Introduction to King Raghavadeva

King Raghavadeva was the King of Nepal when the Nepal Sambat (The official Calendar of Newar) was established in 879 A.D. He ruled Nepal from 880 A.D. to 920 A.D. according to various sources.

The Period of 879 A.D. to 1200 A.D. is often stated as the Dark Ages of Nepal. The Kaiser Shumsher Bansawali clearly attributes the beginning of the new Era to King Raghavadeva as the Founder of the Era.

However, his identity is shrouded in mystery and uncertainty including why he started a New Era in Nepal replacing the Manadeva Era in the meantime. Historian Petech has argued that he was a Thakuri who ruled Nepal and that his personality had little to no connection to the beginning of Nepal Sambat.

In Nepali Folktales, Sankhadar Sakhwa is said to be the reason for the beginning of Nepal Sambat.

Reign of Raghavadeva

The Existence of King Raghavadeva was highly doubted by Historians such as Cecil Bendall. However, Two Ancient Chronicles has mentioned him as the King of Nepal during the commemoration of the Nepal Sambat.

Hence, it can easily be speculated that King actually ruled Nepal. As the whole Existence of King Raghavadeva isn’t well known, the details of his reign aren’t well known as well.

William Kirkpatrick has attributed 63 years of Reign to King Raghavadeva whereas Gopal Raja Bansawali states that he ruled for 43 Years. Dilli Raman Regmi has adjusted his reign to 30 years.

Gopal Raja Bansawali on King Raghavadeva
Gopal Raja Bansawali

The Lichhavi Dynasty had ended in Nepal 5 or 6 Generations before the Rise of Raghavadeva. King Balarjunadeva, Baladeva, and Vardhamanadeva had ruled before him according to Dilli Raman Regmi. After the end of his reign, King Jayadeva, Sankaradeva, Sahadeva, etc. ruled Nepal.

Chronology of Dilli Raman Regmi

Beginning of Nepal Sambat

Historians have argued that an event of Large Political or Cultural Significance occurred during the reign of King Raghavadeva that caused a new Era to be started in the Karthik Month of 879 A.D.

International Historians have stated that he started a New Era to celebrate the End of the Tibetan Domination of Nepal or that a New Dynasty of Rulers was introduced in Nepal. R.J. Mazumdar has even argued that Rampal of Bengal actually defeated Nepal and set up dominion over Nepal.

Historian Dilli Raman Regmi, on the other hand, believes that in all probability Raghavadeva founded Nepal Sambat to commemorate the occasion of his dynasty coming into Power at the Time.

Alternatively, Folk Tales have stated that it was Sankhadar Sakhwa who caused the beginning of New Sambat by freeing the slaves of Kathmandu Valley.

This Folktale, whose origin lies in Bhasa Bansawali states that King Anandadeva was the actual one during this period. As Anandadeva ruled Nepal 200 years later, this claim cannot be accepted.

Hence, the Beginning of Nepal Sambat happened during the reign of King Raghavadeva undoubtedly. The Lack of Evidence to prove the identity of Raghavadeva has bent the History of Nepal for sure.


Although his reign, personality, and whole Identity are mystical, the Beginning of Nepal Sambat nearly 1100 Years ago happened during the reign of King Raghavadeva. The Nepal Sambat, which began during his reign is still practiced to this date.


  • Regmi, D. R. (1965). Medieval Nepal: Early medieval period, 750-1350 A.D. India: Firma K.L. Mukhopadhyay.
  • Shaha, R. (2001). Ancient and Medieval Nepal. India: Manohar.
  • Vajracharya, Dhanavajra, and Kamal P. Malla. “The Gopalraja Vamsavali” Nepal Research Centre Publications, 1985
  • Levi Sylvain: Le Nepal, Etuda Historique d’um royaume Izindou, 3 volumes, Paris, 1905
  • Kirkpatrick: An Account of the Kingdom of Nepaul, London, 1811.


Pokhrel, A. (2023). King Raghavadeva – Itihasaa. Encyclopedia of Nepali History.