Bahadur Shah

Introduction to Bahadur Shah

Bahadur Shah was the Younger Son of Prithvi Narayan Shah and ruled as the Regent of Nepal from 1842 A.D. to 1851 A.D. He made much-needed advances in Nepal’s Unification Campaign and expanded Nepal’s Border to Garhwal.

The death of Pratap Singh Shah, son of P.N. Shah, was followed by temporary political turmoil. Rajendra Laxmi and Bahadur Shah battled for power.

By 1836 B.S., Rajendra Laxmi had established herself as the sole regent and ruled Nepal for six stable years until she died in 1842 B.S.

She expanded the western borders of Nepal to the Kali Gandaki River and established diplomatic relations with the East India Company.

Regency of Bahadur Shah

Bahadur Shah became the Regent of Nepal from 1842 A.D. to 1851 A.D. He was called back to return to Nepal after the death of Rajendra Laxmi.

He contributed massively to the Unification of Nepal. He also regulated the administration of Nepal

Beginning of Bahadur Shah’s Regency

Bahadur Shah was called to Nepal to replace Rajendra Laxmi as Regent. His faction had either been arrested, killed, or exiled by then. So, he freed his uncle Dalajita Shaha and Abhiman Singh Basnet after his return.

Bahadur Shah wasn’t challenged in his initial time of regency. Thus, he planned to conquer lands beyond the Kali Gandaki River, following his father’s wishes.

He felt that some diplomatic connections were necessary to carry out the integration process. During his years of Exile, he married the Princess of Palpa and built strong connections and dependence with Palpa.

Also, he decided to marry Rana Bahadur Shah, now 10 years old, the granddaughter of the King of Gulmi. He took the necessary steps to ease the integration process and sent his army to the western expedition from Gorkha.

Unification of Westtern Nepal

Within two months, the army took hold of Gulmi and Agrakhanchi, respectively. Following their victory, they attacked Parvat and successfully defeated the king of Parvat.

In 1843, the troops left Gorkha for Jestha 10. They conquered the kingdoms of Gulmi, Argha, Khanchi, Parvat, Dang, Pyuthan, and Rolpa within Mangsir 7. This was significant for Nepal since, within 4-5 months, the country’s western boundary had been stretched to the Bheri River.

The Kingdom of Palpa had extensively helped Nepal. Palpa was awarded Gulmi and Agrakhanchi for their loyalty. Also, Jajarkot and Nepal, which had conducted a treaty in the past, renewed it.

The major takeaways from the Treaty of Jajarkot and Nepal are:

  • Jajarkot will be allowed to handle its administration under Nepal independently.
  • In return, Jajarkot should provide Rs. 7,000 per year to Nepal.

Jumla plotted with Tibet and invaded Mustang, which was loyal to Nepal. Nepal responded by sending a strong force to invade Jumla.

Nepal defeated the King of Jumla, who fled to British territory. After Jumla, Dailekh was attacked. Meanwhile, the King of Bajhang surrendered to prevent war. The King of Achham didn’t surrender and was defeated by war. Doti was also conquered.

Hence, after another wave of attacks and victories, Nepal’s border finally reached the Mahakali River. This is the present-day border of Nepal. This is a summary of the complete integration of the Baise and Chaubise kingdoms into Nepal during the reign of Bahadur Shah.

Unification of Kumau and Garhwal

Bahadur Shah’s army didn’t stop there. Within 1847 B.S., an attack was launched on the Kingdom of Kumau, which was situated west of the Mahakali River. The reigning king was recently assassinated.

Hence, it was easier for Nepal to defeat Kumau. After Kumau, the next stop in Nepal was Garhwal. The Nepalese Army planned on attacking Gadhwal’s capital, Shrinagar. Small skirmishes occurred between the two sides until Ashar of 1848 B.S.

Finally, in 1848, Ashar 12 launched a vicious attack on Shrinagar. Thus, Shrinagar was also defeated. After the conquest of Kumau and Garhwal, Nepal’s territorial border reached the Yamuna River. In 1849 B.S. Karthik, a treaty was signed between Nepal and Garhwal.

The major provisions of the treaty between Nepal and Gadhwal are:

  • Nepal and Gadhwal shall have diplomats on each other’s land.
  • Garhwal must pay Nepal either Rs. 9000 or Rs. 25000 per year.
  • Garhwal will be isolated and cut off from other kingdoms.
  • Garhwal shall accept the superiority of Nepal.

Within seven years of becoming regent, Bahadur Shah stretched Nepal’s western frontiers to the Yamuna.

Fall and Death of Bahadur Shah

After two years of the treaty between Nepal and Gadhwal, Bahadur Shah was removed as Regent in 1851 B.S. Rana Bahadur Shah, the infant king, had turned 18 by this time and didn’t require a regent.

Thus, Bahadur Shah acted as regent from 1842 B.S. to 1851 B.S. Bahadur Shah, after being removed as a regent, wasn’t given any official posts.

He tried to increase his contact with China for some assistance through the help of his faction but failed.

Bahadur Shah wasn’t liked by the parents of the King. He had disputes with both Pratap Singh Shah and Rajendra Laxmi Shah. So, it was obvious that the Young King would be threatened by him. This situation was made worse by courtiers who pitted them against each other.

Also, the expenditure of Nepal had increased at an excessive rate during the regency of Bahadur Shah. He failed to provide the complete account and calculations to Rana Bahadur Shah.

In 1845 B.S., Bahadur Shah was forced to sign an unequal commercial treaty with the British East India Company. For these reasons, he was removed from the post of Regent and wasn’t given any other posts. The once almighty remained quite powerless in Nepalese Politics after 1851 B.S.

It looked like Bahadur Shah had easily accepted the humiliation, which wasn’t the case. He started to live in the Pashupatinath Temple and tried to disconnect himself from the Royal Palace. He attempted to woo the Chinese Emperor.

Bahadur Shah sent a mission to Tibet with gifts and so on. But the Young King arrested the missionaries.

Allegations to Bahadur Shah

Bahadur Shah was also arrested, and the following allegations were laid against him:

  • An Attempt to Assassinate and Overthrow Pratap Singh Shah
  • The Imprisonment of Regent Queen Rajendra Laxmi Shah
  • The Poisoning of Regent Queen Rajendra Laxmi Shah
  • Multiple Assassination Attempts
  • Locking Rana Bahadur Shah in a Dark Room
  • Not saluting Rana Bahadur Shah

Death of Bahadur Shah

After these allegations were laid down against Bahadur Shah by Rana Bahadur Shah, he was arrested. Bahadur Shah was imprisoned by Rana Bahadur Shah in 1854 B.S. and assassinated in the night. His last rites were performed the other day. He was born in 1814 B.S. and died at the age of 40.

Contributions of Bahadur Shah

Bahadur Shah contributed to one of the largest unification campaigns of Western Nepal. He expanded Nepal’s Western Border to the Yamuna River. He also conducted Peace Treaties with the East India Company and had a battle against Tibet. He built the basis for the future of Nepal and is considered to be a deserving son of a deserving Father.

Unification of Nepal

Bahadur Shah united with the Kingdom of Palpa and easily defeated the lands of Gulmi, Arghakhanchi, and Dhurkot. Major Commanders like Kaji Damodar Pande, Sardar Amar Singh Thapa, and Kaji Jiva Shah were employed for the task. The Nepali military also conquered Mustang, Galkot, and Bhirkot in the process.

Jajarkot, Dullu, and Dailekh were also defeated and unified under Nepal. Then, Achham, Bajhang, and Doti were also defeated and the Border of Nepal was extended to the Mahakali River.

After the victory over areas of the Mahakali River, the sensitive State of the Kingdoms of Kumaon and Garhwal was instrumentalized by Nepalese Kajis. They negotiated a Treaty after defeating the King of Garhwal that made them a tributary to Nepal.

After that, Bahadur Shah ordered his generals to return to Nepal because of the potential conflicts with Tibet.

Skillful Diplomatic Relations

Bahadur Shah was an experienced diplomat who could conduct effective discussions like his Father Prithvi Narayan Shah.

Firstly, he made constant contact with the East India Company. The Relations between Nepal and East India Company improved. It eased Nepal to move on with its Unification Campaign. However, he wasn’t a supporter of the East India Company.

He completed a Commercial Treaty with the East India Company. He also allowed for the First Mission of East India Company to Nepal under Colonel William Kirkpatrick who wrote the First Book on Nepali History officially.

Relationship with China

During the reign of Bahadur Shah as regent, Nepal, Tibet, and China had a relationship full of conflict, misunderstanding, and instability. It caused some consequences for all three nations.

Nepal had to provide some gifts to the Chinese Emperor for nearly 100 Years. Not only that, they also had difficulties in conducting Trade, Commerce, and other form of economic activities making Nepal inclined towards the East India Company.

Conclusion

Nepal lost one of its premier conquerors because of a psychological breakdown. Bahadur Shah should be remembered as the disciple of his father, for he was true to the wishes of Prithvi Narayan Shah.

His contribution to Nepalese history is often overlooked. If he hadn’t reached Garhwal in the west, the Anglo-Nepal War could have ended the existence of Nepal itself.

Also, Bahadur Shah brought political stability for nine years. After his death, Nepal entered a state of perpetual instability and court politics.

Miscellaneous

References

  • Subedi, Raja Ram, 2061, “Nepalko Tathya Itihas,” Sajha Prakashan
  • Acharya, Baburam. “Nepalko Sanchipta Britanta”, Pramodshumsher-Nirbikram Pyasi 2022 B.S.
  • Regmi, D.R. “Modern Nepal, Volume I and II. F.K.L.M., 1975
  • Pradhan, Kumar. “The Gorkha Conquest” Oxford University Press, Kalkutta 1991
  • Stiller, L.F. “The Rise of House of Gorkha” Ratna Pustak Bhandar, 1975
  • Gyawali, Surya Bikram. “Nepalka Shahbanshi Rajaharu”. Government of Nepal, 2031 B.S.
  • Kumar, Satish. “The Rana Polity in Nepal”. Asian Publishing House, 1967
  • Pande, Bhimbahadur. “Tyas Bakhatko Nepal” Part 1, 2, 3. CNAS, 2032 B.S.
  • Yadav, Pitambar Lal. “Nepalko Rajnaitik Itihas”, 2040 B.S.

Cite

Pokhrel, A. (2023). Bahadur Shah – Itihasaa. Encyclopedia of Nepali History. https://itihasaa.com/modern-figures/bahadur-shah/