Jung Bahadur Rana, GCB, GCSI (born Bir Narsingh Kunwar) was accused in 1846 of plotting with the junior queen to become prime minister, by putting the queen's son on the throne.[1] His original name was Bir Narsingh Kunwar but he was commonly known as Jang Bahadur, a name given to him by his maternal uncle Mathabar Singh Thapa.[2] [3]

Jung Bahadur Rana
Jung Bahadur Rana in 1887
8th Prime Minister of Nepal
Maharaja of Kaski and Lamjung
In office
15 September 1846 – 1 August 1856
MonarchsKing Rajendra
King Surendra
Preceded byFateh Jung Shah
Succeeded byBam Bahadur Kunwar
In office
28 June 1857 – 25 February 1877
MonarchKing Surendra
Preceded byBam Bahadur Kunwar
Succeeded byRanodip Singh Kunwar
Personal details
Born18 June 1817
Balkot, Arghakhanchi district, Kingdom of Nepal
Died25 February 1877(1877-02-25) (aged 59)
Patharghat, Rautahat, Kingdom of Nepal
Spouse(s)Nanda Kumari (second wife); Hiranya Garbha Devi (ninth wife)
ChildrenJagat Jung Rana, Lalit Rajeshwori Rajya Lakshmi Devi, Somgarva Divyeshwari Rajya Laxmi, Padma Jung Bahadur Rana, Badan Kumari, Jit Jung Rana
RelativesSee Kunwar family; see Thapa dynasty; see Rana dynasty

His mother Ganesh Kumari was the daughter of Kaji Nain Singh Thapa, brother of Mukhtiyar Bhimsen Thapa of the then prominent ruling Thapa dynasty.[4] During his lifetime, he eliminated the factional fighting at the court, removed his family's rivals like Pandes and Basnyats, introduced innovations in the bureaucracy and judiciary, and made efforts to modernize Nepal.[5] He is one of the important figures in Nepalese history. Some modern historians blame Jung Bahadur for setting up a dark period of Nepalese history, an oppressive dictatorship in Nepal that lasted 104 years. Other historians blame his nephews, the Shumsher Ranas, for the dark period.[3] Rana's rule is associated with tyranny, debauchery, economic exploitation and religious persecution.[6][7]

Early life and family




Jung Bahadur was born on June 18, 1817, in Balkot in southern Nepal, to Bal Narsingh Kunwar, a bodyguard of King Rana Bahadur Shah, and his second wife, Ganesh Kumari.[3]



Jung Bahadur was the descendant of Kaji Ranajit Kunwar[8] and Sardar Ram Krishna Kunwar, who were both prominent military figures under the rule of King Prithvi Narayan Shah.[9] He had familial connections to the Thapa dynasty of Mukhtiyar Bhimsen Thapa through his mother, Ganesh Kumari, and the aristocratic Pande family through his maternal grandmother Rana Kumari, who was the daughter of Kaji Ranajit Pande, a prominent royal courtier.[4]

Bal Narsingh saw Sher Bahadur Shah, the king's own half-brother, commit regicide in front of the court. In response, Bal Narsingh promptly executed Sher Bahadur. He received the hereditary position of Kaji as a reward for this action. Consequently, the court granted Bal Narsingh exclusive permission to possess weapons within its premises.

Ram Krishna Kunwar; Jung Bahadur's great-grandfather

Rana's mother, Ganesh Kumari, was the sister of Mathabarsingh Thapa. In 1833, Bal Narsingh moved to Dadeldhura in Western Nepal and enrolled Jung Bahadur in the military. When Bal Narsingh moved to Jumla in 1835, Jung Bahadur was already promoted to the rank of second lieutenant. In those days, the Thapas influenced the administration of Nepal. However, when Bhimsen Thapa was sacked in 1837, all of his relatives including Bal Narsingh and Jung Bahadur were also sacked from the service, and their properties seized. In search of work, Jung Bahadur went to Varanasi but returned to Terai after a brief period to work as a Mahout. He then went to Kathmandu in 1839 where his wife and infant son had already died.[8]


Jung Bahadur

In 1839, Jung Bahadur married the sister of Colonel Sanak Singh Shripali Tandon. Jung Bahadur acquired a dowry as a result of his marriage, which improved his financial situation. In 1840, King Rajendra travelled to Terai, and coincidentally, he was joined by Jung Bahadur. Jung Bahadur captivated the king with his audacious exhibition. The monarch expressed satisfaction with his performance and bestowed upon him the rank of captain. The Crown Prince then recruited Jung Bahadur as one of his personal protectors. According to legends, Jung Bahadur leaped into the Trishuli River while riding a horse, following the orders of the Prince.

After a while, Jung Bahadur was transferred from the prince's group back into the king's. There he was appointed a Kaji and sent to the office of Kumarichowk. There he got an opportunity to properly understand the financial transactions of Nepal.

Jung Bahadur was known to be ambitious. During those days, the youngest queen was the actual ruler of the country with the king only of a name. Gagan Singh Khawaas was closest to the queen. Jung Bahadur had managed to please the Queen, the Prince, and the Prime Minister with his diligent efforts. He also managed to influence Henry Lawrence and his wife Honoria Lawrence.

When Mathavar was still Prime Minister, a cousin of Jung Bahadur was sentenced to the death penalty. Jung Bahadur had requested Mathavir to convince the Queen to pardon his cousin but Mathavar denied it. This resulted in Jung Bahadur holding a grudge against him. Jung Bahadur befriended Pandit Bijayaraj who was the internal priest of the palace, and from him, he started to gain valuable information about the Durbar. He had also managed to befriend Gagan Singh Khawaas.

After assassinating Mathavar Singh, the queen gave Jung Bahadur the rank of General and included Gagan Singh in the council of ministers.

Kot massacre


The Kot massacre took place on 14 September 1846 when Jung Bahadur Rana and his brothers killed about 40 members of the Nepalese palace court including the Prime Minister, relative of the King, Chautariya Fateh Jung Shah, at the palace armory, the kot, of Kathmandu which rendered King Rajendra Bikram Shah and Surendra Bikram Shah powerless and started the Rana autocracy.

By 1850, Jung Bahadur had vanquished his main rivals, installed his own candidate on the throne, appointed his brothers and friends to significant positions, and made sure that he served as prime minister for all important administrative decisions.[8]

Prime Minister


After the Massacre, on 15 September the Queen appointed Jung Bahadur as the Prime Minister and the Commander-in-chief. After meeting with the Queen and the King, Jung Bahadur went to meet the resident at the British residency. There he informed the resident about the massacre and also convinced him that the new government would have good relationships with the British. On 23 September, all officers of military and bureaucracy were called upon to their respective offices within 10 days. Then, Jung Bahadur appointed his brothers and nephews to the highest ranks of the government.[8]

Bhandarkhal massacre


The Queen commanded Jung Bahadur to remove Prince Surendra from the rank and declare Ranendra as the new Prince but Jung Bahadur ignored it which resulted in the Queen holding a vendetta against him. A few people who had survived the Kot Massacre were secretly planning to take revenge on Jung Bahadur. The Queen secretly contacted them and conspired to assassinate Jung Bahadur. A plan was formed to assassinate Jung Bahadur in a gathering to be organized in the garden of Bhandarkhal situated at the eastern end of the palace.

Jung Bahadur had already placed his spies inside the palace to gather information about the Queen and the events in the palace. These spies were handed the duty of informing Jung Bahadur about the happenings in a secret manner. A certain Putali Nani whom Jung Bahadur had already taken on his side also worked inside the palace and she informed Jung Bahadur about the conspiracy.

After receiving a command from the Rawal Queen to come to Bhandarkhal, Jung Bahadur took his fully armed troops and headed towards the garden. Birdhwaj was given the duty to bring Jung Bahadur in time. When he reached the temple of Jor-Ganesh, he saw Jung Bahadur approaching with the troops. Sighting him, Jung Bahadur signaled Capt. Ranamehar and Ranamehar killed Birdhwaj Basnyat. The troops then marched towards Bhandarkhal where seeing Jung Bahadur approach fully armed with his troops, the conspirators started to flee. 23 people were killed in the massacre and 15 escaped.[9] The next day, all property was seized of those who had been involved in this massacre. Jung Bahadur then imprisoned the Queen. Jung Bahadur then called for a meeting of the Council in the name of King Rajendra and charged the Queen with trying to assassinate the Prince and the Prime Minister. Queen right's were taken away at the agreement of the council. The Queen asked Jung Bahadur to let her go to Benaras (Varanasi) with all her family which Jung Bahadur agreed to. The King went alongside the Queen.[8]

Battle of Alau


After the massacres of Kot and Bhandarkhal, the Thapas, Pandes, and other citizens had settled in Benaras. Similarly, some citizens had gone to settle in Nautanwa and Bettiah. Guru Prasad Shah of Palpa too had gone to live with the King of Bettiah. After knowing about the presence of the King and the Queen in Benaras, Guru Prasad went there and started to gather an army, planning to overthrow Jung Bahadur. After staying for about two months in Benaras, King Rajendra started to show interest in this conspiracy. The King met with Guru Prasad and assured him of his support for the plan. The King also provided some financial aid. After receiving support from the King, Guru Prasad started to organize the Nepalese people living outside the country. They started gathering people who had come in search of work and started training them.

Jung Bahadur Statue in Tundikhel, Kathmandu

Meanwhile, the spies in Benaras who were analyzing each step of the King were providing reports to Jung Bahadur every week. Understanding the activities going on in Benaras, Jung Bahadur called a meeting of the Council where he issued a charter mentioning, "Now we cannot obey the King, from now on we will work in accordance to the commands of Prime Minister Jung Bahadur," and sent it to Benaras. After receiving such a letter from Jung Bahadur, the King panicked and consulted with his new ministers as well as his Guru.

The Guru and others suggested the King send a letter to the Army mentioning that the troops shall assist the King, not the Prime Minister. The King put his stamp in the letter and sent it with Kumbhedan and Sewakram. They secretly reached Kathmandu and stayed in the house of one landowner of Killagal. The spies of Jung Bahadur captured them from the house and destroyed the house the next morning. A pistol and a letter were found with them. Immediately, they were imprisoned and after a few days they were hanged.

On 12 May 1847, Jung Bahadur gave a speech in Tudikhel. In it, he accused the King of attempted assassination of the Prince and the Prime Minister. The Council then decided to dethrone King Rajendra deeming him mentally ill, and on the same day Surendra was crowned as the new king of Nepal.

Hearing the news of the coronation of Surendra, Rajendra decided to take the responsibility of removing Jung Bahadur upon himself and declared himself the leader of the army. He then left Benaras. Rajendra then appointed Guru Prasad Shah as the Chief of the Army for the operation of removal of Jung Bahadur Rana from Nepal and started to accumulate weapons and training the troops. The training of the troops was done in the camp of the King of Bettiah who was a good ally of Rajendra. Along with this, some treasure and weapons were bought from secret groups in Benaras, Prayag, etc., and sent to Bettiah. The King of Bettiah also provided some arms and a few elephants. A plan to attack Nepal was made.

Antagonism from the Company forced Rajendra and his troops to enter Nepal. On 23 July, the troops reached to a village called Alau in Parsa and set a camp there. The number of troops available at Alau was around three thousand, a thousand less than the number at Betiah, due to many deserters who had fled mid-way.

One spy group of the Government of Nepal was keeping a close eye on the event of the rebel groups at Betiah. They sent the news to Jung Bahadur, immediately after which he sent a troop under the leadership of Sanak Singh Tandon to Alau. They were told to suppress the rebellions, arrest Rajendra and bring him to Kathmandu. On 27 July, the Gorakhnath Paltan reached and rested in a village called Simraungadh, not too far from Alau.

At dawn the next day the troops from Kathmandu started firing cannons at the camp. Great panic spread over the camp. Few armies from the King's side resisted and fought with Government forces. The former King too, for a certain period led his troops. Guru Prasad fled from the location. Around a hundred soldiers of the King were killed in the battle and the King was captured and brought to Kathmandu.

The battle of Alau was a decisive one between the forces of King and Jung Bahadur. The King lost significantly in the battle. The battle of Alau had helped Jung Bahadur strengthen his dictatorship. Rajendra was imprisoned in an old palace in Bhaktapur.[8]

Visit to Bisauli


Towards the end of 1848, a vicious battle waged between the British and the Sikhs in Punjab. After hearing the news, Jung Bahadur met with the Resident and assured him of the Nepal Government's support to the British. But the Governor-General rejected the proposal fearing the possibility of the Nepali troops changing sides with Sikhs. Jung Bahadur then decided to demonstrate his power to the English. He was passionate about hunting but after being the Prime Minister he had not found an opportunity to hunt. In 1848, Jung Bahadur planned to go to the Terai with a dual purpose, one for hunting and another to show off his power to the English. On 22 December, with the King and a large group alongside him, Jung Bahadur left Kathmandu. The group included thirty-two thousand soldiers on foot, fifty-two cannons, three hundred risalla and two hundred and fifty mules. After getting the information of this large force near its boundary, the Governor-General sent a message to the Resident asking him to figure out the reality of the matter.

The King and Jung Bahadur then camped in a village called Bisauli which was not too far from the territories of the company. But the spread of cholera and malaria, which started killing the soldiers forced them to return.[8]


Portrait by Bhajuman Chitrakar, 1849. Given to the East India Company by the sitter in 1850, in London. It later hung in the office of the Foreign Secretary until removed by Jack Straw, & allocated to the British Library, where it remains

After the Treaty of Sugauli, the British gained access to the internal matters of Nepal. Although the previous Prime Ministers of Nepal before him had somewhat resisted the Resident's involvement in the internal matters of Nepal, Jung Bahadur was of the strong opinion that neither the Resident nor the Governor-General ought to have any direct involvement in the matters of Nepal. He, therefore, wanted to establish a direct relationship between the Government of Nepal and the Queen and Prime Minister of Great Britain. He also had a keen interest in understanding the real power of the British. For these ends, he desired to travel to Great Britain.

Jung Bahadur expressed his desire to the then Resident, Col. Thorsby. Thorsby suggested Jung Bahadur to write a letter, which he did, and sent it to Calcutta. The Governor-General conveyed the message to Britain where they accepted the request and also asked them (Governor-General) to manage the necessary provisions, after which, James Broun-Ramsay, sent a letter of acceptance to Kathmandu. The visit was to be of diplomatic nature and Jung Bahadur was to visit as a Royal Ambassador.

After appointing his brother, Bam Bahadur Kunwar as an interim Prime Minister, and Badri Narsingh as the interim Commander-in Chief, on 15 January Jung Bahadur left Kathmandu to Calcutta. During his stay at Calcutta, he met with the Lord and Lady Dalhouse and participated in a royal program. He also went to visit the Jagannath Temple . On 7 April the Nepalese team left Calcutta in P & O Heddington.The ship reached the Suez Canal through Madras, Sri Lanka and Eden.

In Egypt, Jung Bahadur and the team visited Cairo and Alexandria, where he met with Abbas Helmi. On 15 May 1850, the team reached Southampton.

In Britain, Jung Bahadur met and discussed various topics with Sir John Hubhouse, the chairman of the Board of Trade, the Duke of Wellington and others. On 19 June, Jung Bahadur and Queen Victoria met at a program organized in the Royal Palace. Jung Bahadur also visited the Parliament and closely observed the workings of the House of Commons and the British system. He visited the ministers and dukes and in one such meeting he proposed a direct relationship between the British and Nepalese, which the British Government rejected.

In Scotland, he was welcomed by William Johnston (Lord Provost). There, he visited various forts and industries.

On 21 August 1850, Jung Bahadur and the team departed towards France. There he met with the then President of France. In France too, he expressed his desire to establish a direct relationship between Nepal and France, but the French President insisted on forming the relationship through the British Embassy, as there was no diplomatic relationship between the two countries. Jung Bahadur and the team stayed at France for about six weeks. On 3 October they departed from Paris and on 6 November reached Bombay.

In India, he married an Indian girl.[8]

During his visits, he unsuccessfully tried to deal directly with the British government. The main outcome, however, of the tour was a positive development in British-Nepal relationship. Recognizing the power of industrialized Europe, he became convinced that close co-operation with the British was the best way to guarantee Nepal's independence.

On 29 January 1851, Jung Bahadur returned to Nepal.

Muluki Ain


Jung Bahadur was impressed by the rule of law, the parliament and the democratic system in Britain. In Nepal, there were no written Acts. Different types of punishment were given to similar kinds of criminal acts. Realizing that the prevalent system would not be beneficial in the long run in Nepal, Jung Bahadur established a Kausal Adda in order to work on establishing Acts. Selecting around two hundred members for the Adda, Jung Bahadur commanded them to draft legal codes as soon as possible.

The adda began its work by carefully studying the tradition, castes, race, class as well as religious situation of Nepal. Some members also studied the Hindu Ain being used in the courts of the English in the Company. After three years of vigorous research, a detailed Act was prepared. This Act included the workings of court, system of punishment, and different administrative sections. They however, could not address the issue of caste inequality as a progressive policy on such could have resulted in protests and turmoil in Nepalese society.

On 6 January 1854, the Muluki Ain was enacted in Nepal. This Act cleared confusions concerning religious laws. The decisions on cases happened on time.

Jung Bahadur, with the Muluki Ain, formed the base of modern law in Nepal.[8]

Foreign relations

Maharaja Jung Bahadur at London in 1850

Nepal began to experience some success in international affairs during the reign of Jung Bahadur Rana.

Begum Hazrat Mahal of Awadh took refuge in Kathmandu with her 10-year-old son Birjis Qadr in 1859 with some other loyal staff. The then Prime Minister of Nepal, Jung Bahadur Rana, gave her shelter at the palace in Thapathali (which now houses an office of the Nepal Rastra Bank, Thapathali Durbar) according to Samim Miya Ansari. Jung Bahadur Rana took the step despite being on good terms with the British at the time.

The Sikh empire's last regent Maharani Jind Kaur was also given asylum in Nepal by Jung Bahadur after she escaped from a British Prison to reach Kathmandu. A brand new residence Chaburja Darbar was built and an allowance was set for her by the Nepalese government. The British Resident in Kathmandu kept an eye on her, believing that she was still planning to revive the Sikh dynasty. She lived in Nepal for 11 years.

In 1850, Jung Bahadur visited Europe to establish direct diplomatic relations with the British government, albeit unsuccessfully. This tour diplomatically strengthened Nepal and ensured its territorial integrity as he met influential figures such as Queen Victoria and the President of France. The main outcome of the tour was a positive development in Anglo-Nepalese relations.

Rana Dynasty


In 1858, King Surendra of Nepal bestowed upon Jung Bahadur Kunwar the honorific title of Rana, an old title denoting martial glory used by Rajput princes in northern India.[a] He then became Jung Bahadur Rana, and the later prime ministers descended from his family added his name to their own in honour of his accomplishments. The Rana dynasty ruled Nepal from 1848 till 1951. They are historically known for their iron fisted rule. Jung Bahadur remained prime minister until 1877, suppressing conspiracies and local revolts and enjoying the fruits of his early successes.

Honours and titles



  • 1817–1835: Jung Bahadur Kunwar
  • 1835–1840: Second Lieutenant Jung Bahadur Kunwar
  • 1840–1841: Captain Jung Bahadur Kunwar
  • 1841–1845: Kaji Captain Jung Bahadur Kunwar
  • 1845–1848: Kaji Major-General Jung Bahadur Kunwar
  • 1848–1856: Kaji Major-General Jung Bahadur Kunwar Rana
  • 1856–1857: Kaji Commanding-General Jung Bahadur Kunwar Rana, Maharaja of Lamjang and Kaski
  • 1857–1858: His Highness Commanding-General Shree Shree Shree Maharaja Jung Bahadur Kunwar Rana, Maharajah of Lamjang and Kaski
  • 1858–1872: His Highness Commanding-General Shree Shree Shree Maharaja Sir Jung Bahadur Kunwar Rana, Maharaja of Lamjang and Kaski, GCB
  • 1872–1873: His Highness Commanding-General Shree Shree Shree Maharaja Sir Jung Bahadur Kunwar Rana, T'ung-ling-ping-ma-Kuo-Kang-wang, Maharaja of Lamjang and Kaski, GCB
  • 1873–1877: His Highness Commanding-General Shree Shree Shree Maharaja Sir Jung Bahadur Kunwar Rana, T'ung-ling-ping-ma-Kuo-Kang-wang, Maharaja of Lamjang and Kaski, Shree Tin Maharajah of Nepal, GCB, GCSI




Ancestors of Jung Bahadur Rana
16. Ahirama Kunwar
8. Ram Krishna Kunwar
4. Ranajit Kunwar
2. Bal Narsingh Kunwar
1. Jung Bahadur Kunwar / Rana
24. Bir Bhadra Thapa
12. Amar Singh Thapa (sanukaji)
6. Nain Singh Thapa
13. Satyarupa Maya
3. Ganesh Kumari Thapa
28. Tularam Pande
14. Ranajit Pande
7. Rana Kumari Pande

Film depictions

  • Basanti (2000 film), where he was portrayed by Neeraj Thapa
  • Seto Bagh, where he was portrayed by Bedendra Shamsher Jang Bahadur Rana popularly known as B.S. Rana




  1. ^ He was not actually a Rajput – the claim is considered to be fictitious.[10]


  1. ^ Neupane, Poonam (5 November 2019). "Best Explanation Biography & Facts About Jung Bahadur Rana You Have Ever Read". ImNepal. Archived from the original on 8 August 2020. Retrieved 19 November 2019.
  2. ^ Gartoula, Gopal. "Jung Bahadur's destitute descendants". Archived from the original on 4 January 2022. Retrieved 4 January 2022.
  3. ^ a b c Rana, Purushottam S.J.B. (1998). Jung Bahadur Rana: the story of his rise and glory. Book Faith India. p. 150. ISBN 81-7303-087-1.
  4. ^ a b JBR, PurushottamShamsher (1990). Shree Teen Haruko Tathya Britanta (in Nepali). Bhotahity, Kathmandu: Vidarthi Pustak Bhandar. ISBN 99933-39-91-1.
  5. ^ Manjushree Thapa (2013). Forget Kathmandu. New Delhi: Aleph Book Company. p. 302. ISBN 978-9382277002.
  6. ^ Dietrich, Angela (1996). "Buddhist Monks and Rana Rulers: A History of Persecution". Buddhist Himalaya: A Journal of Nagarjuna Institute of Exact Methods. Archived from the original on 1 October 2013. Retrieved 17 September 2013.
  7. ^ Lal, C. K. (16 February 2001). "The Rana resonance". Nepali Times. Archived from the original on 28 September 2013. Retrieved 17 September 2013.
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h i Rana, Pramod Shumsher (2009). Ranashasanko Britanta. Kathmandu: Pairavi Book House. pp. 31, 32, 44. ISBN 978-11146-30-72-7.
  9. ^ a b Jung, Padma (1909). Life of Maharaja Sir Jung Bahadur Rana. Allahabad. p. 88.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: location missing publisher (link)
  10. ^ Bista, Dor Bahadur (1991). Fatalism and Development: Nepal's Struggle for Modernization. Orient Blackswan. p. 37. ISBN 978-8-12500-188-1. Archived from the original on 3 June 2023. Retrieved 30 April 2021.



Further reading

Jung Bahadur Rana
Born: 18 June 1817 Died: 25 February 1877
Regnal titles
Preceded by
New creation
Maharaja of Lamjang and Kaski
Succeeded by