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...If you arrive during
a week without a festival, it will probably be time for
marriage processions
in the streets.

~ Marc Cofer, Author

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General Historical Information on Nepal

Nepal has a long glorious history. Its civilization can be traced back to thousands of years before the birth of Christ. History reveals dynasties of Ahirs and Gopalas, Kirants, Licchavis and Thakuris ruling the country before the Malla period began. Modern Nepal is an amalgamation of a number of principalities which had independent entities in the past. Before the campaign of national integration launched by King Prithivi Narayan Shah – the first Shah King of Nepal, Kathmandu valley was ruled by the Malla Kings, whose contribution to arts and culture are indeed great and the Malla era is considered to be the golden age of Nepal. In 1768 A.D., the Shah King defeated the Malla Kings and unified the country that was divided into small independent Kingdoms.

The revolution of November 1950 brought an end to autocratic Rana regime that ruled the country for 104 years since 1846 A.D. The Ranas seized all the power from the Shahs but revered the existence of King in Nepal. After the fall of Ranas in February 1951, Nepal first saw a dawn of democracy. The parliamentary government under the multi-party system was adopted for some years which was later followed by Panchayat System in 1960. The popular people’s movement of 1990 reinstated the multi party democratic system and the new democratic constitution of the Kingdom was promulgated on November 9, 1990.

Gyanendra Bir Bikram Shah Dev became the king of Nepal on June 4, 2001, following the death of his elder brother late King Birendra Bir Bikram Shah Dev.

This was not the first time for Gyanendra to have been crowned as the King of Nepal. He was declared king during a political plot on November 7, 1950 when both his father King Mahendra and his grandfather King Tribhuvan along with other royals fled to India. In January 1951, his grandfather King Tribhuvan returned to Nepal and resumed the throne.

After ascending the throne, Gyanendra dismissed the parliament in October 2002 and declared a state of emergency in the country. He also dismissed a series of prime ministers and by February 2005, took complete control.

In April 2006, King Gyanendra was forced to give up his absolute rule following wide spread protests. He was stripped from all his political and cultural rights.

On May 28, 2008, Nepal was declared a federal democratic republic by the newly elected Constituent Assembly. The Nepali government then sent a letter to King Gyanendra to vacate the Narayanhiti palace within the 15-day deadline given by the Constituent Assembly. With the new Constituent Assembly in effect, Gyanendra and his family now assume their roles as general citizens of Nepal, with Gyanendra being the last in the line of the Shah Dynasty.

May 29 and 30, 2008 was declared as national holidays in the new republic. People throughout the country welcomed the dawn of republic with great jubilation.

The government has decided to convert the Naranyanhiti palace into a museum. A government appointed panel has also been formed to prepare details of artifacts and other precious belongings of the palace to be displayed in the museum. Meanwhile, the Nepal's national flag in front of the palace has replaced the royal flag.

Gyanendra was born on July 7, 1947. He is the second son of late King Mahendra and his wife Indira. On May 1, 1970, Gyanendra married Komal Rajya Laxmi Shah. They have two children; Paras Bir Bikram Shah Dev and daughter Prerana Rajya Laxmi Devi Shah.

Nepal is one of the founding members of South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) which was formed in December 1985. The SAARC Secretariat was set up in Kathmandu in January 1987 and later in the same year in November, third SAARC summit was held in Kathmandu.

Late King Birendra Bir Bikram Shah Dev ruled Nepal for 30 years from January 30, 1971 to June 1, 2001. His son Crown Prince Dipendra was named King on June 2, 2001, after the unfaithful Royal family massacre of June 1, 2001 that took the lives of the King, Queen, Prince, Princess and five other Royal family members. But King Dipendra soon died in hospital on June 4, 2001. The younger brother of late King Birendra, His Majesty King Gyanendra Bir Bikram Shah Dev was accessioned to throne on June 4, 2001 and currently rules the country. He is the twelfth King in the Shah dynasty.

During a regular gathering at Narayanhity Royal Palace on the Friday night of June 1, 2001, the gathered Royal family members were shot dead and some were injured within a few minutes of time by Crown Prince Dipendra, who was heavily under the influence of alcohol and drugs. Crown Prince Dipendra also shot himself in an attempt of suicide over an argument he had with his parents about the woman he wanted to marry. Crown Prince Dipendra was admitted to hospital in a coma and critically wounded condition, but still was named the King.

The King in Nepal is seen as a Living God, the reincarnation of Lord Vishnu. Late King Birendra was very popular and deeply loved by the people of Nepal who were greatly shocked and saddened by the news and it took quite a long time for the countrymen to come out from their self mourning.

The King, Queen and other members of the Royal family were carried to Pashupati Aryaghat, next to the Holy Bagmati River, for their last rites. Desperate to know the truth, people blocked traffic in protest and riots began in the streets of Kathmandu and even curfew had to be imposed to disperse the restless crowd which just could not believe what had happened inside the highly guarded Royal Palace.

People shaved their heads as a sign of respect for their beloved King as they would have done in the demise of their family members as per Hinduism and a 5 day closure of government offices and 13 days of official mourning was announced. Just after 48 hours of the title “King”, King Dipendra died in the hospital and the younger brother of late King Birendra, Prince Gyanendra became the new King of Nepal - three Kings in 4 days.

The murder of Royals inside Narayanhity Royal Palace is said to be the second worst mass killing of royalty in the world after the Romanovs, who were killed back in 1918 during the Russian civil war.

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