Nepal – The gateway to the Himalayas
Ja’nani Jan’mabhumis’hchaa Svar’gadapei Gariyo’shi
Sanskrit: “The motherland is worth more than the kingdom of heaven”.
And the motherland Nepal is a country that must cast a spell on every visitor. A land of a thousand mountains, gods and legends. The highest mountains in the world make Nepal a natural wonder of the world and the diverse, largely unchanged culture also gets its money’s worth for travelers who do not want to enrich their vacation with daring trekking tours that go to the limit. In 1952, Nepal opened its gates to foreign visitors, a decade later tourism began hesitantly, which to this day brings numerous tourists to the country every year.
A severe earthquake measuring 7.8 on the Richter scale struck the country on April 26, 2015. The epicenter of the quake was around 80 km northwest of Kathmandu at a depth of 15 km.
The quake destroyed parts of Kathmandu, including the local UNESCO World Heritage Sites. In some smaller towns, almost no house was left standing. A total of around 150,000 houses were destroyed.
The quake killed around 8,600 people and injured numerous people.
On May 29, 2008, the country’s constituent assembly proclaimed the republic and declared the 240-year-old monarchy abolished.
|Name of the country||since May 29, 2008 Republic of Nepal|
|Form of government||Parliamentary republic|
|Geographical location||Between the 26th and 30th latitude northand the 80th and 88th longitude east.|
|National anthem||Rashtriya Gaan|
|Population||29.5 million (Credit: Countryaah: Nepal Population)|
|Ethnicities||Over 100 different ethnic groups are native to Nepal.The numerically largest ethnic groups are the
|Religions||Hinduism (80%),Buddhism (15%),
The remaining 2% consisted of Jains, Christians,
and followers of natural religions and others.
|Languages||Nepali is the official language.|
|Highest mountain||Mount Everest (8,850 m)|
|International license plate||NEP|
|Currency||Nepalese rupee = 100 paisas|
|Time difference to CET||+ 4 h|
|International phone code||+977|
|Internet TLD (Top Level Domain)||.np|
Nepal’s earliest history is interwoven with legends that tell of gods and miraculous events. Truth and myth mix together to form an inexhaustible fund of traditions that contribute significantly to the country’s charm.
Until around the year 1000
According to Abbreviationfinder website, in the early days, the valley in which today’s Kathmandu lies was a large mountain lake. Drained by an earthquake, numerous people immigrated to this area from the surrounding areas and united to form the so-called Newar. The valley was extremely fertile and suitable for agricultural cultivation. This agricultural advantage led to the development of handicraft skills of the population, which became known in the East Asian region (for example the pagoda architectural style). In the 7th century Buddhism began to spread in Nepal, but could never prevail over Hinduism.
From around the 8th century, the kings of the Gopola and Ahir dynasties may have been the first rulers of the Kathmandu Valley. The Gopola dynasty chose a holy place near Thankot as their seat, which is now the Mata Tirtha or the “Mother Shrine”. According to tradition, the dynasty lasted 521 years and was then ousted from what is now eastern Nepal by the Kiranti.
The Kirantie dynasty came to an end around 200 AD when Somabansi kings invaded the country from northern India. They chose the foot of Pulchowki Mountain on the southern edge of the Kathamndu Valley as their residence. These rulers were instrumental in anchoring the Hindu caste system in society. Around 300 the North Indian Licchavi invaded the valley and replaced the Somabansi dynasty. From this point on, historically secured facts can be found.
In the years 464-897 the Licchavi ruled over the Kathmandu Valley. Art, craft and architecture flourished, from which numerous temples and art treasures are still preserved today. Improved trade routes between Tibet and the Kathmandu Valley ensured cultural exchange. After the death of King Jayadeva II, the Licchavi period came to an end and an era of different warring dynasties began.
The so-called Thakuri period (897 – 1182) was founded by King Ragavadeva Lakshmi. Rulers from various Indian princely houses, primarily from the Rajput warrior caste, took over power.
From the year 1000 to the 17th century
After the Thakuri period, the Malla dynasty (until 1768) took control of the country around 1200. More wars and natural disasters ravaged the country in the following centuries, claiming human sacrifices and destroying temples and other shrines. With the coronation of Jayastitis in 1382, the third generation of the Malla dynasty, considered to be the most important, began. The king broke the gangs that had made the valley unsafe since the middle of the century and built an orderly state. The duties of the various castes and their differentiation by clothing and residential area were laid down in a kind of codex.
In 1428 Yakshya Malla became king and expanded the Mallas’ sphere of influence beyond the boundaries of the Kathmandu Valley. He proved to be a generous patron of the arts and religious promoter and in this regard set standards that later rulers should follow. In 1482 Yakshya Malla died and his kingdom was divided among his four children. These ruled from then on separately over Kathmandu, Bhaktapur, Patan and Banepa and formed the first generation of separate dynasties. In the period that followed, these four dynasties were permanently at war with one another. As the rivalry spread to handicrafts, magnificent secular buildings were built.
The empires weakened by the constant conflicts became points of attack by rulers from the hinterland. Dravya Shah conquered the fortress of Gorkha, which would lead to the unification of Nepal two centuries later. Siddhi Narasinha Malla ruled Patan from 1618 to 1658 and proved to be a tireless builder of temples. Also in the Kathmandu Valley, ruled by Pratap Malla (1641 – 1674), numerous architectural monuments were built, which shape the today’s cityscape of Kathmandu. In 1685 the ruling house of Gorkha intervened in the events of the Kathmadu valley and signed a pact with Kathmandu and Bhaktapur against Patan.
Nepal in the 18th and 19th centuries
In 1719 the plague in the Kathmandu Valley claimed over 20,000 victims. In 1734 the last Malla regent ascended the throne in Kathamndu. In 1768, Prithvi Narayan Shah’s troops marched into Kathmandu for the Indrajatra festival. The population is too drunk to fight back. In 1769, Prihvi Narayan attacked Shah Bhaktapur after Patan had already surrendered and became the unrestricted ruler of the entire valley. He made Kathmandu the capital and founded the Shah dynasty, which continues to this day. In 1774 the “father of the nation” Prithvi Narayan Shah died.
In the years 1787 to 1792 the Gorkha armies invaded Sikkim and Tibet in the course of a desired territorial expansion and thus provoked a war with China in which they were defeated. Because of this defeat, Nepal turned to the British East India Company and signed a trade agreement with them. In 1795, Nepalese troops attacked and annexed Kumaon and Garhwal in the western Himalayas. In the years 1814 to 1816 attacks by the Nepalese armies on British territory led to war with the English colonial power. The British won, but were so impressed by the fighting power of the Nepalese that they started recruiting into their army from now on. The legendary Gurkha regiments, which achieved numerous British battle victories, were born.
In 1846, the officer Jung Bahadur Kawar took the ongoing quarrels at the royal court as an opportunity to kill all personalities and political opponents present at a crisis meeting (Kot massacre, translated: fortress massacre). He made the young Crown Prince Surendra Vikram Shah king, but filled all other important positions with family members. The Rana dynasty was to rule Nepal for over a century. After a state visit to England in 1852, Jung Bahadur Rana introduced legislation based on the English model and a European dress code at court. Palace buildings from that time clearly had European features.
On the occasion of the Indian uprising from 1857 to 1858 against the colonial power, Jung Bahadur sent troops to support the English. In return, he received part of the western Terai, with which the country Nepal reached its present-day extent. Jung Bahadur died in 1877, his successor Uddip Rana was able to put down an attempt by the Shahs to take power. In 1885, Uddip Rana was murdered by Bir Shamsher Rana. This rose to be the all-powerful Prime Minister and excluded Jung Bahadur’s branch of the family from power.
20th century until today
From 1914 to 1918 Chandra Shamsher Rana, the most important ruler of the Rana series, sent Gurkhas to fight alongside the British in World War I. In 1923, Great Britain recognized Nepal as an independent state.
In 1934, a huge earthquake leveled most of the structures in the Kathmandu Valley, killing thousands of residents. In World War II, more than 250,000 Gurkhas fought under the British flag or in the Nepalese army. India’s independence in 1947 sparked a desire to end the repressive Rana regime. In the years that followed, the powerless but popular king Tribhuvan sided with his people.
After King Tribhuvan returned from exile in India, the Ranas, under Indian pressure, agreed to a coalition government in which representatives of the royal family, members of the Nepali Congress Party and the Ranas participated. From this point on, Nepal opened up to the outside world.
In 1953, the New Zealander Edmund Hillary and the Sherpa Tensing Norgay were the first to conquer Mount Everest and were therefore the vanguard for numerous mountaineers who followed and still do.
In 1962, King Mahendra, crowned in 1955, introduced the Panchayat system nationwide and banned all political parties. Panchayat, translated “councils of five”, were usually village councils responsible for local matters. Since the king appointed a large part of the members of the Supreme Panchayat himself, he was guaranteed direct access to power. In 1972 King Mahendra died and was succeeded by his son Birendra Bikram Bir Shah.
In a referendum in 1980 around 55% of the electorate voted in favor of maintaining the Panchayat system instead of changing to a democratic form of government. Bloody riots by pro-democracy demonstrators had caused this referendum. In 1981 an election took place for the first time. However, only candidates who committed to the Panchayat system were admitted. Man Singh Shreshta emerged from the elections as head of government. Nevertheless, all power remained with the king, who was exposed to increasing criticism.
Due to Nepalese arms deals with China, the trade and transit agreements were terminated by India. There was a shortage of food and petrol and price increases. Out of this emergency situation, the opposition united and called for a departure from the Panchayat system. There were also massive allegations of corruption and enrichment against the ruling Panchayat members and the royal family. Likewise, the upheavals in Europe, especially in Eastern Europe, did not leave Nepal unaffected. In 1990 a wave of demonstrations and strikes swept across the country. The bloody climax was a massacre of a few hundred demonstrators who wanted to storm the royal palace and were bullets from the soldiers posted.
Under the increasing pressure of the people, King Birendra agreed to a multi-party system and contented himself with the role of a constitutional monarch. He instructed the opposition politician Ganesh Man Singh to form a transitional government. From the first elections in a democratic multi-party system, the Nepali Congress Party emerged victorious in 1991 with 213 parliamentary seats and provided Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala.
The communists received 69 seats nationwide. In May 1993, the leader of the Communist Party and another party member were killed in an accident. Violent demonstrations demanded an exact investigation of the accident, in addition, there was pressure for the resignation of Prime Minister Koiralas, who had to face the accusation of nepotism and was held responsible for the ruinous economic policy. Unrest and protests killed up to 30 people. In the same year, the country was hit by the greatest environmental disaster. Torrential rains triggered floods, numerous villages were washed away, roads and bridges were impassable. According to government information, 2,000 people died in the floods, but unofficial sources put the casualties at around 12,000.
By May 2002, the parliamentary democracy that had been won in 1990/1991 came to an end. Only King Gyanendra, the government he set up and proponents of a direct royal system have spoken of the continued existence of democracy and the constitutional monarchy. The reality is different: for years the elected party politicians had abused the constitution, nepotism and corruption flourished. In many areas of the country, the state has not been present since the Maoist uprising in 1996. Since May 2002 there are no more elected representatives at national level. Local representatives have been deposed across the country since July 2002, and since October 2003 the deployed officials have also been replaced by party officials selected by the government. Executive power and sovereignty had been in the hands of the king since October 2002. Parliament has been dissolved since May 2002. The Raj Parishad royal council has been given powers not provided for in the constitution. The peace process with the Maoists that began in early 2003 collapsed in August 2003.
After the king had seized all power, there were particularly strong public demonstrations for a return to democracy in March/April 2000, with a number of dead and injured. Due to the public demonstrations, which were affecting ever larger parts of the population, the king had to give in: On April 28, 2006, the parliament, which had been dissolved almost 4 years ago, met again for a first new session.
On April 10, 2008, elections to a constituent assembly took place with the participation of the Maoists under their leader and former guerrilla leader Pushpa Kamal Dahal (called Prachandra). The goal was the abolition of the more than 240 years old Hindu monarchy in Nepal. According to international observers, the election was relatively correct and largely non-violent. Of the 601 seats in the constituent assembly, the Maoists won 220 seats, making it the largest grouping.
On May 29, 2008, the assembly abolished the monarchy in Nepal by 560 votes to 4. The resolution of the assembly said that in the future Nepal would be an indivisible, sovereign, secular and all minority democratic republic. May 29 was also declared Republic Day. The palace of the previous king Gyanendra in Kathmandu has been converted into a museum.