Gurkhas Invasion: Its Nature and Consequences


The Gorkhas, a martial tribe came to power in Nepal in the year 1768. They consolidated their military power and began to expand their territory. The Gorkha kingdom of Nepal had won Kumaon hills by 1791 and annexed Garhwal by 1804, however, its armies invaded Himachal Pradesh on an invitation. Actually, two invitations. The first was from the ousted Raja of Sirmaur Karam Prakash and the second from the Raja of Bilaspur (Kahlur) Mahan Chand in the context to fight against the Raja Sansar Chand.

Gurkha Soldier

Inexperience Ruler of Sirmaur and intervention from other Hill States :

  • Raja Karam Parkash became the ruler of Sirmaur (1793-1814), but he was an inexperienced and lazy leader.
  • Raja Ram Saran Singh of Hindur (Nalagarh) was causing trouble in Sirmaur by interfering in its affairs.
  • A conspiracy unfolded where influential officials, Ajit Singh and Kishan Singh, along with Karam Parkash’s brother, Kanwar Rattan Singh, wanted to take the throne. They trapped Karam Parkash in a fort called ‘Kangra,’ and in the fighting that occurred, a man named Cholu Mian, who looked like Karam Parkash, was killed. This led to rumors that the ruler was dead.
  • Taking advantage of the chaos, Raja Karam Parkash managed to escape with his family to Kalsi. Kanwar Rattan Singh took over as the ruler.




Gurkha Intervention and Further Conflicts:

  • Feeling hopeless, Karam Parkash sought help from Gurkhas. Amar Singh Thapa sent a group of 700 soldiers under Bhakti Thapa to deal with the rebels, but they were surrounded by a Hindur force at “Jamata” and had to surrender in 1804.
  • However, Karam Parkash didn’t give up and reminded Amar Singh Thapa of their treaty. This time, Amar Singh Thapa himself came and subdued most of the neighboring states and Sirmaur.
  • After expelling Rattan Singh, Amar Singh Thapa established his rule, leaving Karam Parkash in a difficult situation.


Raja Ram Saran Singh and his alliance with Raja Sansar Chand:

  • During this period, Raja Ram Saran Singh of Hindur gained the support of 12 Thakurais, who were previously loyal to Kahlur, renouncing their allegiance in 1793.
  • Raja Ram Saran also allied with Raja Sansar Chand of Kangra. Sansar Chand captured land to the north of Kahlur and built a fort called “ Chattipur’ at Dhar Jhanjiar.
  • Raja Ram Saran also attacked Kahlur, taking Bilaspur town and capturing forests, making Raja Mahan Chand of Kahlur vulnerable.
  • In response to Sansar Chand’s actions, other hill states formed a coalition against him and invited Gurkha Chief Amar Singh Thapa in 1804.

Raja Sansar Chand


Invitation to Gurkha’s against Sansar Chand and Battle of Mahal Morian

  • Amar Singh Thapa’s forces defeated Hindur troops at Ajamgarh and besieged the forts of Ramgarh and Nalagarh.
  • They managed to bribe the garrisons at these forts, causing Raja Ram Saran Singh to flee to Palasi. Raja Mahan Chand was entrusted with the Thakurais.
  • Amar Singh Thapa was invited by Mahan Chand and other hill chiefs against the increasing aggression of Sansar Chand.
  • Amar Singh Thapa, with an army of about 40,000 men, crossed the Satluj River with support from various hill states, totalling about one lakh men. In 1806, they defeated Kangra forces at Mahal Morian.
  • Sansar Chand took shelter at Kangra Fort. From 1806-09 Sansar Chand remained inside the fort and remained Kangra valley was plundered by Gurkhas for four years.

          Kangra Fort

Emergence of Sikh in Kangra and Retreat of Gurkhas from Kangra and their settlement at Arki

  • After four years of struggle, Raja Sansar Chand sought help from Maharaja Ranjit Singh in 1809, leading to a historical treaty known as “Jawalamukhi Treaty”. This Treaty was signed on 20 July 1809.
  • The Sikh army advanced and defeated the Gurkhas, who had been weakened by desertions and diseases.
  • Kangra fort was surrendered to Maharaja Ranjit Singh on August 24, 1809 as per treaty.
  • With the fall of Kangra, the Kangra state and other states in the region came under Sikh control.
  • After Amar Singh Thapa’s retreat from Kangra, he faced resistance from Raja Ram Saran Singh of Hindur, but the advance of British troops saved ‘Palasi’ from capture.
  • Amar Singh Thapa then established himself at Arki and later sent a force to attack all Shimla hill states.
  • By the year 1810, Gurkhas had conquered Hindur and Jubbal states.
  • By 1812, Gurkhas had conquered several territories such as fort of Nagana at Balsan, then Bushahr. Raja Uagar singh of Bushahr died in the conflict leaving his minor son Mahinder Singh behind.
  • Later Wazir of Bushahr fled with Mahinder Singh and Rajmata in dense forests to north of Bushahr. Later Mahinder Singh was restored as Raja of Bushahr by Amar Singh Thapa and retired to Arki by 1813.








The Gurkhas and the British: The Anglo-Nepalese War and the Sugauli Treaty


  • Expansion of the East India Company in northern India alarmed the Gurkhas.
  • Gurkhas sought to occupy villages in the plains of Sirhind.
  • British wanted a buffer zone between Gurkhas and their interests.

First Frontier Crisis (1813)

  • Gurkhas seized six villages, including two Sikh proteges’ villages.
  • Patiala and Hindur claimed the territory.
  • Amar Singh Thapa insisted it belonged to Sirmaur and Keonthal states.
  • David Ochterlony objected to Gurkha expansion.
  • Gurkhas controlled Himalayan passes, affecting trade routes.
  • British merchants sought access to Tibet’s goods.

British Himalayan Policy (1814)

  • British framed a policy based on border issues and economic interests.
  • Nepali government uncooperative with British demands.
  • War declared against the Gurkhas on November 1, 1814.

Alliance Against Gurkhas

  • Local hill rulers supported British due to Gurkha invasions.
  • Proclamation to hill chiefs, offering reinstatement under British guarantee.
  • Four separate divisions of troops operated to liberate Himalayan states.


Major achievements by Britishers in War:

  • Major Gillespie attacked Gurkhas at Kalinga, won but with casualties.
  • Ranzor Singh Thapa defended Jaitak fort at Nahan, causing British losses. Ochterlony acclimated to terrains before further attacks.
  • Amar Singh Thapa resisted British but local chiefs aided British which eventually forced Amar Sing Thapa moved to Malaon fort and lost important forts such as Jorjori, Ramgah and Taragarh.
  • Two local chief of Jubbal, Dangi wazir and Primu helped Brritishers to capture Chaupal and then Rawingarh fort.
  • Kirti Rana surrendered in Hattu Range. Wazir of Bushar Tikkam Das and Badri Das helped Britishers in this campaign.


Ochterlony’s final Campaign

  • Ochterlony sealed approaches to Gurkha ridge, forced Amar Singh Thapa to evacuate forts.
  • Ramgarh and Malaon forts surrendered to British.
  • Brave 74 year old soldier Bhakti Thapa was martyred at Malaon fort.
  • Finally Amar Singh Thapa surrendered on November 28, 1815.
  • Treaty of Sagauli (Sugauli) signed on 2 Dec, 1815 between David Ochterlony and Amar Singh Thapa.
  • Gurkhas allowed to return to Nepal, ceding territory from Kali to Satluj to the British.

Bhakti Thapa fighting with Britishers


Treaty of Sugauli (Sagauli)

  • Signed on December 2, 1815, ratified by March 4, 1816 between Raja Guru Gaj Raj Mishra of Nepal and British army officer Lt. Col. Parish Bradshaw.
  • Territorial concessions to British India and British representative in Kathmandu established.
  • Gurkhas recruited for British military service leads to first Gurkha Battalion at Subathu.
  • Nepal lost the right to employ American or European employees.
  • Nepal lost about one-third of its territory, later some lands restored.



  • Treaty superseded in 1923, upgraded the British resident to an envoy.
  • Treaty with independent India in 1950 restored relations between independent countries.