The Rana era in Nepal was a period of autocratic control under the Rana family that lasted from 1846 to 1951. This era was distinguished by the consolidation of power by Rana prime ministers, who wielded greater influence than monarchs. Here’s a summary of the Rana rule in Nepal:

Rise to Power

Kot Massacre (1846): On September 14, 1846, Jung Bahadur Rana engineered the Kot Massacre, which marked the beginning of the Rana government. This violent episode resulted in the removal of multiple high-ranking officials and cemented Jung Bahadur Rana’s dominance over the realm.

Establishment of the Rana Dynasty: Following the massacre, Jung Bahadur declared himself Prime Minister and established a hereditary Rana prime ministership, thus displacing the Shah rulers.

Governance & Policies

Autocratic Rule: The Rana prime ministers exercised de facto power throughout Nepal, relegating the Shah rulers to status symbols. They consolidated control within their family by assigning members to crucial government positions.

Isolationist Foreign Policy: The Ranas followed an isolationist foreign policy, limiting Nepal’s connections with outside nations in order to protect their control and prevent external influences from undermining their authority.

Modernization Efforts: Despite their autocratic rule, the Ranas carried out various modernization projects. They implemented Western-style schooling, constructed infrastructure including as roads and bridges, and modernised the military.

Economic Exploitation: The Ranas used Nepal’s resources to their advantage, resulting in widespread poverty and restricted economic progress for the ordinary population.

Key Rana Prime Ministers

  • Jung Bahadur Rana (1846–1877): The founder of the Rana dynasty, recognised for his strong leadership and modernization endeavours.
  • Ranodip Singh Kunwar (1877-1885): Here, continued Jung Bahadur’s policies, but was killed in 1885.
  • Bir Shumsher Jung Bahadur Rana (1885-1901): He was known for his public works, including the construction of the first modern highways.
  • Chandra Shumsher Jung Bahadur Rana (1901–1929): Implemented a number of reforms, notably the abolition of slavery in 1924.
  • Mohan Shumsher Jung Bahadur Rana (1948–1951): The final Rana prime minister, whose reign ended with the democratic revolution.

Decline and Fall

Political Unrest: Growing public dissatisfaction, spurred by economic hardship and a lack of political freedom, led to increased calls for change.

Influence of India: Nepalese activists were inspired by political changes in neighbouring India, particularly the independence movement and subsequent democratic rule.

Revolution in 1951: The 1951 democratic movement resulted from a combination of internal unrest and external pressure, mainly from India. King Tribhuvan, with the backing of the Nepali Congress and India, successfully toppled the Rana rule.


Transition to Democracy: Following the demise of the Rana dictatorship, Nepal began its transition to democracy. King Tribhuvan was restored to full power, and a democratic government was constituted.

Legacy: The Rana period left an indelible mark on Nepalese society, politics, and infrastructure. Despite the autocratic leadership, the modernising efforts that began during this period established the groundwork for future prosperity.

The Rana era in Nepal is a watershed moment in the country’s history, showing a mix of autocratic control, modernization aspirations, and the eventual transition to democracy.