The ancient history of Nepal is dated back to 3000 B.C. Gopal dynasty, Sakya Dynasty, Bidheha dynasty, Mahispal dynasty, Soma dynasty, Kirata dynasty, and Lichhavi Dynasty are the dynasties of Ancient History of Nepal. However, Gopal dynasty, Mahispal dynasty, Kirata dynasty, and Lichhavi dynasty are the principal dynasties of ancient Nepal.
i. The Gopala ( Cow heards) :
The ancient history of Nepal begins with the Gopals, who were the cowherd tribes who were supposed to have migrated from the south. As their migration to Nepal was related to Lord Krishna of Mahabharat times. They must have occupied Kathmandu valley during 900 BC- 700 BC. They were nomads. The settlements were believed to have established in Kirtipur, Thankot, Balambu, Tistung and Palung areas.
First and Last King:
-Even in the lack of records, Bhuktaman was the first and Yakshagupta being the last king of Gopal dynasty.
ii. Mahispals (Buffalo heard) :
Mahispals succeeded Gopals in the Kathmandu valley. They were also called Abhiras. Their main occupation was buffalo keeping. They must be migrated into the Katmandu valley and later succeeded to the throne. They were followers of Vedic religion but later Siddhartha Gautam introduced the Buddhist religion. The main occupation of this era was agriculture, animal husbandry, and some local industry.
First and last King:
First- Bhul Singh ( rule about 49 years)
Second: Jaya Singh (ruled for 21 years)
Third: Bhuwan Singh (ruled for 41 years)
iii. Rule of Kirants Kings ( BC 625- 100 AD)
After the rule of Gopals and Mahispals, the domination of Nepal went into the hands of Kirantas who also played a major role for shaping Nepalese society and in providing a direction to the Nepalese society and administration.
The emergence and the advent of the Kiranta rule marked the end of the prehistoric era and the commencement of the historical period of Nepal. Kirants are mentioned in the Mahabharata, they are of Tibeto Burman families living between the Himalayas and Gangetic plain. They have migrated Nepal from the eastern part. They succeeded the Mahispals. King Yalambar who came from east attacked Bhuwan Singh, defeated him and established his rule. He ruled 13 years.
Although unclear, 26 or 29 Kirati ruler ruled and were contemporary with Pandavas, the Buddha, and Asoka. During the rule of Jitedasti, the Buddha visited Nepal and during the rule, Sthunko Emperor Ashoka visited Kathmandu and he gave his daughter Charumati to Devapal. Trade and commerce flourished under Kirants. Nepal had a trade relation with China, Tibet, and India. The export mainly consisted of wool, woolen goods, wood, and herbs.
Hinduism remained the main religion. They worshipped Lord Shiva in the form of Kirateshowr Mahed, They also worshiped tree, rivers, rocks, and lighting. The flags of Kirants consisted of the picture of a lion. They developed a number of settlement areas such as Matatritha, Shankhamul, Thankot, Khopase, Sanga, Teku, etc. Under the influence of Vrijji Sangha, the Kirat had established a democratic political system in ancient Nepal, which is, later on, was turned to a monarchy.
Yalambar, Humati, Jitedasti, Sthunko
iii. Rule of Lichhavis Kings ( AD 100- 880 AD) :
- The Lichhavis period is known as the golden period in the history of Nepal.
- They were defeated by Maurya King and fled northwards to Nepal from Vaishali during the time of Gautam Buddha as a refugee.
- They came and settled in the western part of Nepal and established a very prosperous and capable administration in western Nepal before finally capturing the Kathmandu valley.
- Jaya dev I was regarded as the founder of Lichhavi dynasty.
- Jaya dev II, the famous Lichhavi King had inscribed the chronology of his dynasty.
- Mandev I was the most widely known kings. The inscription inscribed by king Mandev was the first reliable evidence of the history of Nepal. He extended and maintained his kingdom up to the Gandaki River in the west, the Himalayas in the north, Koshi in the east and Terai in the South.
- Amshuvarma was an able administrator. He became king ending Lichhavi dynasty ( He was from Thakuri family)
- He opened trade routes to Tibet. One of his daughters Bhrikuti was married to the Tibetan ruler Songsten Gampo. She was instrumental in spreading the teaching of the Buddha in Tibet and China.
- The last king of Lichhavi was Raghavadeva.
Administration and Political System:
Although the kings were the final authority, suggestions were sought from people. A kind of ministry existed, and the country was divided into several administrative units. The system was called Panchali. Power was decentralized. Justice was carried out through the legal codes.
The Lichhavis had very good diplomatic relations with India, Tibet, and China. The marriage of the princes Bhrikuti was a good step. During this period culture, religion, society and are influenced the lifestyle of the people.