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Prithvi Narayan Shah (1723–1775; Nepali: श्री ५ वडामहाराजधिराज पृथ्वीनारायण शाह) was the first King of unified Nepal and Gorkha Kingdom. He is credited for starting the campaign for a re-unification of Nepal. He was the ninth generation descendant of Dravya Shah (1559–1570), the founder of the ruling house of Prithbinarayan. Prithvi Narayan Shah succeeded his father, King Nara Bhupal Shah, to the throne of the Gorkha Kingdom in 1743, at the age of 20.
The credit of creating the Greater Nepal goes to a single person named Prithvi Narayan Shah whose courage and vision was the main reason behind the united Nepal we live in today. This visionary king was born in Gorkha on Poush 27, 1779 BS, as a first son to King Narabhupal Shah and queen Kausalyawati making him the crown prince and heir to the throne. He had a vision, to conquer all the small kingdoms and create a larger nation, which he never gave up on and was determined to fulfill it.
In 1742 Prithvi Nārāyaṇ became king of Gurkha. An ambitious ruler, he was able to quickly enlarge his territory by conquering the quarrelsome and disunited principalities around Gurkha. Prithvi Nārāyaṇ’s initial attempts to establish hegemony over the three Malla kingdoms were abortive, however; the raja of Kāthmāndu enlisted the aid of the East India Company in 1767 and was able to repulse Prithvi Nārāyaṇ’s encroachments. Two years later, however, after the company’s forces had been recalled, Kāthmāndu was taken. This allowed Prithvi Nārāyaṇ to consolidate his territories into a new “Kingdom of Nepal,” which he made into a unified, strong, and independent state. He then annexed Tarai, Kumāon, Garhwāl, Simla, and Sikkim in northern India, as well as large portions of the Plateau of Tibet and of the valleys of the Inner Himalayas. By conquering Makwānpur, however, he brought down upon himself the combined military forces of the East India Company and the nawab of Bengal, who together succeeded in retaking that area. Nepal at that time extended from the Punjab to Sikkim and was almost twice as large in land area as it is today.
He ascended the throne of Gorkha after the death of his father in 1799 BS at the age of 20. His first work after ascending the throne was to train his soldiers and start the process of expanding the territory of his kingdom. He had conquered most of the neighboring kingdoms and had developed friendship with the Kings of the three main cities that are Kathmandu, Lalitpur (Patan) and Bhaktapur. From the trade point of view, Nuwakot was the perfect place and also Kathmandu valley depended on Nuwakot for trading purposes. So, he attacked Nuwakot but could not conquer it in the first time and in his second attempt, he successfully conquered the kingdom. He liked the beautiful valley of Kathmandu so much that he desired to conquer it. He first attacked in Kirtipur but was defeated twice and also lost one of his bravest army chief Kalu Pandey. Hoever, he did not give up and he successfully won the kingdom in his third attempt. After that, his target turned over to Kathmandu and successfully attacked it in 1825 on the occasion of Indrajatra, then on the list came Patan and then Bhaktapur. Although he had developed friendship (Mit) relations with the king of Bhaktapur, the bond did not stop him from attacking instead he let his Mitjiu either surrender or flea from there.
After conquering these kingdoms, he turned his attention to the eastern and western kingdoms. He had successfully extended his territory to Darjeeling, now in India and while he was planning an attack on Sikkim, he fell sick. His health worsened and he died at the age of 56. Although he gave most of his time to the expansion of his territory, he also laid out the guidelines for governance, nationalism and foreign policy in his Divya Upadesh (Divine Advice). He laid out nine principles which formed the foundation of Nepali political and national life.
He was determined in his quest to extend his territory and he did not consider any type of relations seriously rather used them solely for the fulfillment of the purpose. No matter how cruel or strict Prithvi Narayan Shah was, it was this cruelty as well as his courage that made him able to fulfill his wish to unite the small kingdoms and create a greater Nepal. He was also responsible for developing the feeling of unity in diversity among the people of Nepal as he considered Nepal as the garden of four caste and 36 sub-castes. If it wasn’t for him, we might not have been able to feel proud to call ourselves Nepali. It was his courage that kept Nepal free from British invasion and also brought unity in diversity among the people of Nepal.