal is a country in South Asia. It is located mainly in the Himalayas, but also includes parts of the Indo-Gangetic Plain. It is the 49th largest country by population and 93rd largest country by area. It is landlocked and borders China in the north and India in the south, east and west, while Bangladesh is located within only 27 km (17 mi) of its southeastern tip and Bhutan is separated from it by the Indian state of Sikkim.
Nepal has a diverse geography, including fertile plains, subalpine forested hills, and eight of the world’s ten tallest mountains, including Mount Everest, the highest point on Earth. Kathmandu is the capital and the largest city. Nepal is a multiethnic country with Nepali as the official language.
The name “Nepal” is first recorded in texts from the Vedic period of the Indian subcontinent, the era in ancient India when Hinduism was founded, the predominant religion of the country. In the middle of the first millennium BCE, Gautama Buddha, the founder of Buddhism, was born in Lumbini in southern Nepal. Parts of northern Nepal were intertwined with the culture of Tibet.
The centrally located Kathmandu Valley is intertwined with the culture of Indo-Aryans and was the seat of the prosperous Newar confederacy known as Nepal Mandala. The Himalayan branch of the ancient Silk Road was dominated by the valley’s traders. The cosmopolitan region developed distinct traditional art and architecture. By the 18th century, the Gorkha Kingdom achieved the unification of this country. The Shah dynasty established the Kingdom of Nepal and later formed an alliance with the British Empire, under its Rana dynasty of premiers.
The country was never colonized but served as a buffer state between Imperial China and British India. Parliamentary democracy was introduced in 1951 but was twice suspended by Nepalese monarchs, in 1960 and 2005. The Nepalese Civil War in the 1990s and early 2000s resulted in the establishment of a secular republic in 2008, ending the world’s last Hindu monarchy.
The Constitution of Nepal, adopted in 2015, affirms Nepal as a secular federal parliamentary republic divided into seven provinces. Nepal was admitted to the United Nations in 1955, and friendship treaties were signed with India in 1950 and the People’s Republic of China in 1960. Nepal hosts the permanent secretariat of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), of which it is a founding member.
This country is also a member of the Non-Aligned Movement and the Bay of Bengal Initiative. The military of this country is the fifth largest in South Asia; it is notable for its Gurkha history, particularly during the world wars, and has been a significant contributor to United Nations peacekeeping operations.
Before the unification of this country, the Kathmandu valley was known as this country. The precise origin of the term this country is uncertain. This country appears in ancient Indian literary texts dated as far back as the fourth century BC. However, an absolute chronology can not be established, as even the oldest texts may contain anonymous contributions dating as late as the early modern period. Academic attempts to provide a plausible theory are hindered by the lack of a complete picture of history and insufficient understanding of linguistics or relevant Indo-European and Tibeto-Burman languages.
According to Hindu mythology, this country derives its name from an ancient Hindu sage called Ne, referred to variously as Ne Muni or Nemi. According to Pashupati Purana, as a place protected by Ne, the country in the heart of the Himalayas came to be known as Nepal. According to Nepal Mahatmya, Nemi was charged with the protection of the country by Pashupati. According to Buddhist mythology, Manjushri Bodhisattva drained a primordial lake of serpents to create the Nepal valley and proclaimed that Adi-Buddha Ne would take care of the community that would settle it.
As the cherished of Ne, the valley would be called this country. According to Gopalarajvamshavali, the genealogy of ancient Gopala dynasty compiled circa the 1380s, Nepal is named after Nepa the cowherd, the founder of the Nepali scion of the Abhiras. In this account, the cow that issued milk to the spot, at which Nepa discovered the Jyotirlinga of Pashupatinath upon investigation, was also named Ne.
Norwegian Indologist Christian Lassen had proposed that Nepala was a compound of Nipa (foot of a mountain) and -ala (short suffix for Alaya meaning abode), and so Nepala meant “abode at the foot of the mountain”. He considered Ne Muni to be a fabrication. Indologist Sylvain Levi found Lassen’s theory untenable but had no theories of his own, only suggesting that either Newara is a vulgarism of Sanskritic Nepala, or Nepala is Sanskritisation of the local ethnic his view has found some support though it does not answer the question of etymology.
It has also been proposed that Nepa is a Tibeto-Burman stem consisting of Ne (cattle) and Pa (keeper), reflecting the fact that early inhabitants of the valley were Gopalas (cowherds) and Mahispalas (buffalo-herds). Suniti Kumar Chatterji thought Nepal originated from Tibeto-Burman roots- Ne, of uncertain meaning (as multiple possibilities exist), and pala or bal, whose meaning is lost entirely.
By 55,000 years ago, the first modern humans, or Homo sapiens, had arrived on the Indian subcontinent from Africa, where they had earlier evolved. The earliest known modern human remains in South Asia date to about 30,000 years ago. The oldest discovered archaeological evidence of human settlements in Nepal dates to around the same time.
After 6500 BCE, evidence for the domestication of food crops and animals, construction of permanent structures, and storage of agricultural surplus appeared in Mehrgarh and other sites in what is now Balochistan. These gradually developed into the Indus Valley Civilisation, the first urban culture in South Asia. Prehistoric sites of palaeolithic, mesolithic and neolithic origins have been discovered in the Siwalik hills of Dang district.
The earliest inhabitants of modern this country and adjoining areas are believed to be people from the Indus Valley Civilisation. It is possible that the Dravidian people whose history predates the onset of the bronze age in the Indian subcontinent (around 6300 BCE) inhabited the area before the arrival of other ethnic groups like the Tibeto-Burmans and Indo-Aryans from across the border.
By 4000 BCE, the Tibeto-Burmese people had reached this country either directly across the Himalayas from Tibet or via Myanmar and north-east India or both. Another possibility for the first people to have inhabited Nepal is the Kusunda people. According to Hogdson (1847), the earliest inhabitants of this country were perhaps the Kusunda people, probably of proto-Australoid origin. Stella Kramrisch ( 1964 ) mentions a substratum of a race of Pre – Dravidians and Dravidians, who were in Nepal even before the Newars, who formed the majority of the ancient inhabitants of the valley of Kathmandu.
By the late Vedic period, this country was being mentioned in various Hindu texts, such as the late Vedic Atharvaveda Pariśiṣṭa and in the post-Vedic Atharvashirsha Upanishad. The Gopal Bansa was the oldest dynasty to be mentioned in various texts as the earliest rulers of the central Himalayan kingdom known by the name ‘Nepal’. The Gopalas were followed by Kiratas who ruled for over 16 centuries by some accounts. According to the Mahabharata, the then Kirata king went to take part in the Battle of Kurukshetra. In the south-eastern region, Janakpurdham was the capital of the prosperous kingdom of Videha or Mithila, that extended down to the Ganges, and home to King Janaka and his daughter, Sita.
Changu Narayan Temple is one of the oldest temples in this country. This two-storied pagoda rebuilt c. 1700 CE, showcases exquisite woodcraft in every piece of its timber, probably the finest in Nepal.
In the premises of the Changu Narayan Temple, is a stone inscription dated 464 CE, the first in this country since the Ashoka inscription of Lumbini (c. 250 BCE).
Around 600 BCE, small kingdoms and confederations of clans arose in the southern regions of this country. From one of these, the Shakya polity, arose a prince who later renounced his status to lead an ascetic life, founded Buddhism and came to be known as Gautama Buddha (traditionally dated 563–483 BCE). This country came to be established as the land of spirituality and refuge in the intervening centuries, played an important role in transmitting Buddhism to East Asia via Tibet, and helped preserve Hindu and Buddhist manuscripts.
By 250 BCE, the southern regions had come under the influence of the Maurya Empire. Emperor Ashoka made a pilgrimage to Lumbini and erected a pillar at Buddha’s birthplace, the inscriptions on which mark the starting point for properly recorded history of Nepal. Ashoka also visited the Kathmandu valley and built monuments commemorating Gautam Buddha’s visit there. By the 4th century CE, much of this country was under the influence of the Gupta Empire.
In the Kathmandu valley, the Kiratas were pushed eastward by the Lichchhavis, and the Lichchhavi dynasty came into power c. 400 CE. The Lichchhavis built monuments and left a series of inscriptions; Nepal’s history of the period is pieced together almost entirely from them.
In 641, Songtsen Gampo of the Tibetan Empire sends Narendradeva back to Licchavi with an army and subjugates Nepal. Parts of Nepal and Licchavi was later under the direct influences of the Tibetan empire.
The Licchavi dynasty went into decline in the late 8th century and was followed by a Thakuri rule. Thakuri kings ruled over the country up to the middle of the 11th century CE; not much is known of this period that is often called the dark period.
In the 11th century, a powerful empire of Khas people emerged in the western part of this country whose territory at its highest peak included much of western Nepal as well as parts of western Tibet and Uttarakhand of India. By the 14th century, the empire had splintered into loosely associated Baise Rajya, literally 22 states as they were counted. The rich culture and language of the Khas people spread throughout this country and as far as Indo-China in the intervening centuries; their language, later renamed the Nepali language, became the lingua franca of Nepal as well as much of North-east India.
In the south-eastern part of this country, Simraungarh annexed Mithila around 1100 CE, and the unified Tirhut stood as a powerful kingdom for more than 200 years, even ruling over Kathmandu for a time. After another 300 years of Muslim rule, Tirhut came under the control of the Sens of Makawanpur. In the eastern hills, a confederation of Kirat principalities ruled the area between Kathmandu and Bengal.
Patan Durbar Square has many buildings, mostly temples, built in the Pagoda style, and a couple of temples of Shikhara architecture showcasing the pinnacle of Nepali wood-, stone- and metal-craft.
Patan Durbar Square, one of the three palace squares in the Kathmandu Valley, was built by the Mallas in the 17th century. The Durbar Squares are a culmination of over a millennium of development in Nepali art and architecture.
In the Kathmandu valley, the Mallas, who make several appearances in Nepalese history since ancient times, had established themselves in Kathmandu and Patan by the middle of the 14th century. The Mallas ruled the valley first under the suzerainty of Tirhut but established independent reign by late 14th century as Tirhut went into decline. In the late 14th century, Jayasthiti Malla introduced widespread socio-economic reforms, the principal of which was the caste system.
By dividing the indigenous non-Aryan Buddhist population into castes modelled after the four Varna system of Hinduism, he provided an influential model for the Sanskritisation and Hinduisation of the indigenous non-Hindu tribal populations in all principalities throughout Nepal. By the middle of the 15th century, Kathmandu had become a powerful empire which, according to Kirkpatrick, extended from Digarchi or Shigatse in Tibet to Tirhut and Gaya in India.
In the late 15th century, Malla princes divided their kingdom in four — Kathmandu, Patan and Bhaktapur in the valley and Banepa to the east. The competition for prestige among these brotherly kingdoms saw the flourishing of art and architecture in central Nepal, and the building of famous Kathmandu, Patan and Bhaktapur Durbar Squares; their division and mistrust led to their fall in the late 18th century, and ultimately, the unification of Nepal into a modern state.
Apart from one destructive sacking of Kathmandu in the early 13th century, Nepal remains largely untouched by the Muslim invasion of India that began in the 11th century. However, the Mughal period saw an influx of high-caste Hindus from India into this country. They soon intermingled with the Khas people and by the 16th century, there were about 50 Rajput-ruled principalities in Nepal, including the 22 baisi states and, to their east in west-central Nepal, 24 Chaubisi states.
There emerged a view that Nepal remained the true bastion of unadulterated Hinduism at a time when Indian culture had been influenced by centuries of Mughal, followed by British rule. Gorkha, one of the Baisi states, emerged as an influential and ambitious kingdom with a reputation for justice, after it codified the first Hinduism-based laws in the Nepalese hills.
The Gorkha control reached its height when the North Indian territories of the Kumaon and Garhwal Kingdoms in the west to Sikkim in the east came under Nepalese control. A dispute with Tibet over the control of mountain passes and inner Tingri valleys of Tibet forced the Qing Emperor of China to start the Sino-Nepali War compelling the Nepali to retreat to their own borders in the north.
The rivalry between the Kingdom of Nepal and the East India Company over the control of states bordering Nepal eventually led to the Anglo-Nepali War (1815–16). At first, the British underestimated the Nepali and were soundly defeated until committing more military resources than they had anticipated needing. Thus began the reputation of Gurkhas as fierce and ruthless soldiers. The war ended in the Sugauli Treaty, under which Nepal ceded recently captured lands.
Factionalism inside the royal family led to a period of instability. In 1846, a plot was discovered revealing that the reigning queen had planned to overthrow Jung Bahadur Kunwar, a fast-rising military leader. This led to the Kot massacre; armed clashes between military personnel and administrators loyal to the queen led to the execution of several hundred princes and chieftains around the country.
Bir Narsingh Kunwar emerged victoriously and founded the Rana dynasty, and came to be known as Jung Bahadur Rana. The king was made a titular figure, and the post of Prime Minister was made powerful and hereditary. The Ranas were staunchly pro-British and assisted them during the Indian Rebellion of 1857 (and later in both World Wars). Some parts of the Terai region were gifted to Nepal by the British as a friendly gesture because of her military help to sustain British control in India during the rebellion. In 1923, the United Kingdom and Nepal formally signed an agreement of friendship that superseded the Sugauli Treaty of 1816.
The Hindu practice of Sati, in which a widow sacrificed herself in the funeral pyre of her husband, was banned in 1919, and slavery was officially abolished in 1924. Rana rule was marked by tyranny, debauchery, economic exploitation and religious persecution.
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