Surendra Bikram Shah

Introduction to Surendra Bikram Shah

King Surendra Bikram Shah was the monarch of Nepal from 1847 A.D. to 1881 A.D., but he had little power during his reign. Instead, Nepal was effectively ruled by Prime Minister Jung Bahadur Rana, who had forced Surendra’s father (Rajendra Bir Bikram Shah) to abdicate and put him on the throne.

Surendra Bikram Shah was a prisoner in his own palace and was only allowed to read literature. He wanted to abdicate in favor of his son but was not allowed to do so by Jung Bahadur.

Jung Bahadur had absolute authority and complete control over the fundamental aspects of the Government of Nepal of the Period. The Army, the Government officers and the Finance was under Jung Bahadur and the King had little to no influence over such decisions.

The Reign of Surendra Bikram Shah, as it was dominated by Jung Bahadur Rana, was tarred with Political Stability and Uncertainty. After his death, he was succeded by his son, Prithvi Bir Bikram Shah as the King of Nepal. His Son, Trailokya died before he could be crowned.

Despite holding the title of king, Surendra was a puppet ruler in all sense of the Word. His reign was overshadowed by Jung Bahadur’s control over the country.

Rise of Surendra

Surendra was born to King Rajendra Bikram Shah and his first wife, Queen Samrajya, in 1829 A.D. He was the crown prince of Nepal but was unpopular among the people. Surendra’s stepmother, Queen Rajya Lakshmi, was ambitious and wanted her son, Prince Ranendra, to sit on the throne.

But it’s possible that Jung Bahadur Rana, who shared Rajya Lakshmi’s ambition for power, worked with him for personal benefit. Jung Bahadur turned against the queen after the Kot massacre. When he turned against the queen, who in turn plotted to kill him (though the plot failed). Jung Bahadur, who had become prime minister by then, exiled Rajya Lakshmi to Varanasi, and King Rajendra accompanied her.

Before leaving, King Rajendra made Surendra Bikram Shah the prince regent. However, later Jung Bahadur forced Rajendra to abdicate, and Surendra was made the king. The Occasion of Surendra Bikram Shah becoming the King of Nepal was celebrated with 15 days of Holiday.

Reign of King Surendra

King Surendra was essentially a prisoner in his own palace. Nobody could visit him without Jung Bahadur’s permission. He was only allowed to read literature.

Surendra wanted to abdicate in favor of his eldest son, Trailokya, but Jung Bahadur did not allow it. Surendra was allowed to meet his father once a month. Rajendra continued to live under house arrest until his death.

In 1856, King Surendra issued a sanad. The Sanad formalized the Kunwar Family in Nepal and established their Dominance over Nepal, led by Jung Bahadur Rana. The honorific title of ‘Shri’ may be used five times with the king’s name and his descendants’, but it could only be used three times by the Kunwar family, who were ranked second only to the royal family.

While Surendra Bikram Shah remained the king (Maharajadhiraja), he had little power; Jung Bahadur Rana ruled the country. All branches of the government, including the army, the bureaucracy, and the finances, were entirely under the prime minister’s authority.

Surendra’s son, Crown Prince Trailokya Bir Bikram Shah Deva married three of Jung Bahadur Rana’s daughters, Tara Rajya Laxmi Devi, Lalit Rajeshwori Rajya Lakshmi Devi, and Hiranyagarbha Kumari Devi. Trailokya died in 1878, and his son Prithvi Bir Bikram Shah became heir to the throne.

Final Years and Death

King Surendra Bikram Shah died in 1881 A.D. His grandson Prithvi succeeded him as the king of Nepal. Surendra Bikram Shah died after the death of his son Trailokya Bikram Shah. Ranoddip Singh Kunwar was the Prime Minister of Nepal at the time.


Even though he was crowned king, he had little real authority, and Nepal experienced political unrest and uncertainty during his rule.



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How did Surendra Bikram Shah become king?

Jung Bahadur Rana after the abdication of Surendra’s father (Rajendra Bikram Shah) and put Surendra on the throne by sending an Ultimatum to Rajendra Bikram Shah to return to Nepal.

What did Surendra Bikram Shah do during his reign as king?

Surendra Bikram Shah had little power during his reign, and his reign marked the beginning of Rana Regime in Nepal.

Who was Surendra Bikram Shah and when did he reign in Nepal?

King Surendra Bikram Shah was the monarch of Nepal from 1847 A.D. to 1881 A.D.

What was Surendra Bikram Shah’s relationship with Jung Bahadur Rana?

Jung Bahadur Rana effectively ruled Nepal during Surendra Bikram Shah’s reign, and Surendra was essentially a prisoner in his own palace.

Who succeeded Surendra Bikram Shah as king of Nepal?

Surendra’s grandson Prithvi succeeded him as the king of Nepal after his death as his son Trailokya died.

What was the significance of the sanads issued by Surendra?

The sanads of Surendra formalized the dominance and political leadership of the Kunwar family, the family of Jung Bahadur Rana, in Nepal.