King Prithvi Narayan Shah, The Great

King Prithvi Narayan Shah, the Great (श्री ५ वडामहाराजधिराज पृथ्वीनारायण शाह) is the founder of modern Nepal. Before the unification there were more than 50 small kingdoms in present boundary of Nepal. He started the unification process from his small kingdom of Gorkha (less than 5,000 sq km) in 1744 which was carried until 1791 by his daughter-in-law Queen Rajendra Laxmi and his second son Bahadur Shah 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.

Until his death in 1775 King Prithvi had conquered almost half of the present Nepal leading most of battles by himself. Under the leadership of King Prithvi major Kingdoms like 3 kingdoms in Nepal Valley (Kathmandu, Bhadagu & Patan), Sen Kingdoms & Kirat kingdoms of south east  & east (Makwanpur,  Chaudandi, Bijaypur) etc were unified in Nepal

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 dependants, he was regardless of faith to strangers, and of humanity to his enemies, that is, to all who opposed his views."

Early age

King Prithvi was the 10th generation of King Drabya Shah (1559-1570), founder of Shah house in Gorkha.

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.

As a youth

Prithvi had multiple wives and concubines. In 15 years of as 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.

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. 

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 Kahtmandu, in the third attack. In 1767 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 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.


Father KingNara Bhupal Shah (1697–1743)
Mother Queen Kaushalyavati 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

YouTube Video - Divyopadesh by King PN SHAH

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