1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Nepal

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NEPAL, Nepaul or Nipal, an independent state, situated on the north-eastern frontier of India, lying between 80° 15′ and 88° 10′ E., and 26° 20′ and 30° 10′ N.; area, 54,000 sq. m., Its extreme length is about 525 m., and its breadth varies from 90 to 140 m. It is bounded on the N. by Tibet; on the E. by Sikkim; on the S. by Bengal and the United Provinces; and on the W. by Kumaon, from which it is separated by the Kali river. Its population is estimated by the natives at about 5,200,000, the common phrase used by the rulers in speaking of popular opinion being, “but what will the Bāwan (i.e. fifty-two) Lākh say to this.”

Nepal consists physically of two distinct territories: (1) the tarai, or strip of level, cultivated and forest land lying along the southern border; and (2) the great mountainous tract stretching northwards to Tibet. Along the northern frontier stand many of the highest peaks of the Himalayan range, such as Dhaulagiri (26,837 ft.), Mutsiputra, Gaurishankar and Yasa (24,000), Gosaīn Than (26,315) Mount Everest (29,002 according to the survey value), Kinchinjunga (28,146), and numerous peaks varying from 20,000 to 24,000 ft. In clear weather this magnificent snowy range may be seen in an almost continuous line from the top of some of the lower ranges near Katmandu. South of these are numerous parallel lower ranges, varying from 16,000 to 6000 ft. in height, which are broken up at intervals by cross ranges, thus forming a series of glens with a few hill-girt valleys interspersed.

These mountain ranges determine the course of the rivers, which are divided by the cross ranges into four groups. The first of these extends from Kumaon eastward as far as Dhaulagiri, and consists of the affluents of the Kali (Sarda), Sarju, Kurnali, Eastern Sarju, and Rapti, all of which ultimately form the Gogra or Gogari, and flow into the Ganges. The second group, known to the Nepalese as the Sapt Gandaki, rises from the peaks between Dhaulagiri and Gosaīn Than, and unite at Trebeni Ghat to form the Gandak. The third is a group of smaller rivers draining the great valley of Nepal, the valleys of Chitlong, Benepa, and Panouti, and portions of the tarai around the Churiaghati range of hills. These are the various branches of the Bara Gandak, the lesser Rapti, the Bagmati and Kumla. East of this again is the fourth group, known to the Nepalese as the Sapt Kosi, rising from the peaks between Gosaīn Than and Kinchinjunga, and uniting to form the Soon Kosi, which falls into the Ganges.

There is thus a natural division of the country into four portions. The most western is the country of the Baisi (or twenty-two) rajas, and contains the towns of Jumla, Doti and Sulliana. The second is the country of the Chaubisi (or twenty-four) rajas, and contains the towns of Malebum, Palpa, Gurkha and Noakote. The third is the district containing Nepal proper, with the capital and many large towns to be mentioned afterwards. The fourth is the eastern portion of Nepal, comprising the country of the Kiratis, and many small towns, such as Dhankota, Ilam and Bijapur.

Route into Nepal—The portion of Nepal, exclusive of the tarai, which is open to Europeans is the “valley of Nepal,” containing the capital, of the country, and a few adjacent smaller valleys. There is only one means of access open to Europeans, and this indeed is in general resorted to by the natives, as the other routes to the capital are longer and far more difficult. The road runs nearly north from Segauli, passing through the tarai and sal forests, to Bhichhkhori; then through the beds of mountain streams, through a pass in the Churiyaghati range, and through another sal forest, to Hetoura; thence by a wide and good road to Bhimphedi at the foot of the Sisaghari range of hills. So far the route is practicable for carts and baggage animals, but from this point the road is a mere rugged footpath over the Sisaghari Pass, through the Chitlong valley and over the Chandragiri range. The distance from Segauli to Katmandu is 90 m.

The valley in extreme length from east to west is about 26 m., and in breadth from north to south about 15. The surrounding hills vary in height from 6000 to 9720 ft., the level of the valley itself being about 4500 ft. above the sea. Tradition has it that Nepal was once a lake, and appearances are in favour of this view. It is crossed from east to west by a low limestone range, through which the waters have gradually forced a passage, and in like manner the collected rivers have escaped at the south-east corner of the valley.

There are three principal streams, the Bagmati, Vishnumati, and Manohora, besides many small tributaries of these. All the rivers rise within the valley, except the Bagmati, which springs from the northern side of the Shiupuri peak, and enters the valley through a ravine at the north-east corner. They all unite and pass through a long narrow gorge in the limestone range, already mentioned, at Chobhar, and ultimately escape from the valley at Kotwaldar.

Climate.—In and around the Nepal valley, as in India, the year may be divided into the rainy, cold and hot seasons. The rains begin in June and last till October, but the fall is not so heavy or continuous as in the plains of Hindustan. The cold season extends from the middle of October to the middle of April. During these months the climate is delicious. Hoar-frost and thin ice are common in the mornings, and the thermometer sometimes falls as low as 25° Fahr., but the days are bright and warm. From Christmas to the end of February there are occasional showers of rain; and snow falls on the surrounding low ranges, but is very rarely seen in the valley itself. From April to the beginning of the rains is the hot season, but the thermometer seldom reaches 85° in the shade. The result of observations extending over many years gives an average mean temperature of 60° Fahr., and an annual rainfall of about 60 in. Violent thunderstorms are not uncommon, and occasionally severe earthquakes occur, as in 1833 and 1866.

Flora and Fauna.—In a country possessing such a range of altitudes the flora and fauna are of course very varied. For descriptive purposes, Nepal may again be divided into three zones. These are—(1) the tarai and lower ranges of hills up to 4000 ft. in height; (2) the central ranges and high-lying valleys, up to 10,000 ft.; and (3) the alpine region, from 10,000 to 29,000 ft. in height. These zones are not, however, sharply defined, as the climate varies according to the latitude, the height of intermediate ranges, and the depth of the valleys; so that tropical plants and animals are sometimes found far in the interior, and the more northern species descend along the loftier spurs into the southern zones.

The low alluvial land of the tarai is well adapted for cultivation, and is, so to speak, the granary of Nepal; but owing to scantiness of population and other causes the greater portion of it consists of swamps, jungles and forests. Considerable stretches of land are, however, being reclaimed from year to year. The productions here are those of British India—cotton, rice, wheat, pulse, sugar-cane, tobacco, opium, indigo, and the fruits and vegetables familiar in the plains of India. The forests yield a magnificent supply of sal, sisü, and other valuable forest trees; and the jungles abound with acacias, mimosas, cotton tree (Bombax), dak (Butea frondosa), large bamboos, rattans, palms, and numerous ferns and orchids. On the Churiaghati range the common Pinus longifolia grows freely. Tea can be grown at a height of from 2000 to 4000 ft. The middle zone supplies rice, wheat, maize, barley, oats, ginger, turmeric, chillies, potatoes, Cucurbitaceae, pineapples, and many varieties of European ruits, vegetables and flowers. The forests contain tree rhododendrons, Pinus longifolia, oaks, horse-chestnuts, walnuts, maples, hill bamboos, wild cherry, pear, allies of the tea plant, paper plants (Daphne), roses, and many other inhabitants of temperate climes, with various orchids, ferns and wild flowers. In the alpine zone exist Coniferae of many kinds, junipers, yew, box, hollies, birch, dwarf rhododendrons and the usual alpine flora.

The wild animals follow a similar distribution, and the following typical species may be mentioned. In the lowest zone are found the tiger, leopard, wolf, hyena and jackal, the elephant and rhinoceros, the gaur (Gavaeus gaurus), gayal (Gavaeus frontalis), wild buffalo or arna, many species of deer, and the black bear (Ursus labiatus). Among the birds are found the pea-fowl, francolins, wild jungle fowl, and the smaller vultures, &c. In the middle zone there are the leopard, the Himalayan black bear (Ursus tibetanus), the wild dog, cats of many sorts, squirrels, hares, porcupines, the pangolin, and some species of deer and antelope. Among the birds are the larger vultures and eagles, pheasants (Gallophasis), chukor, hill partridges, &c. In the alpine zone are found the true bear (Ursus isabellinus, or brown bear), the yak, musk deer, wild goats and sheep, marmots, &c. Among the birds are the eagle-vulture (Gypaetus), the blood pheasant (Ithaginis cruentus), snow pheasant (Tetragallus himalayensis), snow partridge (Lerwa nivicola), the horned pheasant (Ceriornis saiyra), crested pheasant (Catrens wallichi), &c. Geese, ducks, waders of all sorts, and other migratory birds are found in abundance in the two lower zones.

Minerals.—The lowest zone in some directions abounds in fossils; and deposits of lignite, and even of true coal, are met with, the latter notably at a spot south of Palpa. The middle zone is rich in limestone and marbles, and abounds with minerals, such as iron, copper, zinc, lead and sulphur. Copper is found near the surface in many places, and there are remains of mines both at Markhu and in the great valley of Nepal. Mineral springs, both hot and cold, are numerous. Traces of silver, and also of gold, have been found in the alpine zone.

People.—The races occupying Nepal are of mixed Mongol origin. To the north, inhabiting the higher mountains and valleys, dwell the Bhutias or Tibetans. To the west lie the Gurungs and Magars. The Murmis, Gurkhalis and Newars occupy the central parts; and the Kiratis, Limbus and Lepchas occupy the eastern districts. There are also Brahmans and Chhatris in the hills. Besides these there are many small tribes residing in the tarai and some other malarious districts, known as Kumhas, Tharus, Manjis, &c., but generally classed together by the Nepalese as Aoulias, or dwellers in the malarious or aoul districts. These are probable descendants of immigrants from the lower castes of Hindus, occupying the borderlands of the tarai. Among the forests of the lower eastern region are also to be found some small savage tribes, known as Chepangs and Kusundas.

All the races except the Aoulias are of a decidedly Mongolian appearance, being generally short and robust, and having flat faces, oblique eyes, yellow complexions, straight black hair, and comparatively hairless faces. The Newars, according to the Vamçāvalī or native history, trace their descent from the races of southern India, but this is rendered more than doubtful by both their appearance and language. The Gurkhalis (Gurkhas or Ghurkhas) are descendants of the Brahmans and Rajputs who were driven out of Hindostan by the Moslems, and took refuge in the western hilly lands, where they ultimately became dominant, and where they have become much mixed with the other races by intermarriage.

Religions.—The Bhutias, Newars, Limbus, Keratis, and Lepchas are all Buddhists, but their religion has become so mixed up with Hinduism that it is now hardly recognizable. The Newars have entirely abandoned the monastic institutions of Buddhism, and have in great measure adopted the rules of caste, though even these sit but lightly upon them. They burn their dead, eat the flesh of buffaloes, goats, sheep, ducks, and fowls, and drink beer and spirits. The Gurkhalis, Magars, and Gurungs are Hindus, but the last two are by no means strict in the observance of their religion, though there are some peculiarities which they carefully preserve. Thus, for instance, the Magars will eat pork but not buffalo's flesh, whereas the Gurungs eat the buffalo but not the hog.

Priests.—Where temples are so numerous (there are 2733 shrines in the valley) priests naturally abound, both of the Hindu and Buddhist religions. The festivals too are many in number, and in consequence holidays are incessant. The rāj gurū, or high priest, is an influential person in the state, a member of council, and has a large income from government lands as well as from the fines for offences against caste, &c. Many other priests, gurūs and purohits, have lands assigned to them, and most of the temples have been richly endowed by their founders. Every family of rank has a special priest, whose office is hereditary.

Astrologers are also numerous, and their services are in constant request. One cannot build a house, set out on a journey, commence a war, or even take a dose of physic, without having an auspicious moment selected for him.

Languages.—The various races have all separate languages, or at least dialects. The Gurkhalis and western tribes use Khas (see Pahari), which, unlike the other dialects, is of Sanskrit origin. The Newars have a distinct language and alphabets, for there are three known to their pandits, though only one is in use now. Their language, called Gubhajius, greatly resembles Tibetan, but is now interspersed with many Sanskrit words. The Bhutias use the Tibetan language and alphabet.

Education.—There is a central educational institution at Katmandu with sixteen branches, or schools, over the valley of Nepal. This central institution has three departments, English, Sanskrit and Persian—or more correctly perhaps Urdu. Education is provided free by the state, and is encouraged by grants of scholarships and prizes. Boys passing out well are sent at government expense to the various universities of northern India to complete their education, and some have lately been sent to Japan. The evil effects of higher education, as taught in the Indian colleges, on the youth of Bengal, &c., has, however, given the Gurkha durbar a distinct shock, and it seems not unlikely that education in Nepal may receive a set-back in consequence. Some of the upper classes speak English fluently, but the bulk of the labouring classes is quite illiterate.

Katmandu is a perfect storehouse of ancient Sanskrit literature, and some of the oldest MSS. in that language as yet known to scholars have been found there. There is also a fair English library. Both are lodged in a good building.

Calendar.—There are three principal eras in use in Nepal. The Samvat of Vikramaditya begins fifty-seven years before the Christian era, the Saka era of Sālivanhn begins seventy-eight years after the Christian era, and the Nepalese Samvat dates from October A.D. 880. The Sri-Harsha and Kaligat eras are also sometimes used. Day is considered to begin when the tiles on a house can be counted, or when the hairs on the back of a man’s hand can be discerned against the sky. Sixty bipalas = 1 pala; 60 palas = 1 ghari or 24 minutes; 60 gharis= 1 day of 24 hours.

Health.—All families of good position have at least one baid, or medical man, in constant attendance, and there are also many general practitioners. There is a large central hospital at Katmandu, and some thirteen other smaller hospitals are distributed over the country, with free beds, and provision for outdoor treatment. There is also a small hospital attached to the British Residency. The diseases most prevalent in the country are rheumatism, chronic dyspepsia, skin diseases, syphilis, goitre, smallpox, cholera and leprosy. In the rains a number of cases of mild intermittent fever, diarrhoea, and dysentery are met with. Fever of a severe typhoid type is common in the crowded lanes and dirty villages. Vaccination is being gradually introduced into the country, and the general health of the inhabitants of the principal cities in the valley has greatly improved since the introduction of fresh water, which has been brought in by pipes from mountain springs.

Towns.—There are three large towns in the Nepal valley, Katmandu, the capital, said to contain approximately 50,000 inhabitants, Patan and Bhatgaon about 30,000 each. The houses are from two to four storeys in height, built of brick and tiled. The windows and balconies are of wood, and some are elaborately carved. There are numerous handsome temples in all the towns, the majority of which are pagoda-shaped and built of brick, with roofs of copper, which is sometimes gilt. The streets are narrow, and they, as well as the squares, are all paved with brick or stone. In front of the temples generally stand monoliths surmounted by figures of Garuda, or of the founder, made of brass gilt, or sometimes of black stone. Besides these three large towns, there are at least twenty smaller towns and numerous villages in the valley, all of which possess many temples. Some of these, as for instance those of Pashupati, Bodhnatha and Symbhunatha, are considered of great sanctity. Many thousands of pilgrims come at one festival to worship at Pashupati, and it is there that the dying are brought to be immersed in the Bagmati, and the dead are burned on its banks.

Agriculture.—While the Gurkhalis are occupied in military affairs, the agriculture of the valley is carried on by the Newars. The soil is varied in character, from light micaceous sand to dense ferruginous clay. The whole valley is cultivated and irrigated where practicable, and the slopes of the hills are carefully terraced, so that there is little grazing ground, and few sheep or cattle are kept There are some milch cows and buffaloes, which are either stall-fed or grazed in the jungles at the foot of the hills. Animals for consumption and sacrifice are all imported, and are consumed as fast as they are brought in. In the cold season the Bhutias bring large flocks of sheep and goats laden with bags of borax, salt and saltpetre. These are sold for consumption, except a few that are retained to carry back the bags. These droves are generally accompanied by ponies and some of the large Tibetan dogs; the latter are powerful, fierce, shaggy animals, about the size of a small Newfoundland dog. Poultry are kept and used by the Newars, especially ducks, the eggs of which are in great demand even among the orthodox Hindus. The crops grown in the valley consist of rice, both the transplanted and the dry-sown or ghaiya varieties, wheat, pulse, murwah, maize, buckwheat, chillies, radishes, mustard, garlic, onions, ginger, turmeric, sugar-cane, potatoes, ground nuts, many species of cucumbers and pumpkins, &c. Nothing but articles of food are allowed to be grown in the valley; hence its capabilities for producing tea, cotton and tobacco are unknown. All of these, however, are grown in other parts of the country, both in the hills and the tarai. Large cardamoms are extensively grown in the eastern hills, and form an important article of export. The hemp plant (Cannabis indica) grows wild, and is used both for manufacturing purposes and for producing the resinous extract and other intoxicating products which are exported. Plants producing dyes, such as madder or manjit, are grown in some places; and drugs, such as chirata, are collected and exported. The better class of soils yields a return of about Rs. 180 per khait, and the poorest about Rs. 90 per khait. From some of the finer soils as many as three crops of various sorts are obtained annually. The land-measures in use are different in different parts of the country. Thus, in the eastern tarai a bigha measures 90 × 90 yds. English, while in the western tarai it is only 15 × 15 yds. In the hills the unit cf land measurement is called ropni, which is about twice the size of a western tarai bigha,—and twenty-five ropnis make one khait. This measurement applies only to rice lands. Other land measurements for the valley are as follows: One Nepali bigha is 90 yds. × 90 yds. British. (A British Indian bigha is 40 yds. × 40 yds. and 3 Nepali bighas equal about 5 acres.) Sixteen ropnis equal 1 Nepali bigha.

Land Taxes.—The tarai lands pay from two to nine rupees (British) per Nepali bigha according to quality of land. In the hills taxes are charged on the plough, thus: one plough pays 13 annas; one bullock without plough about 10 annas; one spade 6½ annas. These taxes are termed Hal, Patay and Kodaley.

Horticulture.—The Newars are also fond of horticulture. Many European fruits, flowers and vegetables have been introduced and grow freely. The country is famous for its oranges and pineapples. Flowers are grown and sold for religious purposes, and even wildflowers are brought into the market and much used by the Newar women in adorning their hair, as well as for offerings at the shrines. Many wild fruits are collected and sold in the markets. Apples and pears, of English stock, thrive well; apricots and plums are good; peaches and grapes grow freely and are of large size, but they seldom ripen before the rains begin, when they rot.

Trade.—All the trade and manufactures of the country are in the hands of the Newars, and a few Kashmiris and natives of Hindustan. The trade in European goods is chiefly carried on by the latter, whilst the Newars deal in corn, oil, salt, tobacco and articles of domestic manufacture. The trade with India is carried on at numerous marts along the frontier, at each of which a customs station is established, and the taxes are collected by a thikadar or farmer. The Newars also carry on the trade with Tibet, through a colony which has been for many years established at Lhasa, but this trade has been a shrinking item since the opening of the Lhasa-Darjeeling route. There are two principal routes to Tibet. One of these runs north-east from Katmandu to the frontier-station of Kuti or Nilam, crossing the Himalayan range at a height of 14,000 ft.; the other passes out of the valley at the north-west corner, and runs at first upwards along the main branch of the Gandak, crossing the Himalayas, near Kerung, at a height of 9000 ft. All goods on these routes are carried on men’s backs, except the salt, &c., carried in bags by the Bhutia sheep and goats. The principal imports from Hindustan are raw cotton, 'cotton goods, woollen goods, silks and velvets, hardware, cutlery, beads, jewels, coral, saddlery, shoes, guns, gunpowder, glassware, Vermilion, indigo, lac, tea, betel-nut, spices, paper, sugar, tobacco, oils, sheet copper, goats, cattle, buffaloes; and from Tibet, musk, medicines, yaks’ tails, tea, woollen cloth, blankets, borax, salt, saltpetre, paper-plant, honey, wax, sheep, goats, yaks, ponies, silver, gold. The exports to Hindustan include wax, paper-plant, musk, yaks’ tails, medicines, cardamoms, borax, sulphate of copper, brass pots, iron pots, ponies, elephants, hawks, hides and horns (buffalo), rice, ghee, oil seeds, red chillies, madder, cobalt, potatoes, oranges; and to Tibet, broad cloth, raw cotton, cotton goods, tobacco, sugar, opium, coral, jewels, pearls, spices, betel-nut, copper pots, iron pots and hardware. The Nepalese are utterly regardless of statistics, but recent estimates value the exports and imports to and from the British provinces at 3 million sterling annually. Duties are levied on exports and imports. which will be noticed under the head of revenue.

Manufactures.—The Newars are skilful workmen. Their bricks are excellent, and so also is their pottery, for which certain towns are famous, such as Themi and Noakote. As carpenters they excel, though the use of the large saw is still unknown, and planks are cut with chisel and mallet. Some of the wood carvings on the temples and large houses are most artistic in design and bold in execution, though unfortunately they are sometimes of a most obscene character. The manufactures are few, consisting chiefly of coarse cotton cloths, paper made of the inner bark of the paper-plants (Daphne), bells, brass and iron utensils, weapons, and ornaments of gold and silver.

Coinage.—At one time Nepal supplied Tibet with its silver coinage, but this was abandoned on account of the adulterations introduced by the Nepalese. The ancient coins, specimens of which are still to be met with, were made by hand. The modern coinage is struck by machinery, a regular mint having been established by Sir Jung Bahadur at Katmandu, and since improved by his successors.

Government.—The Nepalese have relations with China, and occasionally send an embassy with presents to Peking. The British too have considerable influence with the government in regard to their foreign relations, and a British resident is stationed at Katmandu. But in all matters of domestic policy the Nepalese brook no interference, and they are most jealous of anything that has a tendency to encroach on their independence. Theoretically the government of Nepal is a pure despotism, and the maharajah is paramount. Practically, all real power has long been in the hands of the prime minister, and much of the modern history of the country consists of accounts of the struggles of the various factions for power. Under the prime minister there is a council, consisting of the relations of the king, the raj guru, the generals, and a few other officials known as kajis and sirdars and bhardars, which is consulted on all important business, and which forms a court of appeal for disputed cases from the courts of law. There are separate civil and criminal courts, but the distinction is not always observed, as difficult cases are often transferred from one to the other.

Law and Justice.—The old savage legal code with its ordeals by fire and water, and its punishments by mutilation and torture was abolished by Sir Jung Bahadur after his return from England in 1851. Treason, rebellion and desertion in war-time are punished by death. Bribery and peculation by public servants are punished by dismissal from office, and a fine and imprisonment, the latter of which can be commuted by payments at various rates, according to the nature of the offence. Murder and the killing of cows are capital offences. Manslaughter and maiming cows are punished by imprisonment for life, and other offences against the person or property by imprisonment or fine. Brahmans and women are exempted from capital punishment. Offences against caste are heavily punished by fine and imprisonment. In some cases indeed all the offender's property is confiscated, and he and his family may be sold as slaves. Bankruptcy laws have been recently introduced. The marriage laws are somewhat peculiar. Among the Gurkhas the laws resemble those of other Hindus as regards the marriage of widows, polygamy, &c., but among the Newars every girl while still an infant is married with much ceremony to a bel fruit, which is then thrown into some sacred stream. As the fate of the fruit is unknown, a Newari is supposed never to become a widow. At the age of puberty a husband is selected, but the woman can at any moment divorce herself by placing a betel-nut under her husband's pillow and taking her departure. Adultery is punished by the imprisonment and fine of both the adulteress and her paramour. Sati has been abolished in Nepal by law.

Gaols.—There are three large prisons in the Nepal valley, one for males and two for females; there are also a considerable number of gaols throughout the country. The prisoners are kept in irons, and employed in public works of various sorts. They are allowed six pice a day for subsistence at the capital, and five pice in other places. Their relatives are allowed to minister to their creature comforts.

Slavery is an institution of the country, and all families of rank possess many slaves, who are employed in domestic and field work. They are generally treated well, and are carefully protected by law. The price of slaves ranges from Rs. 100 to Rs. 200.

Revenue.—The revenue of Nepal is about one hundred and fifty lakhs of rupees, i.e. £10,000,000. The chief sources of it are the land-tax, customs, mines, forests and monopolies. About 10% of the tarai lands, and 20% of the hill lands, are private property. Some lands were assigned by the Gurkhali rajas to Brahmans, soldiers and others, and these are untaxed. Others, which were the gifts of the old Newar kings, pay from 4 to 8 annas per bigha. All such grants of land, however, are subject to a heavy fine on the coronation of a new raja. Land which does not produce rice is lightly taxed, but in the valley of Nepal, and wherever rice is grown, the government tax or rent is one half of the produce of the land. Waste lands, when brought into cultivation, are rent free for ten years, after which for five years the tax is only 4 annas per bigha, and the cultivator receives one-tenth of the cleared land rent free for his life. A considerable revenue in the shape of royalty is obtained from mines of copper, iron, &c. The taxes on merchandise amount to from 12 to 14% on the value of the goods carried to and from British India, and from 5 to 6% is charged on goods exported to Tibet.

Army.—Much attention is devoted by the Gurkhalis to military matters, and the bulk of that race may be said to be soldiers. The standing army consists of about 50,000 men, in a fair state of efficiency. Besides this force there is a reserve, consisting of men who have served for a few years and taken their discharge, but in case of necessity can be called on again to enter the ranks. These would probably raise the strength to between 70,000 and 80,000 men. The regiments are formed on the European system, and similarly drilled and officered. 'Each man carries in addition to a bayonet a kukri or native knife. There is practically no cavalry, as the country is not suited for horses. The artillery, however, is on a larger scale, and consists nearly entirely of batteries of mountain artillery. There is a large arsenal well provided with supplies of gunpowder and military stores. There are workshops where cannon are cast, and rifles, and ammunition of all sorts turned out in large quantities, but of an indifferent quality.

In addition to its own army, Nepal supplies to the British army in India a large force of splendid soldiers, who were raised under the following circumstances. In 1815 the British enlisted three battalions of Gurkhas from amongst the soldiers of that race who were thrown out of employment, owing to the termination of the first phase of the war with Nepal. These regiments were styled the 1st, 2nd and 3rd Gurkhas, and were soon employed on active service. The 1st and 2nd behaved with much gallantry at the siege and storming of Bharatpur, and in the First Sikh War, while the 2nd and 3rd won a great name for loyalty and courage during the Mutiny of 1857-58, especially at the siege of Delhi. This induced the British to raise, in 1858, two more battalions, which they numbered the 4th and 5th, and the whole Gurkha force has since proved its usefulness and loyalty on many occasions, particularly during the Afghan War of 1878-80, and on many frontier expeditions. Battalions have also been sent on service to Burma, Egypt, China and Tibet. The Gurkhas in the British service now consist of ten regiments of riflemen of two battalions each, and number about 20,000 men.

History.—Nepal and the somewhat similar country of Kashmir are peculiar among the Hindu states of India in possessing an historical literature. The Nepalese Vamçāvalī professes to start from a very early period in the Satya Yuga, when the present valley was still a lake. The earlier portion of it is devoted to the Satya and Treta Yugas, and contains mythological tales and traditions having reference to various sacred localities, in the country. During these two Yugas, and also the Dwapur Yuga, the Vamçāvalī deals in round numbers of thousands of years.

In the beginning of the Kali Yuga, the Gupta dynasty is said to have been founded by Ne-Muni, from whom the country takes its name of Nepal. Lists are then given of the various dynasties, with the lengths of the reigns of the rajas. The dynasties mentioned are the Gupta, Ahir, Kirāti, Somavanshi, Suryavanshi, Thakuri or first Rajput, Vaishya Thakurī, second Rajput and Karnataki dynasties. The country was then invaded by Mukundasena, and after his expulsion various Vaishya Thakuri dynasties are said to have held the throne for a period of 225 years. The chronology of the Vamçāvalī up to this period is very confused and inaccurate; and, though the accounts of the various invasions and internal struggles, mixed up as they are with grotesque legends and tales, may be interesting and amusing, they can hardly be considered authentic. Some of the names of the rajas, and the dates of their reigns, have been determined by coins, the colophons of old MSS., and certain inscriptions on the temples and ancient buildings. For instance, Ançuvarma, of the Thakuri dynasty, reigned about A.D. 633, as he is mentioned by the Chinese traveller Hsuan Tsang, who visited Nepal. His name too is found in an inscription still extant. In like manner it is ascertained from MSS. that Rudra-deva-Varma was reigning in 1008; Lakshmikama-deva from 1015 to 1040; Padma-deva, of the Vaishya Thakuri dynasty, in 1065; Manadeva, of the second Rajput dynasty, in 1139; Ananta-Malla, 1286-1302; Harisinha-deva, 1324; Jayastithi-Malla, 1385-1391. Much information as to the chronology of the various dynasties can be obtained from the catalogue of the Cambridge MSS. compiled by Cecil Bendall, and also from his papers on the ancient coins of the country. Inscriptions too have been edited by Professor Bühler in the Indian Antiquary, vol. ix. Detailed lists of the rajas are to be found in Kirkpatrick's Account of Nepāl, in Hodgson's Essays, Prinsep's papers in the Asiatic Society's Journal and Wright's History of Nepāl.

The records begin to be more accurate from the time of the invasion and conquest of the country by Harisinha-deva, the raja of Simraun, 1324. This raja was driven from Simraun by Tughlak Shah of Delhi, but seems to have found little difficulty in the conquest of Nepal. There were only four rajas of this Ayodhya dynasty, and then the throne was occupied by Jayabhadra-Malla, a descendant of Abhaya-Malla, one of the Rajput dynasty, who reigned in the 13th century. There were eight rajas of this dynasty. The seventh, Jayastithi-Malla, who reigned for forty-three years (1386-1429), appears to have done much informing codes of laws, and introducing caste and its rules among the Newars. In the reign of the eighth raja, Yaksha-Malla, the kingdom was divided into four separate states—namely, Banepa, Bhatgaon or Bhaktapur, Kantipur or Katmandu, and Lalitapur or Patan. There was only one raja of Banepa, who died without issue. The Malla dynasty in the other three branches continued in power up to the conquest of the country by the Gurkhas in 1768.

The Gurkhas claim descent from the Rajputs of Chitor, in Rajputana. They were driven out of their own country by the victorious Moslems, and took refuge in the hilly districts about Kumaon, whence they gradually pushed their way eastwards to Lamjung, Gurkha, Noakote and ultimately to the valley of Nepal, which under Raja Prithwi Narayana they finally captured. In the struggle which took place at Bhatgaon, Jayaprakasa (the raja of Katmandu) was wounded, and shortly afterwards he died at Pashupati. Ranjit-Malia, the aged raja of Bhatgaon, was allowed to retire to Benares, where he ended his days. Tej Narsinha, the raja of Patan, was kept in confinement till his death. During the latter years of the war Jayaprakasa applied to the British for assistance, and a small force, under Captain Kinloch, was sent into the tarai in 1765, but it was repulsed by the Gurkhas.

Prithwi Narayana died in 1774. He left two sons, Pratapasinha Sah and Bahadur Sah. The former succeeded his father, but died in 1777, leaving an infant son, Rana Bahadur Sah. On the death of Pratapa-sinha, his brother, who had been in exile, returned to Nepal and became regent. The mother of the infant king, however, was opposed to him, and he had again to flee to Bettia, in British territory, where he remained till the death of the rani, when he again became regent, and continued so till 1795. During this time the Gurkhas were busily annexing all the neighbouring petty states, so that in 1790 their territories extended from Bhutan to the Sutlej river, and from Tibet to the British provinces. At length, in 1790, they invaded Tibet, and were at first successful; but they were thus brought into contact with the Chinese, who in 1791 sent a large force to invade Nepal. In 1792 the Chinese advanced as far as Noakote, and there dictated terms to the Nepalese.

In 1791 the Gurkhas had entered into a commercial treaty with the British and hence, when hard pressed, they applied for assistance against the Chinese to Lord Cornwallis. In consequence of this Kirkpatrick was dispatched to Nepal, and reached Noakote in the spring of 1792, but not till after peace had been concluded. One result of this embassy was the ratification of another commercial treaty on the 1st of March 1792.

In 1795 Rana Bahadur removed his uncle, Bahadur Sah, from the regency, and two years subsequently put him to death. From this time up to 1799 the king, who seems to have been insane, perpetrated the most barbarous outrages, till at length his conduct became so intolerable that he was forced to abdicate in favour of his son, Girvan-yuddha Vikrama Sah, who was still an infant. Rana Bahadur once again recovered the throne in 1804, but was assassinated in 1805.

In October 1801 another treaty was signed by the British and Nepalese authorities, and a British resident was sent to the Nepalese court, but was withdrawn in 1803, owing to the conduct of the Nepalese. From this time the Nepalese carried on a system of encroachment and outrage on the frontier, which led to a declaration of war by the British in November 1814. At first the British attacks were directed against the western portion of the Nepalese territory, and under Generals Marly, Wood and Gillespie several disasters were met with. General Gillespie himself was killed while leading an assault on a small fort called Kalunga. General Ochterlony was more successful, and the Gurkhas were driven eastward beyond the Kali river, and began to negotiate for peace. Arms, however, were soon taken up again, and Ochterlony, who was put in command, in January 1816, advanced directly on the capital in the line of the route that is now in use. He soon fought his way as far as Mukwanpur, and the Nepalese sued for peace. A treaty was concluded in March, by which the Nepalese relinquished much of their newly acquired territory, and agreed to allow a British residency to be established at Katmandu. In November the raja died, and was succeeded by his infant son, Surendra Bikran Sah, the reins of government being held by General Bhimsena Thapa.

From this time the records for many years furnish little of interest except a history of struggles for office between the Thapa and Pandry factions, and futile attempts at forming combinations with other states in Hindustan against the British.

In 1839 Bhimsena's enemies succeeded in driving him from power, and he committed suicide, or was murdered, in prison. The Kala Pandry faction then came into power, and there were frequent grave disputes with the British. War, however, was averted by the exertions of the resident, Mr Brian Hodgson.

In 1843 Matabar Singh, the nephew of Bhimsena, returned from exile, soon got into favour at court, and speedily effected the destruction of his old enemies the Kala Pandrys, who were seized and executed in May 1843. At this time mention begins to be made of a nephew of Matabar Singh, Jung Bahadur, the eldest of a band of seven brothers, sons of a kaji or state official. He rose rapidly in the army and in favour at the court, especially with one of the ranis, who was of a most intriguing disposition. In 1844 he was a colonel, and on the 18th of May 1845 killed his uncle, and immediately, with the aid of the rani, took a prominent part in the government. After a short but turbulent interval of intrigue, he got rid of his enemies at one fell swoop, by what is known as the Kot massacre, on the 15th of September 1846. From that time till the day of his death Jung Bahadur was in reality the ruler of Nepal. His old friend, the rani, was banished, and all posts of any consequence in the state were filled by Jung, his brothers and other relatives. In 1850, finding himself securely seated in power, Jung Bahadur paid a visit to England, which made a great impression on his acute intellect, and ever after he professed and proved himself to be a stanch friend of the British. On his return in 1851 he at once devoted himself to reforming the administration of the country, and, whatever may have been the means by which he gained power, it must be allowed that he exercised it so as to prove himself the greatest benefactor his country has ever possessed. In 1853 a treaty for the extradition of criminals was proposed, but it was not ratified till February 1855. In 1854 the Nepalese entered into a war with Tibet, which lasted with varying success till March 1856, when peace was concluded on terms very favourable to Nepal.

In June 1857 intelligence of the mutiny of the native troops in Hindustan reached Nepal, and produced much excitement. Jung Bahadur, in spite of great opposition, stood firm as a friend of the British. On the 26th June 4000 troops were sent off to assist, and these rendered good service in the campaign against the mutineers. Jung himself followed on the 10th of December, with a force of 8000 men, 500 artillerymen and 24 guns, but too late to be of much use. Many of the mutineers and rebels, including the infamous Nana Sahib, took refuge in the Nepalese tarai, and it was not till the end of 1859 that they were finally swept out of the country. The Nana was said to have died of fever in the tarai, and it is probable that this was the case. His wives and a few attendants resided for many years near Katmandu.

In return for the aid afforded to the British, Jung Bahadur was well rewarded. He was created a G.C.B., and in 1873 a G.C.S.I., honours of which he was not a little proud. The troops employed received food and pay from the day of leaving Katmandu; handsome donations were given to those severely wounded, and to the relatives of the killed; great quantities of muskets and rifles were presented to the Nepalese government; and, to crown all, a large portion of the tarai was restored to Nepal. This ground contains most valuable sal and sisu forests, and yields a revenue of several lākhs of rupees yearly.

From the termination of the mutiny Nepalese history has been uneventful. The country has been prosperous, and the relations with the British have continued to be most friendly. Nevertheless the restrictions on commerce, and the prohibitions against Europeans entering the country, or travelling beyond certain narrow limits, are as rigidly enforced as they were a hundred years ago. Sir Jung Bahadur died suddenly in the tarai in 1877. In spite of all the exertions he had made to bring about a better state of things, three of his wives were allowed to immolate themselves on his funeral pyre. His brother, Sir Ranadip Singh Bahadur, G.C.S.I., succeeded him as prime minister. Shortly after his accession to power a plot was formed against him, but nearly forty of the conspirators were seized and executed, while others escaped into exile. He was, however, murdered in 1885 and was succeeded by his nephew Sir Shamsher Jung, G.C.S.I., who died in 1901 and was succeeded by his brother Deb Shamsher Jung. But in June of that year a palace revolution placed another brother, Chandra Shamsher Jung, in power, whilst Deb Shamsher fled to India. Maharajah Chandra Shamsher has ruled Nepal with much ability. He gave effective aid to the British during the Tibet war of 1904, and the relations with the government of India became more cordial after his accession to power. In 1906 Chandra Shamsher was created a G.C.S.I., and in 1908 he visited England as a guest of the government, when he was invested with the G.C.B. by King Edward VII. He was also made a major-general in the British army, and honorary colonel of the 4th Gurkha Rifles.

For authorities see Dr Daniel Wright, History of Nepal (1877); Colonel Kirkpatrick, Account of Nepal; Brian Houghton Hodgson's essays; Dr H. A. Oldfield's sketches; Sir C. M. Aitchison, Treaties and Engagements; Sir Joseph Hooker's writings; and Sir Richard Temple, Hyderabad and Nepal (1887).  (D. Wr.; H. Wy.)