Nepal History

The earliest points of Nepal history include reference to the Newars, the original settlers of the country. The Newari way of life still exists today and can be seen up close throughout Bhaktapur and Bandipur. In 563, Buddha was born in the settlement of Lumbini, northwest of Kathmandu. Lumbini was highly populated by the Newari people at the time, and a long period following Buddha's birth, making Buddhism an intrinsic part of Newari life. For many, the birth of Buddha is the most significant of events ever to have happened in the history of Nepal. Since the birth of Buddha, Newars have fostered both a Buddhist-Hindu faith that is still strongly illustrated throughout the country today.

Nepal did not emerge as a true nation until the later part of the eighteenth century. "Nepal" really only meant the Kathmandu Valley, and not the rest of the country known as Nepal today. This means many of the historical facts about Nepal pertain only to events that happened in the Kathmandu Valley and not as much outside of that specific region. Historical chronicles, also known as "The Vamshavalis," are the oldest known documents in the country, and were written throughout the fourteenth century. They are considered fairly accurate, but not spot on, when it comes to ancient Nepal history. Several dynasties are mentioned throughout the pages of the "The Vamshavalis" including the Abhiras, the Gopalas, and Kiratas, over a period of many centuries. Though these dynasties and events throughout their rulings are well documented, there is still little historical and authenticated evidence proving the rule of any of them.

The very first written documentation of Nepali history was through an inscription by King Manadeva I, from the Lichavi Dynasty, from about 464 to 505 A.D. This inscription is inside the Changu Narayan temple, the oldest of all temples in Nepal. It is the most popular on tours within the region and exemplifies some of the most impressive specimens of wood, stone, and metal craft in the entire Kathmandu Valley. This temple is devoted to Hindu Lord Shiva with the biggest attraction inside being the Vishnu image with ten arms and ten heads. Visiting is one of the top things to do when near Kathmandu.

The Lichavi Dynasty is said to have entered the country in about 250 A.D., with origins from India. Aside from the top monarch, King Mandeva I, the next significant monarch during this period of history in Nepal was Anshuverma, who was the first to open trade routes into Tibet. Manadeva's daughter Bhrikuti married a prominent Tibetan ruler, and was extremely influential in spreading Buddha's gospel in China and Tibet. Another Lichavi king named Narendradeval, established a friendly rapport with China. His successors laid the foundations of strong ties with India through marriage into Indian royal families. The Lichavi Dynasty enjoyed sole rule for a period of more than 600 hundred years through the history of Nepal.

The Malla dynasty rule, which began in the twelfth century, was an important part of Nepal history as well. Especially significant is the later Malla rule by Jayasthiti Malla, an important Malla leader reigning at the end of the fourteenth century. He was directly responsible for many important social and economic reforms as well as new ways of measuring and allotting land. His grandson Yakshya ruled the Valley to the end of the fifteenth century. After this period of rule in the history of Nepal, the valley was split into the regions Bhaktapur, Patan, and Kathmandu. The last of major rulers in Nepal history came with the Shah Dynasty, including the unification of the country. By 1769, Kathmandu had become the capital of Nepal.

More recent history of Nepal, including the last century or so, is as fascinating and involved as the events throughout the rule of three major dynasties, yet it is the early events in Nepal that have most significantly shaped Nepal culture. A ten-part, 77-article constitution was established in 1959 upon a Parliamentary System.The constitution deemed Nepal to be a democracy. This led to the election, by the Nepali people, of more than 100 members of parliament. Many interesting facts about Nepal followed these important elections, such as the swearing in of the first Prime Minister in May of 1959 and the revival of the old Panchayat System (an old social system) to improve socio-economic conditions. The Panchayat System received constitutional acceptance in 1962, was used for better social administration, and was then rejected and thrown out three decades later in 1990 during a Mass Revolution. King Mahendra then divided the kingdom into fourteen separate zones, and worked on bettering the modern progression and development of the country. Since then, Nepal has encountered many social, political, and economic reforms.

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