That was the time when the Kingdome of Nepal, with the help of his Gurkha troops, was trying to invade the British Boundaries to their east and Tibetan boundaries to their North. British were keen to open the trade with Tibet and demanded the route through Nepal. The King of Nepal refused it completely and also kept Tibet in trouble. On the other hand one of the General of Gurkha Army, Amar Singh Thapa, was active with his forces and had annexed the fort of Kangra, one of the strongest forts in the hills at that time.

Sir General David Octhorlony

Gorkhas in the Hills

In 1814 Sir General David Ochtherlony was one of the four commanders who lead the British army to the hills. His army troupe was in the area where the Gurkhas had the strongest hold under the guidance of their leaders Amar Singh Thapa and Bhaktee Thapa. In 1814 the British army moved up. Before that, Sikhs already had defeated Gurkhas and expelled them from the hills near around Kangra. In those days Shimla was surrounded by nearly more than twenty Sir General David Octhorlonyfive princely estates. Gurkhas arrive in this area and caused a great level of disturbance for all of them.

The Behaviour of Gurkhas

The cruelty of Gurkhas has been described in such a way that it sounds like they were a major problem in the area. In 1804 during the Gurkha Sikh war, Gurkhas suffered a major defeat from Sikh army. Many of them died during the battle and several others died of diseases. So in order to take revenge, they arrived around Simla Hills and started causing trouble to the local chieftains. According to Udhab Singh Kumar a writer from that era mentioned in one of his articles that around Arki, near Shimla, they ate so many goats that the cost of the Goat reached Rs. 30/- per head.

During the Raj, a local writer wrote about them, ‘The Gurkha army had no law to guide them., nor did they care for peace and prosperity, They valued their luxuries far above the right of others, and hence their rule in the hills is regarded as nothing but a plague infection, reunions to the hill subjects under them, and eventually to themselves ….to them’.

In these hills, they built many forts to protect themselves from the British troupes. It is said that if a Gurkha soldier was walking on a mountain trail and his foot hit a stone, he would not move a pace ahead till the time he had crushed the rock to powder. This type of cruelty they had and for the British, due to their mountain ability it was quite a challenge to fight against the Gurkhas. The British soldiers were used to fight in the plains and it was difficult for them to stand against the Gurkhas who had to lead their life in the tough terrain in the hills.

The End of Gorkha Rule in the Hills

British had to lift arms against them because they had begun to create trouble on the British boundaries. After the Gurkhas suffered defeat from the British at various places, the final battle was fought in the foothills of Shimla at a place called Mallon. The Gurkha army couldn’t stand in front of the British cannons and guns and one of the very senior Gurkha General, Bhaktee Thapa suffered a bullet injury and died. Now rest of the army dispersed and the battle was over.

That was the end of Gurkha rule in the hills of Indian Western Himalaya. Now the local life returned to its normal pace and to Now the question was how to get rid of them, completely because there were chances of them to return soon with some other strategic idea. General Octherloly was impressed with the mountain ability of Gurkhas, their fighting skill and courage. He discussed his idea with his counterpart in Dehradoon, General Fraser. Both of them agreed to work out a separate regiment in East India Company and employ Gurkhas.

Nasiri Battalion

After the Anglo-Gorkha war in 1815, a battalion named as Nasiri Battalion was made with its headquarters at Subathu in the foothills of Shimla. The cantonment is still there and Subathu, with time has become a hill station for the tourists. Although unlike Kasauli, another hill station Subathu does not have anything to offer in terms of climate, landscape or history, and also there are hardly any hotels for the visitors to stay but still it is worth a visit for those who are interested in seeing the cantonment of visiting the Garrison cemetery. Apart from that, there is another cemetery in the area where many Brits are buried. Those who are looking for a grave of some of his/her ancestors are welcome to visit the cemeteries.

Ever since Gurkhas have been loyal to the British Army and Indian Army as well.

By : Sumit Raj Vashisht

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