Chandra Shumsher

Introduction to Chandra Shumsher

Chandra Shumsher is one of Nepal’s greatest Rana Prime Ministers with the longest Prime Ministership over Nepal from 1901 A.D. to 1929 A.D. He was born on July 8, 1863 (June 20, 1920). Chandra Shumsher was the sixth son of Dhir Shumsher Rana, Jung Bahadur Rana’s younger brother, and his Thapa wife, Nanda Kumari.

He began learning English at the age of nine and became the first member of the Rana family to graduate from high school (Matriculation)

From 27 June 1901 until his death in 1929, he is credited with several achievements, including the eradication of slavery and the 1923 Nepal-Britain Treaty. He is to this day unequalled in his Cunning Foreign Policies and Conservation Stance on Governance. To rule Nepal, he was able to depose his liberal and reformist brother Dev  Shumsher.

The vice-chancellor of Calcutta University congratulated him, stating, “A young student who holds a high military command in Nepal and has shown on this occasion that he can handle the pen not less efficiently than the sword.”

Rise of Chandra Shumsher

Along with his brothers Khadga Shumsher and Bhim Shumsher, Chandra Shumsher orchestrated the murder of his uncle, Sri Teen Maharaja Ranodip Singh, to rise in the line of succession for the hereditary Rana Prime Minister of Nepal.

After the death of his eldest brother, Bir  Shumsher, in March 1901, he became the Commander in Chief of the Nepalese Army under the premiership of his brother, Dev  Shumsher.

However, Chandra Shumsher, anticipating a surge in public awareness and eventual democracy from his brother’s brief administration, staged a coup and took power for himself in June 1901.

Reign of Chandra Shumsher

Chandra Shumsher’s fluency in English and his contacts in Calcutta, the then capital of British India, made him highly valued by his brother, Prime Minister Bir Shumsher, for his diplomatic skills. He was an essential figure in the Munsi Khana, Nepal’s foreign affairs office.

He dealt in Diplomatic Conversations with Britishers, French, and Chinese Officials. Under his leadership, British Monarch George V even visited Nepal.

After deposing his brother Dev Shumsher and becoming the Shri 3 Maharaj and Prime Minister, he wrote a religious letter to his brothers in which he promised not to expel any of them or their nephews.

He also declared that if he were to be expelled, all of his brothers and nephews would be expelled. He used techniques to ease any suspicions his family members may have had about his rise to power.

As Prime Minister, Chandra Shumsher ruled Nepal for 29 years, and his reign is widely considered to be the peak period of Rana’s rule.

Chandra Shumsher was also the most powerful of all the Rana Prime Ministers. Perceval Landon wrote, “The history of Nepal is the history of his (Chandra Shumsher) administration, his reforms, and his policy in all things foreign and domestic alike.”

During his reign, King Prithvi Bir Bikram Shah died, and Tribhuvan Bir Bikram Shah was crowned the King of Nepal. His Eldest Son, Mohan Shumsher, also became the Last Rana Prime Minister.

Reforms and Contributions of Chandra Shumsher

Ending Slavery

Slavery has existed in Nepal since the Vedic time, and slaves were treated similarly to animals. They were purchased and sold for various social, economic, political, and legal reasons.

Debtors keep their sons and daughters as hostages at the creditor’s households instead of interest practised in Nepal. From an economic, theological, and humanitarian standpoint, Chandra Shumsher recognized slavery as a shame in the human world.

Chandra Shumsher proposed three solutions to eliminate Nepal’s slavery system.

The statute for the abolition of slavery was passed in April 1825 (1 Baisakh, 1982), and the slaves of Nepal were released.

In accordance with this Law, no one was allowed to make slaves or buy and sell slaves, and whoever violated the dignity of the law would be punished with imprisonment for a maximum of 20 years. A person who was a witness in the buying and selling of slave girls would also be punished with imprisonment of 2 years.

Chandra Shumsher established the Kariya Redemption Department to compensate the slave owners. He withdrew 36,70,000/- in cash from Pashupati Guthi to compensate the slave owner and paid the price of slave girls.

He also contributed 42 lakhs in the name of Das Mochan Sanstha to end this wicked practice and 10 lakhs in his account. The money invested released the slaves, who were then adorned with Shivlings on their arms and dubbed Shiva followers.

Ending Sati

Chandra Shumsher is credited with legally ending the Practice of Sati in Nepal. Sati was a practice in which a woman sacrificed her life on her husband’s funeral pyre.

Chandra Shumsher staunchly supported the Sati system’s elimination in Nepal. He saw it as a harsh and inhuman practice with no place in contemporary society.

Chandra Shumsher took many steps to stop Nepal’s Sati system. In 1920, he issued a proclamation outlawing the practice. He also ordered the construction of shelters for widows.

Administrative Reform

1917 A.D. he established the Khadg Nishana Adda and made Shri Ganesh the new Director General. Additionally, he established the Khesta office to account for revenue and the Shresta Kaushal Adda to punish embezzlers.

In 1911, he established Bijji Goshwara Adda to supply electricity in Kathmandu and the Goshwara post office to improve communication.

He also established the Engineer Station in 1914, the Telephone Exchange in 1915, and a road depot, customs depot, and Nepal Mines Department in 1925.

Judicial Reform

Chandra Shumsher’s judicial reform sought to improve the court system’s effectiveness and fairness. Prior to his reign, Kathmandu had four sadar courts: Kotling, Ithapli, Taksar, and Dhansar.

Taksar and Dhansar were abolished, and Kotlinga and Itachpali were regularized, allowing them the authority to hear appeals in civil and criminal cases, respectively. He established the Bhardari Court as the last appellate court in 1906.

In 1921, he created the Vintipatra Niksari Adda as the last appellate court, hearing appeals and referring public petitions to Shri 3 and the Commander in Chief. This court also had the honor of hearing major original cases.

Chandra Shumsher published law books and sold them at low costs. In addition, he built courts in Taplejung, Dandeldhura, Humla, and Darchula.

Educational Reform

Although Chandra Shumsher initially opposed public education, he saw the necessity to create schools in light of the changing worldwide scenario. He established 60 schools and opened 10-12 new ones around Nepal.

He established the Chandra Middle College in Kalaiya and arranged for the admission of common people’s kids to the Darbar School for education. In 1901, just 17 students could study English at that institution, but by 1919, 142 students had been accepted.

He sent five Nepali students to India to acquire higher education in 1905. Trichandra College was founded in Kathmandu in 1911 to study and instruct higher education at the A-level.

By 1924, education had progressed to the B.A. level, and by 1925, five Nepalis had earned M.A. degrees from Calcutta University, and three had earned MBBS degrees from Calcutta Medical College.

Chandra Shumsher founded the Gorkha Bhasha Prakashini Samiti, which became the Nepali Bhasha Prakashini Samiti in 1913.

Other Reforms

He abolished tariffs on products traded in haat bazaars and across districts, formed a Joint Stock Company, and created cigarette manufacture regulations. In addition, he changed kipat land to raikar and enhanced earnings by converting jagir land to raikar.

He sent police officers to be trained, updated the army, released a book on military training in Nepali, and arranged for professional training for convicts in jail.


Chandra Shumsher is often hailed as one of Nepal’s Greatest Rana Prime Ministers. He was an educated Leader that took calculated Risks and established his Sons as Powerful Individuals in the Shumsher Clan.



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Pokhrel, A. (2023). Chandra Shumsher – Itihasaa. Encyclopedia of Nepali History.


What were the reforms brought by Chandra Shumsher?

Chandra Shumsher made significant contributions towards ending the practice of Sati and Slavery in Nepal. He made three propositions to end the slavery system in Nepal, such as fixing a date to free slaves, compensating the masters for their loss, and ensuring the freed slaves were fed and given work.

What are the personal achievements of Chandra Shumsher?

Chandra Shumsher is credited with various reforms such as the abolition of slavery and the Nepal-Britain Treaty of 1923 that recognized Nepal as an independent nation and ally of Britain. He was also able to depose his liberal and reformist brother Dev Shumsher, showing his strong will to rule Nepal

Was Chandra Shumsher educated?

Despite being born into a powerful family, Chandra Shumsher was not content with just his heritage. He started studying English education at the young age of 9 and became the first person in the Rana family to pass matriculation.

Who was Chandra Shumsher?

Chandra Shumsher was a historical figure in Nepal, born on 8 July 1863 (June 1920), who became the Prime Minister of Nepal and ruled for 29 years.

How did Chandra Shumsher come to power?

Along with his brothers Khadga Shumsher and Bhim Shumsher, Chandra Shumsher orchestrated the murder of his uncle, Sri Teen Maharaja Ranodip Singh, to rise in the line of succession for the hereditary Rana Prime Minister of Nepal. He later orchestrated a coup d’état and seized power for himself in June 1901.

How long did Chandra Shumsher rule Nepal?

As Prime Minister, Chandra Shumsher ruled Nepal for 29 years, and his reign is widely considered to be the peak period of Rana’s rule. His policies were highly influential, and he was known for his administrative reforms, both foreign and domestic.