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History of Nepal
Kirat era
Licchavi era
Thakuri era
Malla era
Shah era
Rana era
Democratic era

The Rana dynasty ruled the Kingdom of Nepal from 1846 until 1953, reducing the Shah monarch to a figurehead and making Prime Minister and other government positions hereditary. It is descended from one Bal Narsingh Kunwar of Kaski, who moved to Gorkha in the early 18th century and entered the service of Raja Nara Bhupal Shah around 1740. Originally, the Rana dynasty was a part of the Royal family of Chittor now Udaipur in India, capital of the Mewar region. The dynasty traces its roots to Maharaj Kumbhakaran Singh of Chittor, Mewar. Maharaj Kumbhakaran Singh was the younger brother of Rana Ratan Singh of Mewar. Rana Ratan Singh married Rani Padmini (She along with hundreds of other women undertook Jauhar and the male members performed Saka during the siege of the Chittorgarh fort by the ignominious sultan of Delhi, Allauddin Khilji ).

Jang Bahadur was the first ruler from this dynasty. His original family name was Rana but in Nepal people mistook his Rajput title of Kunwar for his family name, Kunwar is a title denoting royal lineage used by Rajput princes in northern India. Rana rulers were titled "Shri Teen" and "Maharaja", whereas Shah kings were "Shri Panch" and "Maharajdiraj". Both the Rana dynasty and Shah dynasty are Chandravanshi/Rajput caste in the Hindu tradition, in contrast with the native Himalayan culture which is largely Buddhist and Bön.

Jung Bahadur was the grandson of the famous Nepalese hero and Prime minister Bhimsen Thapa. Originally Jung Bahadur and his brother Ranodip Singh brought a lot of upliftment and modernisation to Nepalese society, the abolishment of slavery, upliftment of the untouchable class, public access to education etc. but these dreams were short lived when in the coup d'état of 1885 the nephews of Jung Bahadur and Ranodip Singh (the Shumshers J.B., S.J.B. or Satra (17) Family) murdered Ranodip Singh and the sons of Jung Bahadur, stole the name of Jung Bahadur and took control of Nepal.[10][11] This Shumsher Rana rule is regarded by some as one of the reasons for Nepal lagging behind in modern development. The children of Jung Bahadur and Ranodip Singh mainly lived outside of Kathmandu, in Nepal and mainly in India after escaping the coup d'état of 1885.[12]

After the murder of Sri Teen Maharaja Ranodip Singh, the Shamshers occupied the hereditary throne of Prime Minister and added "Jung Bahadur" to their name, although they were descended from Jung's younger brother Dhir Shumsher. This was done after Sri Teen Maharaja Chandra Shumsher realised the British gave more weight and importance to the "Jang Bahadur" name.

Crown Prince General Dhoj Narsingh Rana, adopted son of Sri Teen Maharaja Ranodip Singh (His biological father was Badri Narsingh Rana) had to go into exile with his family to India along with many of Jung Bahadur's surviving descendants. Many of Crown Prince General Dhoj Narsingh's children and family remained with Sri Teen Ranodip Singh's widow in Benares and were then relocated later relocated to Udaipur upon the invitation by Maharana Fateh Singh, who sought to give refuge to his Rana cousins. Out of seven sons and three daughters of Gen. Dwaj Narsingh three sons and one daughter moved to Udaipur on an invitation from the Maharana who graciously requested them to settle in Udaipur. While Neel Narsingh died at an early age the Rana princes Shri Narsingh & Dev Narsingh established themselves and carry on the family's name in the city of their forefathers. Their families estabished marital relations with the royal families and Thikanas like Jasmor (head of the Pundir clan), Banka, Gogunda, Samode, Neemrana (descendents of Prithviraj Chauhan), Mahendragarh, Medhas (From the family of Riyan which is the main seat of the Mertiya Rathores) etc. The British government did not help any of the exiled princes whose fathers had saved the British and their empire in 1857.

The shortest serving Rana was Deva Shamsher Jang Bahadur Rana who ruled for two months in 1901, he was deposed by his brothers because of his open display of guilt for what has happened during the coup. Known as "The Reformist" for his progressive policies, he proclaimed universal education, began to building schools, took steps to abolish slavery, and introduced several other social welfare schemes. He also made improvements to the arsenal at Nakkhu (south of Kathmandu) and started The Gorkhapatra newspaper. Dev Shumsher felt guilty for what had transpired during the coup, also a key incident happened during the coup which affected him deeply. He was held at gunpoint by General Dhoj Narsingh Rana, but was allowed to live and forgiven. For this he felt a lot of guilt and asked for the exiled family members to return to Nepal. This brought him in clash with his immediate brothers. He was deposed by his relatives, where he settled in Jhari Pani, near Mussoorie, where his Fairlawn Palace once stood. A developer purchased the palace and tore it down, replacing it with cottages. All that remains are a few of the original gates and a small portion of the palace skeleton.

Even the last Prime Minister of Nepal Maharaja Mohan Shamshere Rana, who later settled in Bangalore, exchanged letters with the Rana family in Udaipur which was definitely an effort to reunite with his estranged family. The Rana family in Udaipur has till date preserved all such letters along with some photographs of Mohan Shamshere.

Under the British Raj, the Ranas were acclaimed and given much prestige and a 19-gun salute; all with the exception of Deva Shamsher received knighthoods.

The Rana dynasty developed into a powerful family clan and are still very influential in the country today. The family formed a close alliance with the Shah dynasty via marriage and business alliances.

Rana Prime Ministers

Nine Rana rulers took the hereditary office of Prime Minister. All were styled Maharaja of Lamjung and Kaski.

  1. Maharaja Sir Jang Bahadur, GCB, GCSI (18 June 1816–25 February 1877)
    Ruled 1846 to 25 February 1877. Received the hereditary rights to the title of Rana and a salute of 19 guns from the British.
  2. Maharaja Sir Renaudip Singh aka Ranodip Singh Rana, KCSI (3 April 1825–22 November 1885
    Ruled 25 February 1877 to 22 November 1885.
  3. Maharaja Sir Bir Shamsher Jang Bahadur Rana, GCSI (10 December 1852–5 March 1901)
    Ruled 22 November 1885 to 5 March 1901.
  4. Maharaja Deva Shamsher Jang Bahadur Rana (17 July 1862–20 February 1914)
    Ruled 5 March to 27 June 1901, when as a result of his progressive nature, he was deposed by his relatives and sent into exile in India.
  5. Maharaja Sir Chandra Shamsher Jang Bahadur Rana, GCB, GCSI, GCMG, GCVO, Kaiser-i-Hind (8 July 1863–26 November 1929)
    Ruled 27 June 1901 to 26 November 1929.
  6. Maharaja Sir Bhim Shamsher Jang Bahadur Rana, GCSI, GCMG, KCVO (16 April 1865–1 September 1932)
    Ruled 26 November 1929 to 1 September 1932.
  7. Maharaja Sir Juddha Shamsher Jang Bahadur Rana, GCB, GCSI, GCIE (19 April 1875–20 November 1952)
    Ruled 1 September 1932 to 29 November 1945, whereupon he abdicated in favor of his nephew.
  8. Maharaja Sir Padma Shamsher Jang Bahadur Rana, GCSI, GBE, KCIE (5 December 1882–11 April 1961)
    Ruled 20 November 1945 to 30 April 1948, whereupon he abdicated in favor of his cousin.
  9. Maharaja Sir Mohan Shamsher Jang Bahadur Rana, GCB, GCIE, GBE (23 December 1885–6 January 1967)
    Ruled 30 April 1948 to 18 February 1951, at which date he was divested of his titles and exiled to India.

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