Gurkha History

Gurkha History

Gurkha’s are Soldiers from the Himalayan country of Nepal. The name Gurkha, adapted from a place in Western Nepal Gorkha, the inhabitants of the area thus named Gorkha, and as a whole everyone coming from Nepal is referred to as a Gorkhali or Gurkha. An alternate theory suggests that the name originated from a saint by the name of Guru Gorakhnath, who had a disciple who later went on to become the ancestor of the Royal Family of Nepal. It is said that Gorkhnath gave the Khukuri to Bappa Rawal who established the Mewar Dynasty in the present day Rajasthan.

It is said that, one day while playing with his friends he ended up outside the cave where Guru Gorakhnath was meditating. Bappa Rawal then took guard of that cave knowing that it might be vulnerable, in attempt to protect the saint he guarded the cave. Up on ending his meditation, the saint was pleased with the young prince and gave him his Kinfe, which is believed to have been similar to the traditional Khukuri. It is said that thereby Guru Gorakhnath told him that he was no a Gurkha, a disciple of Gorakhnath and that their bravery would be known to the world. The Gurkha’s are known to be descendants of Hindu Rajputs and Brahmins of Northeast India, Bappa Rawal being one of them, who is believed to be the ancestor of Royals family of Nepal. It is believed that Bappa went to Afghanistan and stopped the Islamic movement, not only that but there are legends about Bappa conquering Iraq and Iran.

There’s still a controversy regarding the origin of the name Gurkha, some claim that it has been adapted from the place Gorkha, where as some believe that after the Gurkhas inhibited the Land, it came to be known as Gorkha. It is believed that during the early 1500’s Bappa Rawal went on to conquer a small kingdom in present day Nepal, which they named after their saint Guru Gorakhnath, which still has a temple of Gorakhnath.

By 1700’s the leadership of that land was forwarded to Prithivi Narayan Shah who later went on to conquer all the small kingdoms of the country and unified Nepal. The majority of Gurkhas in early days were from Rajput and Thakuri , Chhetri ethnic group. They aggregated during the expansion of Gorkha kingdom in the 17th century.

During the Gurkha War or Anglo-Nepalese war (1814–1816) the Gurkhas put out their instance in the battle field for being notable as the most fierce soldiers the world has ever known of. The British East India Company, which had completely colonized India was marching upon towards the Kingdom of Nepal which resulted in war between the two parties. The war started at the battle of Nalapani, where a British troops of over 3000 led by Major-General Rollo Gillespie confronted with some 600 Gurkha troops led by Balbhadra Kunwar. The unexpected resistance and the agility of the Gurkhas resulted in the death of major Gillespie. The British then took a different approach and cut the water sources for days which led to a head on attack by some 70 or so troops lead out by Balbhadar Kunwar. Balbhadra and his 600 men or so held the fort successfully for a month against 3000 stronghold British troops. Not only that, but the similar event s took place in every places where British attacked from.

Similarly in the Eastern region, Major-General Ochterlony led his troops against the troops of Amar Singh Thapa. The British were forced to use more than 35000 troops and 100 artillery. But that didn’t dampen the spirit of the Gurkha’s, though the Gurkha’s lost the war, the British could not resist praising the bravery of the Gurkha’s.

The fierceness and determination and never giving up quality of the Gurkha’s caught eyes of the British. In the end, a treaty was signed, which is Known as the Sugauli Treaty, which ended up with Nepal losing Sikkim and other territories. But the Gurkha’s gained trust and honor from the British and till this day, the Gurkha’s are recruited to serve the British monarchy as well fight war for the British.

Robert Hardman : Thank God the Gurkhas are on our side

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