Nepal – the country of the Buddha and the Mt. Everest

Peace comes from within. Do not seek it without – Buddha

ANGLO-NEPAL War with East India Company

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on April 15, 2011

By Mira

ANGLO-NEPAL WAR (Gorkha &; British East India Company war):-
By the end of the 18th century, the British East India Company was firmly established in India. The East India Company had occupied almost all the princely States of India. They were looking for an opportunity to enter Nepal. The British were welcomed to Nepal during the Malla rulers. But Prithvi Narayan Shah did not allow them to stay in Nepal and a troop of British soldiers under the command of General Kinloch was badly defeated by the army of Prithvi Narayan Shah at Sindhuli in 1765 A.D. So, the British were aware of the strength and courage of the Gorkha soldiers. During the regency period of Bahadur Shah, East India Company put forward a proposal that the British might be allowed to trade in the boarder areas between Nepal and Tibet. But Bahadur Shah rejected that proposal. In 1792 A.D., a commercial treaty was concluded between Nepal and British India, but that was not enforced. Later, when Rana Bahadur Shah was in Banaras, Damodar Pande concluded a commercial treaty in 1801 A.D. That treaty did not favour British interest. East India Company always tried to maintain friendly relations with Nepal.
The East India Company wanted to trade in Tibet. The only way to Tibet was through Nepal and Nepal would never allow the British to go to Tibet through her territory. Moreover, giving permission to the British to go to Tibet through Nepal meant loosing her own market, i.e., Tibet. In such a situation, the East India Company thought to threaten Nepal with war.
Another reason for British aggression to Nepal was that they wanted to reside in cool and healthy hill stations like Dehradun, Kumaon, Shimla and Darjeeling. These places were under Nepal at that time. But the immediate cause of the war was annexation of Shiva Raj and Butwal to Nepal in 1806 A.D. For some time there were meetings and talks to settle the disputes over Shiva Raj and Butwal. Ultimately, in 1814 A.D. the East India Company declared war against Nepal. 
Preparation for War:-
Before the declaration of war, British government collected the valuable information about Nepal. Captain Knox himself had been instructed by the Governor-General to obtain detail information of Nepal, its internal and external defence. Lord Hastings, the Governor- General of the East India Company, prepared a detailed plan to attack Nepal at five points:
(i) A regiment consisting of 6,000 soldiers, equipped with 16 pieces of ordnance under the command of General Octorlony, marched from Ludhiana to attack Nepal from the far western border in order to engage Kazi Amar Singh Thapa’;s forces.
(ii) A regiment of 3,500 soldiers, under the command of Major-General Gillespie was to invade Dehradum, Garhwal, Srinagar and Nahan through Sohranpur.
(iii) A regiment of 4,000 soldiers, under the command of Major-General John Sullivan Wood marched from Gorakhpur to invade Palpa.
(iv) Major – General Laitor with his troop of 2,000 soldiers marched from Purnea to attack Biratnagar. He was also given the responsibility to incite Sikkim to invade Nepal from the eastern side. (v) Major-General Morley with his troop of 8,000 soldiers equipped with 26 pieces of ordnance, marched from Bettiah to attack Makawanpur.
To fight with Gorkha soldiers, the British collected 23,500 troops, later augmented to 26,000 troops, well equipped with guns and cannons. The British Army was divided into 5 units. On the war only Ochtorlony was able to adopt warfare. The remaining 3 commanders, Gillespie was killed in Nala Pani war, Wood was completely discredited, and Morley deserted. Lord Hasting borrowed Rupees 2,50,00,000 from the Nawab of Oudh. In the Anglo-Nepal war, Nepal government sent 12,000 troops under the command of Amar Singh Thapa and Balabhadra Kunwar.
During the reign of King Girbana Juddha Bir Bikram Shah, the British Government began to think of occupying the Terai region of Nepal. So the British Governor-General Lord Hastings ordered Nepal Government to leave Butwal and the 22 villages within 25 days. After that, General Thapa supported the idea of war. He knew that the British Government wanted to occupy Butwal and Shiv Raj at any cost. According to the plan, Lord Hastings ordered to unite the Bengal Army to occupy Butwal and 22 villages. The Governor of Palpa remained silent and was waiting for an order from Kathmandu. Some days later, the Palpa Governor got an order from the centre, then they attacked British Army. 18 British soldiers were killed and the rest fled from the battlefield. After that Lord Hastings declared war against Nepal on 1st November 1814 A.D.
Lord Hastings, the then Governor-General of India, declared war on Nepal on 1st November 1814. But ten days before the declaration of war, Gillespie, entered Dehradun. Balbhadra was in charge of the fort of Khalanga. He had only six hundred persons with him, including women and children. Fighting broke out between the English and the Nepalese troops. Gillespie was killed in the battle. The Nepalese troops hurled stones and logs of wood upon the enemy against their shower of bullets. General Maubi, who succeeded Gillespie, cut off the sources of water supply to the fort of Khalanga. As a result, lot of people died inside the fort for want of water. When the survivors, about 70 in number, saw that they has no hope of surviving, opened the gate, came out of the fort, and ran towards a stream nearby on 30th November 1814 A.D. The British troop was surprised to see this. After they had quenched their thirst, the brave Balabhadra said to the Britishers: “;Go and occupy the fort. We have deserted it”;. When the British troops entered the fort, they found there nothing but corpses. In this way, fighting for 39 days, the Nepalese troops went away, but did not surrender before the British troops. The British left an inscription on a stone………’;As a Tribute of Respect for our Gallant Adversary Balabhadra Singh and his brave Gorkhas……..”; This inscription still sings the glory of Bir Balabhadra and his soldiers.
Jaspau Thapa and Ranajor Singh Thapa were in charge of the defence of Jaithak. The British troops had to suffer humiliation at the hands of the Nepalese troops in the battle of Khalanga, and they marched towards Jaithak. The Nepalese troops had a total strength of two thousand two hundred persons, including women and children. They were attacked from two sides by six thousand soldiers of British troops on 25th Dec. 1814 A.D. The British troops were armed with guns, whereas the Nepalese had `Khukuri’; in their hands. The British troops suffered heavy loses in the battle. The British troops, along with the Marathas, under the command of General Martindale, unsuccessfully attacked Jaithak three times.
General Morley’;s troops advanced to attack Kathmandu through Hetauda. He divided his troops into three groups. he sent one from the right and another from the left, and the third unit was commanded by Morley himself. All the units tried to advance towards Kathmandu. The Nepali troops were commanded by Rana Bir Singh Thapa. He stayed at Makawanpur. All of a usudden, the Nepali captain Sarbaju Rana and Shumsher Rana attacked upon the British troops in Parsa and Samanpur. The British commander had never thought that the attack would be so quick and sudden. The British commander was killed and his troops ran away. General Morley himself fled. From that attack much arms and ammunition fell into the hands of Nepali troops.
Major-General Wood was planning to invade Nuwakot, but suddenly the Nepalese troops, under the leadership of Ujir Singh, fell upon the British troops at Jeetgarh (near Butwal) and shattered their plans. The British troops were unable to cope with the surprise attack, so they had to run away from the battle-field. Major-General Wood now simply planned to defend Butwal and Gorakhpur. After three months, General Wood attacked Butwal again. But the Gorkhali troops drove the British troops out.
Amar Singh Thapa was entrusted with the task of defending the west. A regiment of six thousand British troops made a surprises attack upon five hundred Nepalese troops and captured Nalagarh and Ramgarh. Amar Singh Thapa had stationed his troops at Gadwan. The Nepalese troops took the offensive. The British troops were defeated and fled. Octorlony wrote to Hastings for reinforcements. Even with reinforcements, every attack of Octorlony was repulsed. Amar Singh Thapa showed an uncommon bravery in this battle.BATTLE OF DEUTHAL
The seventy year old Bhakti Thapa was in charge of the defence of Deuthal and Suryagarh. The nearby Malun fort also was not safe. Deuthal was surrounded by British troops. In such a situation, leaving his small child in the care of Amar Singh Thapa, Bhakti Thapa marched forward with a naked sword beheading the enemies. The British troops were killing the Nepalese troops with guns and cannons to the enemy’;s side. In the meantime, he was shot by a bullet in his thigh and he fell down. The British troops were surprised to see the bravery of Bhakti Thapa. They saluted the corpse of Bhakti Thapa for his bravery even though he was their enemy.

Now the British were ready to negotiate peace terms. The Nepal Government also, without the knowledge and consent of Amar Singh Thapa, proposed a treaty. Actually, the treaty was in favour of the British, and according to the terms of the treaty Nepal had to suffer a great loss of her territory. When Amar Singh Thapa heard this, he sent a letter to Kathmandu protesting the proposed treaty. The treaty was rejected when it was put before the meeting of the courtiers.
Now the British were ready to negotiate peace terms. The Nepal Government also, without the knowledge and consent of Amar Singh Thapa, proposed a treaty. Actually, the treaty was in favour of the British, and according to the terms of the treaty Nepal had to suffer a great loss of her territory. When Amar Singh Thapa heard this, he sent a letter to Kathmandu protesting the proposed treaty. The treaty was rejected when it was put before the meeting of the courtiers.
After the Anglo-Nepal war, a treaty of peace and friendship was signed between the government of Nepal and the East India company. It is popularly known as “;The Treaty of Sugauli, 1815”;. It was agreed upon on 2nd December 1815 by Gajraj Misra and Chandra Sekhar Upadhayay, on behalf of the government of Nepal, and Lt. Col P. Bradshaw, on behalf of the East India company. The signed copies of the treaty were exchanged on 4th March. 1816 at Makawanpur by Chandra Sekhar Upadhayay and General Octorlony. The terms of the treaty were as follows:-
1. There shall be perpetual peace and friendship between the East India company and the king of Nepal.
2. The king of Nepal will renounce all claim to the lands which were the subject of discussion between the two States before the war; and will acknowledge the right of the company to the sovereignty of those lands.
3. The king of Nepal will cede to the East India company in perpetuity all the under mentioned territories:-
(i) The whole of low lands between the rivers Kali and Rapti.
(ii) The whole of low lands between Rapti and Gandaki, except Butwal.
(iii) The whole of low lands between Gandaki and Koshi in which the authority of the East India company has been established.
(iv) The whole of low lands between the rivers Mechi and Teesta.
(v) The whole of territories within the hills eastward of the Mechi river. The aforesaid territory shall be evacuated by the Gorkha troops within forty days from this date.
4. With a view to indemnify the chiefs and Bhardars of Nepal, whose interest will suffer by the alienation of the lands ceded by the foregoing Article (No. 3 above), the East India company agrees to settle pensions to the aggregate amount of two lakhs of rupees per annum on such chiefs as may be decided by the king of Nepal.
5. The king of Nepal renounces for himself, his heirs, and successors, all claim to the countries lying to the West of the River Kali, and engaged never to have any concern with those countries or the inhabitants thereof.
6. The king of Nepal engages never to molest or disturb the king of Sikkim in the possession of his territories. If any difference shall arise between Nepal and Sikkim, it shall be referred to the arbitration of the East India company.
7. The king of Nepal hereby engages never to take or retain in his service any British subject, nor the subject of any European or American State, without the consent of the British Government.
8. In order to secure and improve the relations of amity and peace hereby established between Nepal and Britain (East India company), it is agreed that accredited Ministers from each shall reside at the court of the other.
9. This treaty shall be ratified by the King of Nepal within 15 days from this date, and the ratification shall be delivered to Lt. Col. Bradshaw, who engages to obtain and deliver to the king the ratification of the Governor-General within 20 days, or sooner, if practicable.
In fact, this treaty of Suguali was in favour of the East India Company and Nepal had to suffer a heavy loss of her territory. So, a subsequent agreement was made in December 1816 according to which Nepal got all the low lands (Terai) from Mechi, in the east, to Mahakali, in the west. Therefore, the indemnity of two lakhs of rupees ceased to continue. A land survey was also proposed to fix the boundary between the two States.Source:

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