Shah Kings of Nepal

Introduction to Shah Kings of Nepal

Nepal, under Prithvi Narayan Shah and Bahadur Shah, reached Sikkim in the East and Kangada in the West. Prithvi Narayan Shah was the first of the Shah Kings of Nepal. He protected Nepal from external invasion and increased its socioeconomic soundness. After his death, Nepal increased its geography under Bahadur Shah and Bhimsen Thapa.

However, The Shah Kings were weak in Nature, and the Rana Family under Jung Bahadur took Over. Shah Kings quickly took over Nepal after the introduction of Democracy. The Panchayat System was introduced in 1960 A.D. In 1990 A.D., Multiparty Democracy was declared and revitalized. In 2001 A.D., a Royal Massacre wiped out the Chief Shah Family of Birendra, and Gyanendra became the King of Nepal. He was officially removed in 2008 A.D., which ended the reign of Shah Kings in Nepal.

List of Shah Kings of Nepal

Prithvi Narayan Shah

Prithvi Narayan Shah was the founder of modern Nepal and was born on January 7, 1723. He received Education and Training from his Stepmother and renowned teachers. He had a failed marriage with Indra Kumari of Makwanpur and later married Narendra Laxmi. He visited Bhaktapur and ascended the throne of Gorkha at the age of 20 years.

He aimed to conquer the Kathmandu Valley and was involved in Treaties with Lamjung. He had four brothers and five children. After his father’s death, he became the King of Gorkha and formed alliances with Bhaktapur.

He successfully defeated Nuwakot after one Failure, Kirtipur after Two Failures, and then Makwanpur, Kantipur, Patan, and Bhaktapur continuously. His Reign also saw the Border of Gorkha expand to the Tista River in the East.

He is said to have imparted his Teachings of the Lessons of his Life on the famed “Dibya Upadesh”. He also promoted Nepal’s strong and independent foreign policy.

Pratap Singh Shah

Pratap Singh Shah was born in 1751 A.D. and became the Second King of the Shah Dynasty in Nepal at the age of 23 after the death of PN Shah. His wife, Rajendra Laxmi, became a regent after his death when his Son, Rana Bahadur Shah, became the King. He had a rivalry with his Brother Bahadur Shah. He conducted a Treaty with Tibet. He died of smallpox in 1777 A.D. Nepal’s Border was extended to Chitwan.

Rana Bahadur Shah

Rana Bahadur Shah was the son of Pratap Singh Shah and Rajendra Laxmi Shah and became king at the age of two after his father’s death. His Mother, Rajendra Laxmi, was his regent until he was 10 years old. After her death, his Uncle, Bahadur Shah, became his regent until he turned 18 years old. He renounced his throne in favour of his 2-year-old son Girvan Yuddha Bikram Shah at the insistence of his wife Kantimati.

He was exiled after the Ministers of Nepal transferred the Government to Nuwakot. He exiled himself to India and returned in 1802 A.D. He became the First Mukhtiyar of Nepal. However, the courtiers tried to prevent his involvement. He was assassinated by his Brother, Sher Bahadur Shah.

Girvan Yuddha Bikram Shah

Girvan Yuddha Bikram Shah was the eldest son of King Rana Bahadur Shah and Queen Kantivati. He became the King of Nepal at 1 year and 6 months old after his father’s resignation. The Anglo-Nepal War happened during his reign. Bhimsen Thapa was at the peak of his Mukhtiyari during his reign.

Girvan had two wives, Siddhi Rajya Laxmi Devi and Gorakhlaxmi Devi, and a son named Rajendra Bikram Shah. Girvan was born to a widow who later married Rana Bahadur Shah. Kantivati Jha, Girvan’s mother. He died soon after he became an independent King without a Regent.

Rajendra Bikram Shah

Rajendra Bikram Shah was crowned King of Nepal at the age of three after his father’s death. He ascended to the throne of Nepal at a young age. Bhimsen Thapa dominated his reign through Lalitatripurasundari, the step-grandmother of Rajendra Bikram Shah. He had conflicts with Bhimsen Thapa when he was 18 years old.

After he removed and killed Bhimsen Thapa, Jung Bahadur rose to Power. After the Kot and Bhandarkhal Parva, he went on a pilgrimage. He is considered to have been a Weak King. He spent the rest of his life under house arrest and died in 1881 A.D.

Surendra Bikram Shah

Surendra Bikram Shah was the Shah King of Nepal from 1847 to 1881. He was a De-Jure King with Limited Power. Jung Bahadur Rana was the true source of Authority during his reign. Surendra was essentially a prisoner in his palace.

He wanted to abdicate in favour of his son but was denied by Jung Bahadur. Jung Bahadur completely controlled the aspects of Nepal’s administration, military, finance, and governance. His son, Trailokya Bikram Shah, died, and his grandson, Prithvi, succeeded him as the king.

Prithvi Bir Bikram Shah

Prithvi Bir Bikram Shah was the King of Nepal from 1881 to 1911 A.D. He became the King as an Infant. He tried to rebel against Chandra Shumsher but failed. He was secretly slowly poisoned, according to Multiple Sources. He was betrayed by his men while attempting to overthrow Chandra Shumsher. He was succeded by his son Tribhuvan Bir Bikram Shah.

Tribhuvan Bir Bikram Shah

Tribhuvan Bir Bikram Shah was the first democratic King of Nepal. He reigned from 1911 to 1953 and ascended the throne at five. His mother acted as his Regent. He attempted to end the Rana Regime several times and finally succeeded.

He supported the Praja Parishad. He refused to approve the death penalty for Ganesh Man Singh. He sought refuge in the Indian Embassy and returned to Nepal when he declared the end of the Rana regime and the arrival of democracy. He died in 1953 A.D. and was succeded by Mahendra Bikram Shah.

Mahendra Bikram Shah

Mahendra Bir Bikram Shah was the King of Nepal from 1955 until he died in 1972. He established the Partyless Panchayat System in Nepal and paved the way for infrastructural, industrial, and economic development.

Mahendra was the eldest child of King Tribhuvan and Queen Kanti. He married Indra Rajya Lakshmi, the granddaughter of Juddha Shumsher Jung Bahadur Rana. They had three sons and three daughters.

Mahendra promulgated Two Constitutions in his reign. In 1960 A.D. he declared a coup d’etat, suspended the constitution, dissolved the elected parliament, and introduced the Panchayat system. He promoted the Nepalese National Identity and developed the framework of Modern Nepalese Nationalism and Patriotism.

Birendra Bikram Shah

King Birendra Bir Bikram Shah was the King of Nepal from 1972 until his assassination in 2001 A.D. He was born on December 29, 1945, in Kathmandu, Nepal. He married Aishwarya Rajya Lakshmi Devi in 1970. After the death of King Mahendra, Birendra was crowned the King of Nepal. He attempted to declare Nepal as a Zone of Peace. He reinstituted the Multi-Party Constitutional Monarchy in 1990 A.D.

The Maoist Movement began and reached its Peak a year or two before his Assassination. He and most of his Family Members were assassinated on June 1, 2001, A.D. Birendra liberalized the Nepalese Economy and was known to be a Compassionate King.

Gyanendra Bikram Shah

Gyanendra Bir Bikram Shah was the last King of Nepal and was born on July 7, 1947, in Kathmandu. He married Komal Rajya Lakshmi Devi in 1970 and has two children. He is the First Shah King of Nepal to have been crowned twice.

He became the King of Nepal after the assassination of Brother Birendra. He started an Autocratic Regime immediately and dismissed the Prime Minister repeatedly. He took an aggressive approach against the Maoist Movement.

However, after the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, a Constituent Assembly was declared. He was removed as King and the Institution of Monarchy itself was uprooted in 2008 A.D. by the Constituent Assembly.

Short Appraisal of Shah Nepali Kings

The Shah Kings of Nepal were simultaneously strong and Weak in character and Power. Their Reign of nearly 240 Years was dominated by Bhimsen Thapa, Jung Bahadur Rana, and the Shumsher Family in its early and middle Stages. Later, Shah King Mahendra established the Panchayat System and exercised unprecedented Power over Nepal, revolutionizing Nepal’s Infrastructure, Economy, Industry, and Society. However, the Constituent Assembly ended the term of Shah Kings of Nepal.


Pokhrel, A. (2023). Shah Kings of Nepal – Itihasaa. Encyclopedia of Nepali History.