Nepal’s Naya Muluk and the Gurkha Regiments
Lest History Forgets
Foreword: Sepoy Mutiny of 1857 and Naya Muluk
Winston Churchill is supposed to have said, ‘History is a record of the victors. History would be kind to me for I intend to write one.’ Nepalese history records that Naya Muluk, the present districts of Kanchanpur, Kailali, Bardiya and Banke, was returned to the Maharaja of Nepal by the British Government for the services rendered by the State of Nepal during the Mutiny of the Native Army of Bengal in 1857, known as the Sepoy Mutiny. The transcript given below of the ‘Treaty with Nipal – November 1, 1860’ does bear testimony that ‘the whole of the lowlands between the Rivers Kali and Raptee, and the whole of the lowlands lying between the River Raptee and the District of Gorukpore’ was bestowed to the ‘Maharajah of Nipal in full sovereignty … in recognition of the eminent services rendered to the British Government by the State of Nipal … during the disturbances which followed the mutiny of the Native army of Bengal in 1857.’
May 10, 1857 the Sepoys of the East India Company mutinied at
Rajgurh Convention of 1815: Gurkhas in East India Company: Dawn of Lahure Era
Article 5 of the ‘Convention of Agreement entered into between Kajee Ummer Sing Thappa and Major General Ochterlony’ on the 15th of May 1815 at Rajgurh states: ‘All the troops in the service of Nepaul, with the exception of those granted to the personal honor of the Kajees Ummer Singh and Ranjore Singh, will be at liberty to enter into the service of the British Government, if it is agreeable to themselves and the British Government choose to accept their services, and those who are not employed will be maintained on a specific allowance by the British Government, till peace is concluded between the two States.’ Impressed by the skill, tenacity and courage of the Gurkhas during the Anglo-Nepal war of 1814 – 1815, the British inserted this important clause in the Convention of Rajgurh that would have far reaching implications in the Anglo-Nepal relationship. It will be pertinent to point out here that Kazi Amar Singh, in signing that Rajgurh convention, inserted a separate article in the end stating ‘Kajee Ummer Singh Thapa wishes it to be understood that he shall give immediate orders for the instant surrender of the distant forts, in the hope that it may lead to an early renewal of the relations of amity which have subsisted between the two States for these sixty years, and by the advice of Bum Sah and the Bharadars of Kamaon.’ The Kazi had hoped in the ‘early renewal of the relations of amity’ and also envisaged that ‘peace is concluded between the two States.’ The delay by the intrigue-ridden Kathmandu durbar in signing the peace accord led General Ochterlony to launch his second offensive against Nepal. When the Makwanpur gadhi close to Kathmandu fell, Nepal was forced to eat the humble pie. The Sugauli Treaty down-sized the Gurkha Empire of Sutluj-Teesta to Mechi-Mahakali of present day.
A much disillusioned Kazi Amar Singh Thapa, unhappy with Durbar intrigues, died at Gosaikund on 29th July 1816. Senior commanders like Bal Bhadra refused to join the British, against whom they had fought. Unhappy with their own country’s intrigue-filled Durbar, Bal Bhadra and many veterans like him opted to join the Khalsa army of Punjab’s Ranjit Singh. A memorial put up by the British stands, to this day, derelict at Kalunga/Dehradun: ‘In tribute to our gallant adversary Bulbuddr, Commander of the fort and his brave Gorkhas who were afterwards while in service of Ranjit Singh, shot down in their ranks to the last man by Afghan Artillery.’ This was at Yusufijei in Afghanistan in 1823.
1857 – The Three Malaun, Sirmoor and Kumaon Gurkha Regiments:
At the time the Sepoy Mutiny broke out in May 1857 at Meerut, the East India Company had three Gurkha Regiments: i) the Nusseree, raised at Malaun near Subathoo that became the 1st Gurkha Rifles – the Malaun Regiment ii) the Sirmoor, raised at Nahan in Sirmoor that became the 2nd Gurkha Rifles – the Sirmoor Regiment and iii) the Kumaon, raised at Almorah in Kumaon that became the 3rd Gurkha Rilfes – the Kumaon Regiment. British and Indian records indicate that all these three regiments were raised on the same day of April 24, 1815. Records also indicate that the British utilized the services of the Gurkhas in various other units as well like the 1817-raised Infantry Levy at Fatehgarh (root of 9th Gurkha Regiment) and the 1824-raised 16 Sylhet Local Battalion (root lineage of 8th Gurkha Regiment). The astute British used these Gurkha regiments, particularly the Malaun and Sirmoor regiments, against the Jats in 1826 at Bharatpore and against the Sikhs at Aliwal and Sobroan in 1846. The regimental centre of Nusseree was at Dharamsala, of Sirmoor at Dehradun and of Kumaon at Almorah.
Sirmoor Regiment during 1857 Sepoy Mutiny: From Dehradun to Delhi Ridge
the Sepoy Mutiny broke out on May 10, 1857, the Dehradun-based Sirmoor regiment
received orders on May 14, 1857 to march to Meerut. The 490-strong Sirmoor,
under Major Reid’s command, marched out four hours after receipt of orders with
just what they carried on their backs, sixty rounds of ammunition each in
pouches, and two elephants with spare ammunition. The British, in April 1854,
had just brought into operation the massive Ganges Canal they had built for
irrigation purposes. The innovative British used that canal to transport the
Sirmoor Gurkhas on a fleet of forty five boats to reach Nanoo, the point
nearest to Meerut, on May 18. As the mutineers had already left Meerut for
Delhi, the Sirmoor again received orders to march on to Bulandshahr which was
reached only on May 24 with great difficulties. The regiment then moved on to
Hindun river near
Hindoo Rao’s House on Delhi Ridge during the Great Siege of Delhi:
Rao’s House on the Ridge was the key position the British took up before
Sirmoor’s losses of 327 dead from the strength of 490 meant an
incredible loss of 66.7%. Records do indicate that the Kumaon Regiment was used
during the great
Notes from Sirmoor’s Regimental History:
The regimental history of Sirmoor Rifles noted that the following Gurkha officers were wounded during the Great Siege of Delhi: i) Subahdar Inderbir Lama – 8th June ii) Subahdar Govindo Mahara – 23rd June iii) Subahdar Oojeri Kandari – 26th June iv) Subahdar Rutton Newar – 30th June iv) Subahdar Sing Bir Thappa – 9th July and v) Subahdar Makanda Basniath -14th September. Due note must be taken that the then Sirmoor Regiment had a good mixture of Thapa, Basnet, Newar, Kandari (Bhandari?), Mahara and Lama – that inclusiveness mantra, one hears so much these days. It was not the exclusive domain of the Magars and Gurungs that the British later made. The regimental history also mentioned that the under-mentioned individuals were awarded the Order of Merit:
Jemadar Badal Thapa, advanced to the 2nd Class
Havildar Ransur Lama, awarded 3rd Class Order of Merit
Havildar Ransur Thapa, awarded 3rd Class Order of Merit
Naik Surbir Rana, awarded 3rd Class Order of Merit
Seventeen Riflemen were awarded 3rd Class Order of Merit while by General Order of 21st June 1857, at Major Reid’s recommendation, Subahdar Singbir Thapa was appointed a member to the 1st Class of the Order of British India with title of ‘Sardar Bahadur’ and Subahdar Jokkoo a member of the 2nd Class of the same Order with the title of ‘Bahadur’. The regimental history also mentioned that Commander-in-Chief Sir Hugh Rose during the inspection of Sirmoor Regiment at Kalunga Hill on 23rd April 1863 met the Gurkha officers. Among them was Subahdar-Major Sing Bir Thapa ‘one of the first lot enlisted for the Sirmoor Battalion in 1815 and had been one of the garrison of Fort Kalunga which, under Balbadr Sing with 700 Goorkhas, held out against the English in October and November 1814, and finally evacuated it, the remnant of the force, some eighty men only under their leader, cutting their way out through our cordon and escaping.’
Final Word: Lest We Forget!
Recognizing the services of the Gurkhas, the British quickly raised two more Gurkha regiments during the Sepoy Mutiny: 4th Gurkha Rifles as 33 Extra Gurkha Regiment in1857 at Pithoragarh and 5th Gurkha Rifles as 25th Punjab Infantry or Hazara Gurkha Battalion on May 22, 1858 at Abbotabad. History must acknowledge the services rendered by these Gurkha regiments in the return of Naya Muluk to Nepal by the British. Junga Bahadur’s crucial decision to assist the British during their hour of need undoubtedly played a major role. Though Jung’s Lucknow loot exploits are well documented in Nepalese history, there is no mention at all, none in fact, of the heavy sacrifices made by the three Gurkha Regiments, in particular the Sirmoor Regiment, during the 1857 Mutiny. When Nepal’s first six regiments headed for India on 3rd July 1857, the Sirmoor Regiment was already entrenched at Hindoo Rao’s House on the Delhi Ridge since the 8th of June 1857. When Junga Bahadur himself led the 8,000 strong Nepalese army in December 1857, the British had already captured Delhi on September 14, 1857, with over two-thirds of the Gurkhas in the Sirmoor Regiment dead. Some British Generals now indicate that if the Hindoo Rao’s House on the Delhi Ridge held by the Gurkhas had fallen into the Mutineers’ hands, then the ‘jewel of the British Empire’ could have slipped out of British hands. The capture of Delhi’s Hindoo Rao’s House by the mutineers would have boosted the morale of mutineers elsewhere and at the same time demoralized the forces loyal to the British Raj. In General Sir Francis Tuker’s own words: ‘If the Main Piquet had fallen, the Ridge would have gone, and, as likely as not, the Bombay and Madras armies and the Punjab would have blown into blazes….. The Main Piquet at Delhi stood firm for more than the people of Britain realized in 1857 or, even now, in 1957.’
The final point to note is that, immediately after the territorial grant of ‘Naya Muluk’ to Nepal in November 1860, the shrewd Junga Bahadur in 1861 connived to have King Surendra assign the whole district of Bardiya as Birta to himself and his brothers. Jung had the Bardiya Birta divided in true Rana style: fifty percent to himself as Prime Minister and the remaining to all his other brothers! Such has been the travesty of Nepalese politics to this day. It is the rulers who have the final say – be it in writing the nation’s history or in harvesting the nation’s loaves and fishes! Lest we forget, it is time that Nepalese history recognizes the sacrifices made by her ‘sons of the soil’ during the 1857 Sepoy Mutiny that was instrumental in the territorial grant of Naya Muluk to Nepal - the whole of the lowlands between the Rivers Kali and Raptee, and the whole of the lowlands lying between the River Raptee and the District of Gorukpore!
Treaty with Nipal – November 1, 1860
During the disturbances which followed
the mutiny of the Native army of Bengal in 1857, the Maharajah of NIpal not
only faithfully maintained the relations of peace and friendship established
between the British Government and the State of Nipal by the Treaty of
Segowlee, but freely placed troops at the disposal of the British authorities
for the preservation of order in the Frontier Districts, and subsequently sent
a force to co-operate with the British Army in the recapture of Lucknow and the
final defeat of the rebels. On the conclusion of these operations, the Viceroy
and Governor-General in recognition of the eminent services rendered to the
British Government by the State of Nipal, declared his intention to restore to
the Maharajah the whole of the low lands lying between the River Kali and the
District of Gorukpore, which belonged to the State of Nipal in 1815, and were
ceded to the British Government in that year by the aforesaid Treaty. These
lands have now been identified by Commissioners appointed for the purpose by
the British Government in the presence of Commissioners deputed by the Nipal
Darbar; masonry pillars have been erected to mark the future boundary of the
two States, and the territory has been formally delivered over to the Nipalese
Authorities. In order the more firmly to secure the State of
All Treaties and Engagements now in force between the British Government and the Maharajah of Nipal, except in so far as they may be altered by this Treaty, are hereby confirmed.
The British Government hereby bestows on the Maharajah of Nipal in full sovereignty, the whole of the lowlands between the Rivers Kali and Raptee, and the whole of the lowlands lying between the River Raptee and the District of Gorukpore, which were in the possession of the Nipal State in the year 1815 and were ceded to the British Government by Article III of the Treaty concluded at Segowlee on the 2nd of December in the year.
The boundary line surveyed by the British Commissioners appointed for the purpose extending eastward from the River Kali or Sardah to the foot of the hills north of Bagowra Tal, and marked by pillars, shall henceforth be the boundary between the British Province of Oudh and the Territories of the Maharajah of Nipal.
This Treaty, signed by lieutenant-Colonel George Ramsay, on the part of his Excellency the Right Honourable Charles John, Earl Canning, G.C.B, Viceroy and Governor-General of India, and by Maharaja Jung Bahadoor Rana, G.C.B, on the part of Maharajah Dheraj Soorinder Vikram Sah Bahadoor Shumshere Jung, shall be ratified, and the ratifications shall be exchanged at Kathmandoo within thirty days of the date of signature.
Signed and sealed at Kathmandoo, this first day of November, A.D, one thousand eight hundred and sixty corresponding to the third day of Kartick Budee, Sumbut nineteen hundred and seventeen.
G. RAMSAY, LIEUT. COL.
Resident at Nipal
Viceroy and Governor-General
This Treaty was ratified by His
Excellency the Governor-General, at
Secretary to the Government of
 This article uses the ‘Gurkhas’ nomenclature used by the British army. The Indian army prefers to use ‘Gorkhas.’
 As the writer’s family was associated with the Sirmoor Regiment, he had access to that regiment’s history – hence, detailed account of this regiment. Unfortunately, despite the attempts of Lt. Colonel Dhan Bdr Thapa 5th GR, access to the regimental history of Malaun and Kumaon failed. Those on internet websites were very sketchy lacking details. The Kumaon Regiment was used in the final attack of 14th September 1857 on Delhi. Though the Malaun Regiment was also used during the 1857 Mutiny, the writer has no details of that regiment during that period. The writer, hence, would be grateful to any readers of this article who can provide him the regimental history of these two premier regiments, the Malaun and Kumaon. The writer can be availed at phone # 01-4431393 or at email address: email@example.com .
 Stiller, Ludwig F, SJ. 1993.
 Chandra B Khanduri. 1997. A Re-Discovered History of Gorkhas. Gyan Sagar Publications. Delhi.
 Nusseree re-designated 1st King George V’s Own Gurkha Rifles – the Malaun Regiment.
 Sirmoor re-designated 2nd King Edward VII’s Own Gurkha Rifles – the Sirmoor Rifles.
 Kumaon re-designated 3rd Queen Alexandra’s Own Gurkha Rifles – the Kumaon Regiment.
 Colonel LW Shakespear. History of the 2nd King Edward’s Own Goorkha Rifles (The Sirmoor Rifles). Aldershot: Gale & Polden Ltd. 1950. First published 1912.
 The British army disbanded the four original regiments (2nd, 6th, 7th and 10th) and now has only two regiments – the 1st and 2nd Gurkha Rifles. The days are not too far off when the Indian army will similarly disband her seven Gurkha Regiments (1st, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 8th, 9th and 11th) that presently has 38 pure Gurkha battalions. While our ‘Political Masters’ fight among themselves for the loaves and fishes of the nation, they are more keen to send her citizens to Middle East and Malaya not as Lahures but as Labourers for dirty and dangerous jobs!
 James H and Sheil-Small D. 1975. Pride of Gurkhas. The 2nd King Edward VII’s Own Goorkhas (The Sirmoor Rifles) 1948 – 1971. Leo Cooper Ltd. London.
 Stiller, Ludwig F, SJ. 1993.