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Author:Laxman Burdak, IFS (Retd.)

Nepal is a landlocked Himalayan country in South Asia, bordered by the China to the north and by India to the south, east and west.


Indo-Aryan tribes entered the valley around 1500 BCE. Around 1000 BCE, small kingdoms and confederations of clans arose. One of the princes of the Shakya confederation was Siddharta Gautama (563–483 BCE), who renounced his royalty to lead an ascetic life and came to be known as the Buddha ("the one who has awakened").

Jats kingdoms in Nepal

Mauryan Empire

By 250 BCE, the region came under the influence of the Mauryan Empire who were the Maurya Jats of northern India.

Gupta Empire

It later became a puppet state under the Gupta Empire in the 4th century CE. According to historians KP Jayaswal and Bhim Singh Dahiya the Guptas were Dharan gotra Jats. From the late 5th century CE, rulers called the Licchavis governed the area. The Lichhavi Dynasty went into decline in the late 8th century.

Lichhavi Dynasty

The Lichhavi Period is the first documented period in the history of Nepal. The Lichhavi, having lost their political fortune in India, came to Nepal and attacked and defeated the last Kirati king, Gasti. Lichhavi Dynasty (I to 340 AD) was a Jat dynasty according to historian Ram Swarup Joon. Dr. K. P. Jaiswal has mentioned, on the basis of some stone tablets unearthed earlier, and with reference to the Puranas that Patliputra and Magadha were the capitals of Lichhavi Bharshiva Jats. According to a rock edict of Raja Jai Dev, found in Nepal, his ancestors had ruled on Patliputra in the first century AD, for 100 years after having come from the Punjab. The Lichhavi Dynasty originated in Peshawar. They ascended and relinquished the throne of Magadha many a time.

In 344 AD, Chandragupta, who was married into this dynasty, changed the name of the dynasty to Gupta. It is a classical period of Nepal history and is very well documented by epigraphic records. Stone water spouts and the icons of gods and goddesses are abundant.

The Lichhavis gave Nepal its first great historical figure, Manadeve I, in the 5th century. He was said to be a talented and brave king, responsible for conquests in the east and west. He struck copper coins and started the numismatic history of Nepal.

Thakuri Dynasty

In 602 AD, the first Thakuri dynasty began with the ascent of Amsuverma. Though he was not a Lichhavi, he married a daughter of the Lichhavi king, Shivadeva. He impressed his father-in-law and became de facto ruler. He was an able, true servant of the people. He was a far-sighted king in the aspect of making family connections making him a great diplomat. Amsuverma married his sister to an Indian prince. According to Thakur Deshraj, Thakuri people were Jats. Thakur Deshraj mentins in Jat history that when Mahmud Gazanavi attacked Chittorgarh around 1046 AD, Jat rulers around Chittor moved from here to other places. W. Crook in his book ‘Tribes and Castes of North west provinces’ has mentioned that Dashand Singh was a ruler of Bijnore. After seize of Chittor by Muhamad Gori out of two persons of this Royal clan one moved to Nepal and other to Bijnore. It shows that those who went to Nepal were Thakuri and those at Bijnore were Thakurela.

Visit by Xuanzang in 637 AD

Alexander Cunningham[1] writes that From Vriji the Chinese pilgrim Xuanzang visited Ni.po.lo, or Nepala, which he places to the north-west at 1400 or 1500 li, or 233 to 250 miles.[2] From Janakpur there are two routes to Nepal, one by the Kamala river, and the other by the Bhagmati or Bhagavati river ; but the distance is not more than 150 miles by either of them. The circuit of the country is said to be 4000 li, or 667 miles, which is much too small, unless the estimate refers to the district of Nepal Proper on

[p.451]: the Sapta Kausiki, or seven streams of the Kosi river. But in this case the hill country on the Gandak river must have been a separate territory, which is very improbable. I would therefore assign to Nepal the basins of both rivers, and alter Hwen Thsang's esti-mate to 6000 li, or 1000 miles, which is about the actual size of the two valleys.

The Raja of Nepal was a Kshatriya of the race of Lichhavi named Ansu-Varmma, who is probably the Anghu Varmma of the native histories, as he belonged to the Newarit or Newar dynasty of conquerors. As a Lichhavi, Ansu Varmma must also have been a foreigner, that is one of the Vrijis of Vaisali. The dates likewise correspond, as Anghu Varmma is the fifteenth ruler prior to Raghava Deva, who established the Newar era in A.D. 880. Allowing seven-teen years to each reign, the accession of Anghu Varmma will be fixed in A.D. 625, and Hwen Thsang's visit in A.D. 637 will fall towards the end of his reign.

It is curious that the kings of Tibet and Ladak also trace their descent from the Lichhavis. But if their claims are well founded they must have been offshoots from the Nepal branch of the family. Now the Lichhavi conquest of Nepal is assigned to Newarit, who preceded Anghu Varmma by 37 reigns, which at 17 years each, will give a period of 629 years, equivalent to B.C. 4 for his accession. The Tibetan history begins with the accession of Nyah-khri-Tsanpo, whose date is roughly fixed at 500 years prior to Lha-Thothori in A.D. 407, or about 93 B.C. But as Lha-Thothori's fifth successor was born in A.D. 627, there must be an error of about one century and

[p.452]: a half in the date of 407. Applying this correction to the date of the first king, the Lichhavi conquest cannot be fixed earlier than A.D. 50, or about two generations after the conquest of Nepal.


External links

Back to Places
  1. The Ancient Geography of India/Vajji, p.450-452
  2. Julien's 'Hiouen Thsang,' ii. 407.