History of the Nepali Military Academy

The initial years witnessed the establishment of an Army School in the vicinity of the Nepali Army’s Chaunni Barracks in Kathmandu in 1952 AD. Eventually, a Cadet Training Wing solely responsible for the conduct of basic trainings to Officer Cadets was incorporated within the organizational structure of the school that would later become an army school. The army school was shifted to several locations, from Suping to Nagarkot. In the meantime, it was realized that a separate organization with a distinct identity was necessary that would turn into a Centre of Excellence for the training of officer cadets alone. Hence, the then Royal Nepalese Military Academy was established in Kharipati, Bhaktapur on 29 December 1986. The Academy was renamed as the Military Academy in 2006. Since 14 March 2009, the training institution is known as the Nepali Military Academy (NMA), under Directorate General of Military Training and Doctrine (DGMT &D), which has been devoted to produce officers through rigorous military trainings along undergraduate degree courses of Tribhuvan University. NMA aims at preparing professionally competent and academically sound young officers, capable to undertake roles and responsibilities at a junior leadership level. Till date, the Academy has commissioned 4,571 officers, all truly abiding by its noble motto, Knowledge, Service and Leadership, in letter, spirit and action.

The trainee cadets are divided among 5 companies namely Nuwakot, Kerung, Makwanpur, Nalapani and Jitgadhi. The companies are named after the famous battles fought in those places having great historical significance. A sort summary of each battle is presented below.

BATTLE OF NUWAKOT

Nuwakot being the combination of nine forts has a pertinent strategic significance which is attributable to its geography being a dominating feature along the trade route, fertile river basin and the capacity to logistically self-sustain itself. Nuwakot commands the northern and western entry points into Kathmandu valley and controls the main trade route to Tibet. Hence Nuwakot is a perfect epitome for the location of an impregnable fort.

Being apprised of the importance, King Narabhupal Shah of Gorkha had earlier attempted to capture Nuwakot, but had failed. In 1743, King Prithvi Narayan Shah launched a second attempt but had suffered a notable loss at the hands of the Kantipur Army.

Discerning the imperative need to increase the strength, modernize and professionalize his army, the King hastened to Varanasi to procure modern weapons, war materials and ammunition. He hired foreign military instructors to train and groom his soldiers in improvised techniques to manufacture gun powder along with crafting arrows, spears, swords and khukuris. Finally, inclusion of all castes in recruitment and increment in size motivated the well-equipped army of Gorkha and enabled the establishment of an offensive.

The two previous failures had taught the Gorkhali Army the importance of deception and surprise. On 26 September 1744, amidst the celebration of Indra Jatra in Kantipur, the Gorkhali Army surreptitiously disguised as farmers gained information, launched a night attack and swiftly subdued the Kantipur Army.

Then, King Prithvi Narayan Shah declared Nuwakot as his “Karma Bhumi”, and developed it as a firm-base for the attack of Kathmandu valley. Major offices to formulate his strategic plans were established there to initiate his unification campaign. Later, the King imparted his “Dibya Upadesh” to his courtiers when he was grievously ill at Nuwakot and his last rites were performed at Devighat.

Battle Hero: King Prithvi Narayan Shah
Motto: सत्य, निष्ठा, धैर्य

BATTLE OF KERUNG

Kerung situated 25 kilometers north of the Rasuwa Fort of Nepal at a height of 2700 meters, is a vital pass to enter Tibet. Since the sixth century, Nepal had maintained close linguistic, social, matrimonial and ethnic binds with the Tibetan communities. King Ram Shah of Gorkha and King Pratap Malla of Kantipur had taken advantage of the Tibetan weaknesses and seized control of the strategically along with economically vital passes of Kerung and Kuti respectively, from where Trans- Himalayan trade passed through along with Nepalese silver coins being the primary currency in Tibet.

In 1788, the Tibetans protested about the poor quality of Nepalese silver coins minted and sent to Tibet as well as for providing refuge to the fugitive Syamarpa Lama and his fourteen followers. Simultaneously, Nepal complained of the low quality of the Tibetan salt exported. During the stalemate, Nepal launched the first Nepal-Tibet War (1788- 1789) with multi-directional attacks. In the war, Nepalese troops captured areas upto Jhunga and Sikharjong. The Chinese General Pa’chung mediated the Treaty of Kerung as per which the Tibetans were compelled to be a tributary state and pay 50,001 silver coins annually to Nepal.

Tibet failed to respect the treaty obligations and in 1791, Nepal again invaded Tibet and captured Digarcha along with the monastery. The Chinese Emperor dispatched huge number of troops under General Fuk’angan and in 1792, the war turned out to be Nepal-Tibet-China War. Nepal was confronting Sikkim as well as the revolts in Doti, Accham and Jumla.

During the regency of Bahadur Shah, the Nepalese troops under Kazi Damodar Pandey were overwhelmed and decided to use Kerung as a strategic vital ground and proceeded to fight a series of delaying action battles along the Trisuli River inflicting heavy casualties. The Chinese Army suffered a major setback with the loss of 1200 soldiers as their attempt to cross Betrawati River during the monsoons faced fierce counter attacks from the Nepalese defenses. While the Chinese were fearful of the heavy casualties sustained and the adverse monsoon weather, the Nepalese were also apprehensive of the proximity to Kathmandu. Thus, the Government of Nepal signed the Treaty of Betrawatiin 1792 which demarcated the Nepal-Tibet border at Rasuwagadhi.

Battle Hero: Bahadur Shah
Motto :भक्ति, एकता, सफलता

BATTLE OF MAKWANPUR

In the 16th century Mukunda Sen, the King of Sen dynasty divided Palpa among his sons.Lohang Sen being one of the princes, established an autonomous Makwanpur state and constructed a strong fort there. His descendant, King Subha Sen further reinforced the bastion situated on a dominating height to bolster its strategic importance. The walls of the fort were 25 feet high, 7 feet broad, surrounded by a moat 10 feet deep which effectively dominated the route of ingress from the south into Kathmandu Valley.

After ascending the throne of Gorkha, King Prithvi Narayan Shah appreciated the importance of assimilating Kathmandu Valley in his unification campaign for which he felt a need to capture the strategically pertinent Makwanpur Fort. King Prithvi Narayan Shah then married Indra Kumari, daughter of King Hem Karna Sen of Makwanpur. In 1762, the Gorkhali Army charged the fort and reigned victorious as the incumbent King Digbandhan Sen fled eastward to Hariharpur Fort. Then, restrictions were imposed over movement of Muslim invaders into Kathmandu valley.

Infuriated by the restrictions, Mir Qasim, the Nawab of Bengal ordered Gurgin Khan based in Betiah to capture Makwanpur Fort and then Kathmandu Valley with a well-armed force. On 20 January 1763, the Gorkhali troops under Sardar Nandu Shah reinforced by Bansaraj Pandey, Shree Harsha Panta, Jeev Shah, Naharsingh Basnet, Keharsingh Basnet and few more commanders attacked the assailants unexpectedly at night with their experienced troops using mountain warfare techniques; armed with few canons, guns, swords and spears from three sides. Many Muslim soldiers were killed and Gurgin Khan fled leaving many modern weapons which were used to strengthen the Gorkhali Army. It was the first victory of Gorkhalis against well-armed and equipped foreign troops.

East India Company was in search of an excuse to subdue the unified Nepal and open its trade axis into Tibet through the low altitude Himalayan passes. During the first phase of Anglo-Nepal War (1814-1816), Major General Bennet Marley was tasked to initially capture Hariharpur and Makwanpur Forts via Parsa and Samanpur with a force of 8000 and then proceed into Kathmandu. Colonel Ranabir Singh held Hariharpur and Makwanpur Forts with 4000 troops and fought a gallant defensive battle to thwart the assailants and compel them to retreat in confusion. Thus, the Nepali troops were extremely accurate to judge the strategic value of Makwanpur Fort along with confronting and valiantly chasing the well-armed Muslim and British Army.

Battle Hero: Colonel Ranabir SinghThapa
Motto:शौर्य, दुरदृष्टि, सिध्दि

BATTLE OF NALAPANI

Nepalese garrison at Nalapani Khalanga near Dehradun was a strategic stronghold. Captain Balbhadra Kuwar commanded the Nepalese garrison which comprised of troops of, the then Purano Gorakh, Barakh, and Kali Dal and Mlechchakalanal companies with a strength of 600 along with their family dependents.

Major General Robert Rollo Gillespie with 4000 British troops stormed Nalapani Fort from all sides after Captain Balbhadra Kuwar refused to surrender. As the first attack under Colonel Carpenter failed to capture the Nalapani Fort, General Gillespie with anger, remorse and opprobrium, led the second attack personally on 31 October 1814. Though significantly outnumbered and outclassed in firepower, Nepalese troops tenaciously fought with limited guns, khukuris, arrows and stones inflicting heavy casualties onto the aggressors. The second attempt was again foiled miserably after General Gillespie and his assistant, Lt O’Hara succumbed to death at the hands of a Nepalese sharpshooter while leading the assault. History has recorded this battle as the first instance of Nepalese women and children actively participating in repelling the assailants and serving as care givers to the casualties at Nalapani. The British side had suffered 69 deaths and 671 casualties.

Colonel Mawbey immediately assumed command and resorted to subjecting attrition onto the Nepalese garrison by means of encirclement, cutting off the external water supply, harassing by direct cannon fire and waiting for the arrival of more guns and ammunition from Delhi. Unfortunately, thirst, hunger, heavy casualties and lack of reinforcement had taken a heavy toll onto the Nepalese troops. On 30 November 1814, Captain Balbhadra Kunwar abandoned the bastion and led a column of the remaining 70 survivors with khukuris in hand as they charged fiercely and fearlessly through the besieging British soldiers and escaped into the hills to fight another day.

In 1824, the British constructed two grand monoliths that still stand near Nalapani. One was constructed in honor of Major General Gillespie and his fallen companions, while the second was dedicated to Captain Balbhadra Kuwar and his brave soldiers which reads, “This is inscribed as a tribute of respect for our gallant adversary BUL BUDDER, Commander of the fort and his brave Gorkhas.”

Battle Hero: Captain Balbhadra Kunwar
Motto:सङ्कल्प, सत्कार, भक्ति

BATTLE OF JITGADHI

The Sen Dynasty of Tansen, Palpa had built the twin bastions at Nuwakot Gadi and Jitgadi to defend themselves against possible invasions from the Indo-Gangetic Plains. The frontier fortress of Jitgadi in Butwal, surrounded by dense forest, was situated on the western bank of Tinau Riverand astride the primary route to Tansen. The strategically dominating Nuwakot Gadi in the northern hills provided depth, mutual support and instant reinforcement to Jitgadhi.

The East India Company wanted to claim their sovereignty in Sheoraj and Butwal. The outright refusal and rejection of the proposal by Nepal triggered a border dispute between Nepal and the British. Hence, in January 1815, Major General John Sullivan Wood with a strong offensive column approached Jitgadhi which was held by Nepalese troops under Colonel Ujir SinghThapa.

The Nepalese troops were outnumbered and acutely inferior in firepower. Yet, the river obstacle coupled with the impregnable jungle, the ability to reinforce swiftly from behind and the numerous aggressive Nepalese offensive skirmishes forced the British column to forestall the plan to develop Butwal as their business hub, to establish a trade link with Nepal and they had to fall back with utter resentment. While 70 Nepalese troops were killed, over 300 British troops perished. The strong resistance put forth by Colonel Ujir Singh Thapa and troops under his command against the incursion of East India Company made him a national hero in the annals of the military history of Nepal. General Wood had made two attempts to capture Jitgadhi, including the first on Jan 1815 and second on April 1815, both of which had utterly failed against the bravery of Nepalese troops.

Battle Hero: Colonel Ujir Singh Thapa
Motto: शौर्य, दुरदृष्टि, सिध्दि