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Anglo-Gorkha War of Nepal and the East India Company

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  • Last Updated : 13 Sep, 2022
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Anglo-Gorkha War started in the year 1814 and continued till 1816. Eventually turned out beneficial for both the British East India Company and Nepal. It established the bravery and valour of the Gorkha Nepalese Army. To the extent that till date the Gorkha men are hired by Britain and India in their Army and also by the Singapore police. And on the other hand, the British consolidated northern regions of India into it and gained access to trade with Tibet through Nepal.

The Emergence of Gorkhali:

Gorkha was a small place in the Central hills of Nepal. The people of Gorkha who were under the Hindu Shah Kings were Known as Gorkhali.
The rise of Gorkha in Nepal from 1736 to early 1800 proved crucial in the remarkable journey of the Gorkha empire. 

  • They extended their boundaries from central Nepal to the eastern and western sides of the Gorkha region. 
  • Gorkha’s had conquered the lands of Sikkim, Kumaon, and Garhwal. Nurtured the ambition to further expand the territories in northern India.
  • The Gorkha battle cry “Jai Mahakali Ayo Gorkhali” and Khukri Weapon became the symbol of the Gorkha soldier’s bravery and strength.
  • Even today their Forts can be seen from the Mahakali River to Pithoragarh, Almora, Nainital, Haridwar, Khalanga, Dehradoon, Mussoorie, and Nahan.  
  • At present, there are approximately 60,000 members of Gorkha families in Himachal Pradesh, and 70,000 in Kumaon and Garhwal.  And 3 million Nepali-speaking Indians live in Assam, Meghalaya, and the North-Eastern states. 

Their Dispute with The British East India Company:

During the same time, East India Company was aiming at acquisition across India. 

  • After acquiring Calcutta, Madras, and Bombay they aspired to bring more regions under their control.
  • The British East India Company was already facing strong resistance in other parts of India, in particular, the Khalsa army of Punjab and the Peshwa of Maratha.
  • Therefore, the British East India Company saw an opportunity in the Indian regions occupied by Gorkha.• Moreover, Gorkhali’s ambition to expand in India was against the British expansion plan in India.
  • In addition, the East India Company wanted revenge for the previous defeat against Gorkhas in 1767 at Sindhuli Gadhi Fort. When the Malla King of Kathmandu had invited Britishers, fearing the Gorkha invasion.
  • Further East India Company wanted to access Tibet via Nepal for Trade activities. 

What Sparked off the Battle:

  • In the year 1804 Gorkhas occupied the regions of Butwal and killed the reigning Raja of Palpa. And Prime Minister of the Ghorkhali region Bhimsen Thapa appointed his father as the governor of the Palpa region.
  • However, the East India Company considered this, an illegal occupation of their land by the Gorkhas. Because Britishers had already taken charge of the Palpa region, through the acquisition of Nawab of Awadh Lands.
  • In October 1813, when Francis Edward Rawdon-Hastings assumed command as the Governor-General realized that the major border dispute between Gorkhali and the British was mainly due to the lack of border demarcation.    

Hence, because of the uprising expansion threat from Gorkha’s British finally declared War on the Gorkha in 
November 1814.

It was one of the most Expensive Wars and Involved a lot of Bloodsheds.

  • It began with the target to capture Nalagarh Fort (Present-day Himachal Pradesh)
  • As soon as the Battle started within four months the Gorkhalis lost Khalanga, Nalagarh, and Ramsheher Passes.
  • The disconnect between Bhimsen Thapa the Mukhtiyar General (Prime Minister) and Gorkhali General Amar Singh Thapa of Gorkha Kingdom worked in favour of the British.
  • Despite being outnumbered and with better ammunition, the British East India Company was constantly fighting with Gorkhalis. Considering the fact, that the Gorkhas were more familiar and accustomed to the region.

The War ended in 1816 with the signing of the Treaty of Sugauli, which took away almost one-third of Gorkha Kingdom territory.

  • Gorkhali had to give away Garhwal and Kumaon regions.
  • They had to pull out from Sikkim.
  • Finally agreed to abandon its claims to encroached parts of the Tarai region.
  • The Britishers were able to fix the boundaries of Nepal or the Gorkha Kingdom from the Mechi River to the Mahakali River.
  • The Treaty of Sugauli proved extremely profitable for the East India Company 
  • The territories acquired in Himachal Pradesh were built into Hill Stations such as Shimla, Mussoorie, and Nainital.
  • Gorkhas became East India Company’s friends they got access to central Asia for Trade.

The war ended but it left the tales of Gorkhalis, their women, and children who participated in the war. Thus, Gorkhalis proved their Grit and Valour to the world.

 

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