Amarsingh Thapa

Amarsingh Thapa, born in 1751, is one of the great heroes of the country. He spent all his active life fighting for his country neither having a desire for money nor comfort but fought solely for extending the territory of Nepal.

After the death of his father in the battle for Kathmandu Valley, he received guidance and care from king Prithvi Narayan Shah, the founder of Nepal. Amarsingh Thapa played significant role in all the battles fought west of Gorkha during the rule of Bahadur Shah. In course of his west ward march, Amarsingh conquered Garhwal along with Dehra Dun by defeating the King of Garhwal. He conquered one after another territory until Nepal’s boundary reached the banks of the Satlaj River.

Then he turned towards Killa-Kangra but could not actually attack it due to lack of good fighters. Instead, he began to tighten a blockade around it by conquering most of the surrounding kingdoms. A fierce battle was fought between Sikh troops and the Nepalese in front of Kangra. The soldiers inside the fort came out to join the Sikhs. At last, Amarsingh retreated across the Satlaj.

After his retreat from Kangra, Amarsingh started uniting his position in the newly won territories. In the meantime, war suddenly broke out between Nepal and the East India Company. He was against this war and did his best for peaceful agreement.  But when he failed in his attempt, he was forced to fight with the Company soldiers when they attacked him in Simla hills.

The Company troops attacked Nepal through Simla, Dehra Dun, Butwal and Bara-Parsa. They had made good preparations for the battle. Despite this, the British met with reverses on almost every front along a 700 mile frontier. However, the Company’s forces had a back up from reaching Amarsingh Thapa in the far west. They captured Almoda and forced the Gorkhas to withdraw to the east of the river.

Major-General David Ochterlony had seven thousand men under him when attacking Amarsingh Thapa. Amarsingh had hardly three thousand. Still, it took all the military skills of Ochterlony to outwit Thapa and send the Gorkhas back. The Gorkhas suffered heavy loss in the battle of Deuthal where Bhakti Thapa died. Amarsingh still hesitated to give up even when he had less than five hundred men. At last, after hearing the news of fall of Kumaun, he gave up. He and his son Ranjore Singh were allowed to return with all the honors of the war.

Shortly after his return to Kathmandu, a treaty was drafted at Sugauli and sent to the King for his final approval. The treaty proposed for the return of the territories won by Nepal. Thapa immediately expressed his disapproval saying that it would hurt Nepal’s dignity. This made the Gorkhas gather their strength to renew the fight.

Upon Nepal’s refusal of the Sugauli treaty, in December 2, 1815, Ochterlony launched a new military campaign against Gorkhas. The British force marched successfully taking one fort after another. On Februray 29, they took the fort of Hariharpur on the way to Kathmandu. It threatened the capital, hence, Nepal accepted the treaty of Sugauli on 4th March 1816.

Amarsingh was the commander of the Sindhuli Sadhi during the second round of fighting. The sudden collapse of the glory he had created hurt him terribly and he decided to spend his last days in solitude. He retired to the Himalayas and died in 1816, at the Gosainkunda.