The association of the Nepalese
soldiers called Gurkhas (native form Gorkha
) with the British army dates from 1814, when Nepalese incursions into East India Company
territory in Bengal
led to a war between Britain and Nepal
. The Gurkha warrior
s were so impressive in their valour
, and honour
that on the conclusion of peace, a Regiment
of Gurkhas was formed in 1815.
They stayed loyal to the Crown during the Indian Mutiny, and have served Britain with intense fidelity and courage in every war and conflict since. A hundred thousand Gurkhas fought in the First World War, and even more in the Second. They have been honoured with many a Victoria Cross.
On the independence of India in 1947, four of the ten Gurkha regiments of rifles remained British. They have been based at Singapore, then Hong Kong, and are now based in Britain and Brunei. The four regiments have since been restructured into the Royal Gurkha Rifles. Their headquarters is at Church Crookham in Hampshire.
A kingdom of Gorkha existed from 1669 under the Saha dynasty, with rajas
- Prithvipati 1669-1716
- Narabhpati 1716-1742
- Prithvinarayana 1742-1775
On 25 September 1768 Raja Prithvinarayana Saha annexed the kingdom of Kathmandu
and became the first king ( Maharajadhiraja
) of Nepal
, under the title Prithivi Narayan Shah Deva. He absorbed the other Nepalese kingdoms of Lalitapatan
in October 1768 and Bhatgaon
in November 1769. Nepal had been divided into these kingdoms since 1484. His Shah Deva dynasty continues to rule Nepal.
In India, the state of Sikkim is Nepalese-speaking, as is the district around Darjiling in West Bengal, this having formerly been part of independent Sikkim. The ethnically Nepalese people of Darjiling call themselves Gorkha, and sometimes call their form of the Nepalese language Gorkhali. There is some agitation for separation from West Bengal into a new state or territory of Gorkhaland. These are native to the district: there are also immigrants from Nepal, who are not classed as Gorkhas.
Note that Ghurka is a baseless misspelling.