Shah dynasty

The Shah dynasty (Nepali: शाह वंश), also known as the Shahs of Gorkha or the Royal House of Gorkha, was the ruling Chaubise Thakuri dynasty from the Indian subcontinent;[1] and derived from the Gorkha Kingdom from 1559 to 1768 and later the unified Kingdom of Nepal from 1768 to 28 May 2008.

Shah Dynasty
शाह वंश

House of Shah/Royal House of Gorkha
Royal House
Coat of Arms of Shah dynasty.gif
Founded15th century
FounderKulamandan Shah Khad
Current headGyanendra Bir Bikram Shah
Final rulerGyanendra Bir Bikram Shah
Style(s)Shree Paanch Maharajadhiraja
Bidya Mai Chha Maha Shakti; Karma Mai Chha Supujan

(Great power lies in knowledge; Better worship lies in action)
Estate(s)Kingdom of Nepal
Deposition28 May 2008
Cadet branchesChautariya families

The Shah dynasty traces their historical ancestor to King of Kaski, Kulamandan Shah Khand, whose grandson Dravya Shah captured the throne of Gorkha from Khadka kings with the help of accomplices from six resident clans of Gorkha to become the King of Gorkha.


The Shah descendants claimed to be of Rajput origin.[1] However, they are ranked as Thakuris.[2] He argues that:

The family of Gorkha which now governs Nepal, although it pretends to come from Chittor, according to Sadhu Ram[note 1], a good authority, is, in reality, of the Magar tribe; and, at any rate, these people are now firmly attached to its interests, by having largely shared in the sweets of conquest; and by far the greatest part of the regular troops of that family is composed of this nation.

— An account of the Kingdom of Nepal[4]

He further contended on Shah family that:

The family pretends to be of the Pamar tribe; but it is alleged, as I have already explained, that this is a mere fable, and that, on the arrival of the colony from Chitaur, this family were Magars.

— An account of the Kingdom of Nepal[5]

Coronation of Dravya ShahEdit

Dravya Shah was the youngest son of Yasho Brahma Shah, Raja (King) of Lamjung and grandson of Kulamandan Shah Khad, Raja (King) of Kaski.[6] He became the king of Gorkha with the help of accomplices namely Kaji Ganesh Pandey. He ascended the throne of Gorkha on 1559 A.D. 19th century writer Daniel Wright describes the coronation of Dravya Shah as:

On Wednesday the 8th of Bhadon Badi, Saka 1481 (A.D. 1559) Rohini Nakshatra (i.e. the moon in the Rohini mansion) being an auspicious day, Drabya Shah aided by Bhagirath Panth, Ganesa Pande, Gangaram Rana, Busal Arjyal, Khanal Bohra and Murli Khawas of Gorkha, concealed himself in a hut. Ganesa Pande had collected all the people of who wore the brahmanical thread such as the Thapas, Busals, Ranas and Maski Ranas of the Magar tribe, they went by the Dahya Gauda route and the Durbar. Drabya Shah killed the Khadka, Raja[note 2] his own hand, with a sword, during the battle ensued. At the same auspicious moment Drabya took his seat on the gaddi, amidst the clash music.

— History of Nepal[6]

Previously, the local Ghale people had chosen their king from the winners of an annual running race. Dravya Shah was not a physically robust man but he cheated his way to the win. He was backed by the Bhattarai, Aryal, Adhikari, Pant and Acharya clans who were Jaisi Brahmin. By 1570, when Dravya Shah died, the running race was but a memory among the people. Dravya Shah used the army of the Magar (an ancient tribe of Nepal) to invade neighboring states and his successors continued this aggression to increase the territory belonging to Gorkha. Kaji Ganesh Pande was his first minister of Gorkha.[citation needed]

Absolute monarchy (1768–1846)Edit

King Prithvi Narayan Shah, the last king of Gorkha Kingdom (1743-1768) and the first Shah king of Nepal (1768-1775)

In 1743, Prithvi Narayan Shah became the ruler of Gorkha. He declared war with other principalities, defeating them one by one. In September 1768, he established the unified kingdom of Gorkha. He became the first king of large Gorkha Kingdom. He, his sons and their successors continued fighting and defeating other kingdoms and enlarging the kingdom of Gorkha. In 1814, the Anglo–Nepalese War between Gorkha and the East India Company began. By 1815, the Shah king had been thoroughly defeated. By 1816, Gorkha had lost one-third of its territory. The Shah kings continued to rule as an absolute monarch until 1846 when the political order changed from absolute monarchy to a constitutional monarchy.

Hereditary prime ministers (1846–1951)Edit

In 1846, the Rana dynasty gained power in Nepal. The Ranas became prime ministers and reduced the King's status to a figurehead position. The Ranas ruled Nepal as hereditary prime ministers though in the name of the figurehead king. In 1950, the Shah king King Tribhuvan was forced into exile in India. He and his family, including the crown prince Mahendra, were saved. After India became a secular state in 1950, and the remaining rajas retired, Nepal was the only remaining Hindu kingdom. In 1951, with the help of India, a popular politician common man Matrika Prasad Koirala became the prime minister of Nepal. Tribhuvan returned to Kathmandu. The Shah dynasty regained control and the prime minister, Mohan Shamsher Jang Bahadur Rana, resigned. King Tribhuvan ruled until 1955 and King Mahendra ruled until 1972. Mahendra's son, Birendra, became king.

Constitutional monarchy (1990–2008)Edit

King Birendra Bir Bikram Shah; the first constitutional monarch of Nepal

In 1990, under King Birendra, Nepal became a constitutional monarchy after a mass move movement from people forced Birendra Shah to restore democracy.[7]

Massacre of the royal familyEdit

On 1 June 2001, a number of members of the Shah dynasty were murdered in the royal palace. A High Commission report concluded that the royal family was slaughtered by Crown Prince Dipendra. This remains controversial.[8] Among the dead were the Crown Prince's father, King Birendra and his brother, Prince Nirajan. After the attack, Dipendra was in a coma and was declared king for a short time. He died a few days later. Gyanendra Bir Bikram Shah Dev, Dipendra's uncle, took the throne. In February 2005, he dismissed the parliament in order to govern in his own right.

Abolition of the Shah monarchyEdit

On 24 December 2007, Nepal’s Provisional Parliament met. It was decided that the monarchy would be abolished in 2008 after the Constituent Assembly elections.[9] The motion enjoyed overwhelming support in the chamber, passing by a 270 vote majority. Of the 329 sitting members of parliament, only three voted against abolishing the monarchy.[10] It was decided that for the time being, Gyanendra would retain his title and continue residing in the Royal Palace, albeit stripped of all political power and authority.[10]

On 28 May 2008, following scheduled elections, the 1st Nepalese Constituent Assembly declared Nepal a Federal Democratic Republic and the monarchy was abolished, removing the Shah dynasty from power. Kul Bahadur Gurung said of the 601 member assembly, 560 voted in favour, 4 were against and 37 were absent or abstained.[citation needed] Following an Assemby agreement involving the Nepali Congress and both Nepalese Communist parties, (the Leninists and the much larger Maoists faction), Gyanendra stepped down.[citation needed]

Gyanendra vacated the palace in Kathmandu which later became a museum. Until they could find permanent accommodation, the royal couple were offered residence as commoners at the Nagarjuna Palace, a former royal summer residence. The Nagarjuna palace lies in forested hills about eight kilometres (five miles) northwest of Kathmandu.[citation needed]

Monarchs of Shah dynasty (1559–2008)Edit

Monarchs of Shah dynasty of Gorkha (1559–1768)Edit

The following is list of all ten kings of Gorkha hill principality.[citation needed]

NameLifespanReign startReign endNotesFamilyImage
Dravya Shah
  • राजा द्रव्य शाह
died 157015591570Son of Yasho Brahma ShahShah
Purna Shah/Purendra Shah
  • पूर्ण शाह/ पूरेन्द्र शाह
died 160515701605Son of Dravya ShahShah
Chatra Shah
  • छत्र शाह
died 1609 (heirless)16051609First son of Purendra/Purna ShahShah
Ram Shah
  • Ram Shah The Just
  • श्रीमन्त महाराजधिराज राम शाह
died 163616091633 (abdicated)Second son of Purna/Purendra Shah
adopted title of Svasti Sri Giriraj
Dambar Shah
  • डम्वर शाह
died 164516331645Son of Ram ShahShah
Krishna Shah
  • श्रीकृष्ण शाह
died 166116451661Son of Dambar ShahShah
Rudra Shah
  • रुद्र शाह
died 167316611673Son of Krishna ShahShah
Prithvipati Shah
  • पृथ्वीपत्ति शाह
died 171616731716Son of Rudra ShahShah
Nara Bhupal Shah
  • नरभूपाल शाह
1697 – 3 April 174317161743Grandson of Prithvipati Shah and Son of Prince Birbhadra ShahShah
Prithvi Narayan Shah
  • बडामहाराजधिराज पृथ्वीनारायण शाह
(1723-01-07)7 January 1723[citation needed] – 11 January 1775(1775-01-11) (aged 52)174325 September 1768Son of Nara Bhupal ShahShah 

Monarchs of Shah dynasty of Patan (1761–1765)Edit

NameLifespanReign startReign endNotesFamilyImage
Dal Mardan Shah
  • राजा दल मर्दन शाह
?—?17611765Son of Nara Bhupal ShahShah

Monarchs of Shah dynasty of Nepal (1768–2008)Edit

NameLifespanReign startReign endNotesFamilyImage
Prithvi Narayan Shah
  • बडामहाराजधिराज पृथ्वीनारायण शाह
(1723-01-07)7 January 1723[11]– 11 January 1775(1775-01-11) (aged 52)25 September 176811 January 1775Son of Nara Bhupal ShahShah 
Pratap Singh Shah
  • प्रतापसिंह शाह
(1751-04-16)16 April 1751 – 17 November 1777(1777-11-17) (aged 26)11 January 177517 November 1777Son of Prithvi Narayan ShahShah 
Rana Bahadur Shah
  • रण बहादुर शाह
(1775-05-25)25 May 1775 – 25 April 1806(1806-04-25) (aged 30)17 November 17778 March 1799
Son of Pratap Singh ShahShah 
Girvan Yuddha Bikram Shah
  • गीर्वाणयुद्ध विक्रम शाह
(1797-10-19)19 October 1797 – 20 November 1816(1816-11-20) (aged 19)8 March 179920 November 1816Son of Rana Bahadur ShahShah
Rajendra Bikram Shah
  • राजेन्द्र बिक्रम शाह
(1813-12-03)3 December 1813 – 10 July 1881(1881-07-10) (aged 67)20 November 181612 May 1847
Son of Girvan Yuddha Bikram ShahShah 
Surendra Bikram Shah
  • सुरेन्द्र बिक्रम शाह
(1829-10-20)20 October 1829 – 17 May 1881(1881-05-17) (aged 51)12 May 184717 May 1881Son of Rajendra Bikram ShahShah 
Prithvi Bir Bikram Shah
  • पृथ्वी वीर बिक्रम शाह
(1875-08-18)18 August 1875 – 11 December 1911(1911-12-11) (aged 36)17 May 188111 December 1911Grandson of Surendra Bikram ShahShah 
Tribhuvan Bir Bikram Shah
(1st reign)
  • त्रिभुवन वीर बिक्रम शाह
(1900-06-30)30 June 1900 – 13 March 1955(1955-03-13) (aged 54)11 December 19117 November 1950
(went into exile)
Son of Prithvi Bir Bikram ShahShah 
Gyanendra Bir Bikram Shah
(1st reign)
  • ज्ञानेन्द्र वीर बिक्रम शाह
(1946-07-07) 7 July 1946 (age 75)7 November 19507 January 1951
(stepped down)
Grandson of Tribhuvan Bir Bikram ShahShah
Tribhuvan Bir Bikram Shah
(2nd reign)
  • त्रिभुवन वीर बिक्रम शाह
(1900-06-30)30 June 1900 – 13 March 1955(1955-03-13) (aged 54)7 January 195113 March 1955Son of Prithvi Bir Bikram ShahShah 
Mahendra Bir Bikram Shah
  • महेन्द्र वीर बिक्रम शाह
(1920-06-11)11 June 1920 – 31 January 1972(1972-01-31) (aged 51)14 March 195531 January 1972Son of Tribhuvan Bir Bikram ShahShah 
Birendra Bir Bikram Shah
  • वीरेन्द्र वीर बिक्रम शाह
(1944-12-28)28 December 1944 – 1 June 2001(2001-06-01) (aged 56)31 January 19721 June 2001
Son of Mahendra Bir Bikram ShahShah 
Dipendra Bir Bikram Shah
  • दीपेन्द्र वीर बिक्रम शाह
(1971-06-27)27 June 1971 – 4 June 2001(2001-06-04) (aged 29)1 June 20014 June 2001
(declared braindead)
Son of Birendra Bir Bikram ShahShah 
Gyanendra Bir Bikram Shah
(2nd reign)
  • ज्ञानेन्द्र वीर बिक्रम शाह
(1946-07-07) 7 July 1946 (age 75)4 June 200128 May 2008
Son of Mahendra Bir Bikram ShahShah

Paternal roots of Shah dynastyEdit

Family tree of the all Shah kings of Nepal (not of previous Gorkha Kingdom) except Gyanendra Bir Bikram Shah, brother of King Birendra Bir Bikram Shah:

Prithvi Narayan ShahNarendra Rajya Lakshmi Devi
Pratap Singh ShahRajendra Rajya Lakshmi Devi
Rana Bahadur ShahKantavati Devi
(Maithil Brahmin)
Girvan Yuddha Bikram ShahGorakshya Rajya Lakshmi Devi
Rajendra Bikram ShahSamrajya Lakshmi Devi
Surendra Bikram ShahTrailokya Rajya Lakshmi Devi
Trailokya, Crown Prince of Nepal (died as prince)Lalit Rajeshwari Rajya Lakshmi Devi
Prithvi Bir Bikram ShahDivyeshwari Rajya Lakshmi Devi
Tribhuvan Bir Bikram ShahKanti Rajya Lakshmi Devi
Mahendra Bir Bikram ShahIndra Rajya Lakshmi Devi
Birendra Bir Bikram ShahAishwarya Rajya Lakshmi Devi
Dipendra Bir Bikram Shah

See alsoEdit



  1. ^ As per Francis Buchanan-Hamilton, Sadhu Ram Upadhyaya was a Brahmin belonging to the family of hereditary Purohits (royal priests) of Kingdom of Palpa.[3]
  2. ^ Khadka Raja belonged to Khas tribe.[6]


  1. ^ a b Karl J. Schmidt (20 May 2015). An Atlas and Survey of South Asian History. Routledge. pp. 138–. ISBN 978-1-317-47681-8.
  2. ^ Dharam Vir (1988). Education and Polity in Nepal: An Asian Experiment. Northern Book Centre. pp. 56–57. ISBN 978-81-85119-39-7.
  3. ^ Hamilton 1819, p. 4.
  4. ^ Hamilton 1819, p. 26.
  5. ^ Hamilton 1819, p. 240.
  6. ^ a b c Wright 1877, p. 278.
  7. ^ "Nepal king bows to protests: From the archive: April 9, 1990". 9 April 2015.
  8. ^ "Nepal royal massacre: 'Eyewitness' claims Dipendra innocent". timesofindia. Retrieved 23 July 2008.
  9. ^ "Nepalese monarchy to be abolished." BBC 24 December 2007 Accessed 25 December 2007.
  10. ^ a b Sharma, Gopal, “Nepal parliament votes to end monarchy”, Reuters, (December 28, 2007). Retrieved March 9, 2021.
  11. ^ Acharya, Baburam. Shree Panch BadaMaharajdhiraj Prithivi Narayan Shah ko Sanxipta Jiwani, Part I (in Nepali). p. 42.
  12. ^ Chaudhari, K.C (1960). Anglo-Nepalese Relation. Calcutta: Modern Book Agency Private Ltd.
  13. ^ राणा, प्रमोदशमशेर (2009). राणाशासनको वृत्तान्त. Kathmandu: Pairavi Book House. p. 3. ISBN 978-11146-30-72-7.


External linksEdit

  • Royal Court of Nepal Nepalese government website.
  • Gregson J. "Massacre at the palace; the doomed royal dynasty of Nepal." 2002.