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Who Are Gurkahs?

Gurkha used to carry this knife so it is also called Gurkha knife “khukuri” Gorkha army is the derived form of Gorkhali. Gurkha name comes from the “Gorkha” place in Nepal. King Prithvi Narayan Shah was the king of Gorkha. At that time Nepal was divided into many small regions where there used to be an individual king in each region. Later King Prithvi Narayan Shah realized that all the small states or regions should be united and should make a whole country. So King Prithvi Narayan Shaha with the help of his “Gorkhali” army (from Gorkha), succeeded in uniting Nepal into one kingdom around 1768-69 AD. During the early 19th century, the Gorkhali army was involved in a long-drawn battle with mercantile British India. Eventually, a peace treaty was signed, and the British, seeing how bravely the Gorkhalis fought, also made a provision in the treaty to recruit Nepalese in the British Army as British “Gurkha” soldiers.

Since then, many Nepalese, mostly the Rais, Limbus, Gurungs and Magars, have served and still serve in the British Army. Their courage, sincerity and loyalty have won them praise and friendship from their British counterparts and fear and respect from their enemies. For their velour, many Gurkha soldiers have been decorated with medals of Honor, including the Victoria Cross, the highest military honor for bravery in the British Army.

Prithvi Narayan Shah’s descendant is King Gyanendra Bir Bikram Shah Dev, who reigns in the kingdom of Nepal Today.

The Gurkha and the Khukuri (Gurkha Knife )

The Gurkha knife “khukuri” and Gurkha soldier has a very close relationship with each other. The Gurkhas Victoria Cross medal would not be in the arms of Gurkha soldier if there was no “Gurkha knife” the khukuri. The famous “Gurkha soldier” had no reputation if there was not this “Gurkha knife” the Khukuri. So in a way we can say that without this “Gurkha knife” the Khukuri, the bravery, honesty and fearless Gurkha soldiers have resulted nothing. And because of the soldiers today this “Gurkha knife” the khukuri is our National weapon is worthy of notice, if only for the remarkable weapon which they use in preference to any other. It is called the “kukri” and is of a very peculiar shape. As may be seen by reference to the drawings both the blade and hilt are curved. The blade is very thick at the back measuring a little more than a quarter of an inch in thickness. From the back it is thinned off gradually to the edge, which has curve of its own, quite different to that of the back, so the blade is widest as well as thickest in the middle, and tapers at one end towards the hilt and the other towards the point. The steel of which the blade is formed is of admirable temper, as is shown by the fact that specimens which had not been cleaned for thirty years, but have been hung upon walls among other weapons, are scarcely touched with rust, and for the greater part of their surface are burnished like mirrors. The point of the kukri is as sharp as a needle, so that the weapon answers equally for cutting or stabbing. In consequence of the great thickness of the metal, the blade is exceedingly heavy. It may be imagined that a blow from such a weapon as this must be a very terrible one. The very weight of the blade would drive it half through a man’s arm if it were only allowed to fall from a little height. But the Gurkhas have a mode of striking which resembles the “drawing” cut off the broad sword, and which urges the sharp edge through flesh and bone alike.

To make a complete set every Gurkha knife (kukri)i must come with two small knives at the back. The two smaller knives used are of very similar form, but apparently of inferior metal. These are kept in little case attached to the side of the Kukri sheath, just as is the case with the knives attached to a Highlander’s dirk. Both small knife attached with the big Khukuri has their own purpose. One is used to sharpen the khukuri and the other is used as small knife to cut.

In the hands of an experienced wielder this knife is about as formidable a weapon as can be conceived. Like all really good weapons, it’s efficiency depends much more upon the skill that the strength of the wielder and thus it happens that the little Gurkha a mere boy in point of stature, will cut to pieces of gigantic adversary who does not understand his mode of onset. The Gurkha generally strikes upwards with the kukri, possibly in order to avoid wounding himself should his blow fail, and possibly because an upward cut is just the one that can be least guarded against.

“When we were engaged in the many wars in India, the Gurkha proved themselves our most formidable enemies, as since they have proved themselves most invaluable allies. Brave as lions, active as monkeys, and fierce as tigers, the lithe wiry little men came leaping over the ground to attack moving so quickly, and keeping so far apart from each other, the musketry was no use against them. When they came near the soldiers, they suddenly crouched to the ground, dive under the bayonets, struck upwards at the men with their kukris, ripping them open with a single blow, and then, after having done all the mischief in their power, darting off as rapidly as they had come. Until our men learned this mode of attack they were greatly discomfited by their little opponents, who got under their weapons, cutting or slashing with knives as sharp as razors, and often escaping unhurt from the midst of bayonets. They would also dash under the bellies of the officers’ horses, rip them open with one blow of the kukri, and aim another at the leg of the officer as he and his horse fell together.”

Late king Prithivi Narayan Shah was born in 1723 AD in Gorkha, mid-west district of Nepal. He was throne at the age of 20 after the sudden demise of his father. During his era, the modern Nepal what we know today was scattered into many small & large kingdoms. So with the mission to unite all kingdoms into one, he started conquering all kingdoms and eventually united Nepal in 1768 AD. The origin of Gurkha army also started from his reign.

It is also believe that his army were the first to use khukuri. They fought so fierce fully that they not only united Nepal but also won the heart of British Rulers ruling in India who were eyeing Nepal .With a Clever head & lions heart, Prithivi Narayan Shah became the first ever ruler of modern Nepal.