King Prithvi Narayan Shah

King Prithvi Narayan Shah, the Great (श्री ५ वडामहाराजधिराज पृथ्वीनारायण शाह) is the founder of modern Nepal. Before the unification there were about 52 small kingdoms in present day boundary of Nepal. He started the unification process from his small kingdom of Gorkha in 1744 AD which he carried until his death at 1775 AD; by then he had conquered almost half of present Nepal leading most of battles by himself. He spent most of the time of his 32 years of rule in the battlefield.

Under his leadership major Kingdoms like 3 kingdoms in Nepal Valley (Kathmandu, Bhadagu & Patan), Sen Kingdoms like (Tanahun, Makwanpur,  Chaudandi, Bijaypur) etc were unified into Nepal. That includes all of present day State no 1,2,3 and parts of State no 4 (Gandaki).

Unification process continued after his death by his daughter-in-law Queen Rajendra Laxmi, his second son Bahadur Shah and Mukhtiyar Bhimsen Thapa until 1806 AD which extended Nepal all the way from Teesta River in east to Kangara in the west covering more than 250,000 sq km area in the rough Himalayan terrain.

According to Fancis Buchanan Hamilton "Prithwi Narayan (Purthi Nerayn in Kirkpatrick) was a person of insatiable ambition, sound judgment, great courage, and unceasing activity.  Kind and liberal, especially in promises to his friends and dependents, he was regardless of faith to strangers, and of humanity to his enemies, that is, to all who opposed his views."


King Prithvi Narayan Shah was the 10th King of small Gorkha Kingdom (1743-1768) and 1st King of united Nepal (1768-1775).

Generation of Gorkha Kings & key relatives

1st: King Dravya Shah (1559 AD - 1570 AD)
2nd: King Purna Shah (1570 AD - 1605 AD) (Sons: Chhatra & Ram)
3rd: King Chhatra Shah (1605 AD - 1606 AD) & King Ram Shah (1609 AD - 1633 AD)
4th: King Dambar Shah (1633 AD - 1645 AD)(son of Ram)
5th: King Krishna Shah (1645 AD - 1661 AD)
6th: King Rudra Shah (1661 AD - 1673 AD)
7th: King Prithvipati Shah (1673 AD - 1716 AD) (son: Birbhadra)
8th: Prince Birbhadra (son: Nara Bhupal)
9th: Nara Bhupal Shah (1716 AD - 1743 AD)
10th: Prithvi Narayan Shah (1743 AD - 1768 AD)

Ancestors of King Prithvi Narayan before Drabya Shah

(5) Jait Khan (Jayan)
(4) Surya Khan (Suriya)
(3) Micha Khan (sons : Bhakti, Vichitra), Khachha Khan
(2) King Kulmandan Khan/ Khand (कुलमण्डन खाँ/खाँड) (Vichitra, Jagati) (the first King of Kaski)
(1) Yasobramha Shah, youngest son of Kulmandan, became King of Lamjung. He had 3 sons:-
(0) King Narahari Shah (Lamjung), King Drabya Shah (Gorkha) & Prince Narapati Sah.

Early age

His father King Narbhupal Shah had 4 queens:- Chandra Prabhawati (Khanchi), Kausalyawati (Palpa), Subhadrawati (Tanahun), Buddimati (Parwat) respectively. 

Prithvi was born in 11th Jan, 1723 as the second son of King Narabhupal. Queen Kausalyawati gave birth to him prematurely after 7 months of pregnancy. But Prithvi was raised and educated by Queen Chandra Prabhawati.

When he was prince, in 1732 at the age of 10, he made miteri (friendship) relationship with son of King Ranjit Malla of Bhaktapur and spend about 1 year in Bhaktapur as a royal guest to understand the situation of the country. 

Prithvi had multiple wives and concubines. At the age of 15 in 1738 he married Indra Kumari Devi (1726-1759), daughter of King Hemkarna Sen of Makwanpur. In Feb 1740 he married Narendra Rajya Laxmi Devi, daughter of Abhiman Singh (a Varanasi brahmin) in Gorakhpur. His successor King Pratap Singh Shah and Prince Bahadur Shah was born from Narendra Rajya Laxmi. His notable morganatic wives were Icchavati Devi and Dayavati Devi. From Icchvati Prithvi has 1 son and 4 daughters. When Prithvi died in 11th Jan 1775 his second wife and 8 concubines went Sati.

Before 1943, As he said in Dibyopadesh, one day he was returning from Makwanpur to Gorkha taking his wife back home through Nepal valley (Kathmandu valley as known at that time). When he saw the Nepal valley form the height of Chandragiri Hill he really liked the place and wish to be the king of all three cities in the valley.

as a King

Gorkha King Narabhupal Shah had attacked Nuwakot, a frontier town of Kathmandu Kingdom in 1733, but failed to conquer it. He got sick after that and died in 1743.

Prithvi ascended to the throne of Gorkha at the age of 20 in 3rd Apr 1743.

Unification of Nepal (summery) (see detail)

As soon as he became the King he resumed the unification process his father started. He made two attacks in Nuwakot in 1944 and conquered it. Then conquered Tanahun kingdom, south west of Gorkha. In 1756 he captured Kuti pass which disconnected Nepal valley's trade with Tibet.  1761 attacked Makwanpur and imprisoned his brother in law King Digbandan Sen. In 1763 he defeated of the Muslim forces of Mir Kasim, King of Bengal who had came to help by the request of King Digbandhan Sen. He made unsuccessful attacks on Kirtipur, frontier town of Kathmandu two times in 1757 and 1764.

After completely sounded Kathmandu from North, West and South, In 1766 Mar 17 he defeated Kirtipur, the western frontier of Kathmandu, in the third attack. In 1767 he defeated British forces on the command of Captain Kinloch who had come to help Kathmandu. In 1768 Sep 26, he Attacked and conquered Kathmandu proper. In 1768 Oct 6, Attacked and conquered Patan (Lalitpur) and 1769 Nov 12, Attacked and conquered Bhaktapur. Chaudandi and Vijaypur/Morang were conquered in 1773, 1774 respectively extending up to eastern border of present Nepal. 

The great King died in 1775 Jan 11 at the age of 52.

Insiders of King PN Shah Rule

Dal Mardan Shah, his brother, commander, served as the temporary king of Patan (1765-65)
Biraj Thapa Magar, commander of 1743 Nuwakot attack
Maheshwar Panta, commander of 2nd Nuwakot attack, trainer of King PN Shah
Kaji Kalu Pande (1713-1757), commander, Killed in 1st battle of Kirtipur in 1757
Chautariya Shree Krishna Shah, commander
Birabhadra Thapa, Bharadar (Courtier)  (g.f/o Bhimsen Thapa)
Shivaram Singh Basnyat, commander (died 1747) (f/o Mulkaji Abhiman SB)
Chautariya Daljit Shah, commander
Kazi Harka (Harsh) Pantha, commander


Father KingNara Bhupal Shah (1697–1743)
Mother Queen Kaushalyavati Devi (daughter of Palpa King Gandharbh Sen)
Step-mothers: Chandra Prabhawati (Khanchi), Subhadrawati (Tanahun), Buddimati (Parwat)

Indra Kumari Devi (daughter of Makwanpur King Hemkarna Sen)
Narendra Rajya Lakshmi Devi (daughter of Abhiman Singh, a Brahmin from Varanasi, India) (mother of King Pratap Singh & Bahadur Sah)
Icchavati Devi
Dayavati Devi

Son King Pratap Singh (1751)
Son Vedum Shah
Son  Bahadur Shah
Son Narayan Shah
Son Vishnu Shah

Brother Kirtimadan
Brother Dalmardan
Brother Daljit
Brother Surpratap


7-story Nuwakot durbar in 1762
Tilanga House of Nuwakot


Though a lot of people praise the King Prithvi for his courage and action to unify Nepal, there are some people who criticize him as well. Most of his critics point out his cruelty during his campaigns and argue that he expanded his Gorkha kingdom but did not "unify" the country in the real sense.

The fact is that, in 32 years of rule, he had to spend most of his time in planning and fighting the battles, and administrating the transitions. Until his death in 1775, the unification was only half way through. He did not have any time to emotionally serve the new country. And unfortunately his successors did not really cared about that.

Historian/People having Negative view about the Great King

सिल्भाँ लेभी
पुरुषोत्तमलोचन श्रेष्ठ

Online references
Book references
  1. Giuseppe, Father (1799). Account of the Kingdom of Nepal. London: Vernor and Hood. p. 308
  2. An Account of The Kingdom of Nepal by Fancis Buchanan Hamilton
  3. Dibya upadesh in english by L.F. Stiller, S.J. pdf