Bada Kaji Amar Singh Thapa was born in 1749 AD at Srinachok, Gorkha as the youngest son to Bagh Bhim Singh Thapa who was Nepalese Umrao (equivalent to a commander) and was very active during the Unification of Nepal. He belonged to Bagale Clans. Bagale Thapa or Bagale Clans is a prominent Kshatriya clan within Khas Thapa.
Early Life of Bada Kaji
Amar Singh Thapa was put under military training at the young age of 8 years. He was supremely brave and skillful in the art of war. He fought in a battle in the Makawanpur district just at the age of 11. For his bravery and rage, he received the ‘Bada Kaji’ title at the age of 17. And after that Amar Singh Thapa was handed over to the governor’s office in the kingdom of King Rana Bahadur Shah. There, he worked with the sincere and patriotic emperor to fulfill his demanding job
Unification of Nepal
Bada Kaji Amar Singh Thapa led many conquest battles of Western provinces in the Unification of Nepal. He was leading the conquest of Langur Gadhi in Gadhwal Region before the outbreak of the second Sino-Nepalese War (1791–92). He reinforced back to Nuwakot traveling around 1000 km in about a month, in defense of Nepalese forces during the second Sino-Nepalese War. In July 1804, he along with Kaji Dalbhanjan Pande informed the Company’s in-charge Daroga about the orders of the takeover of Butwal plains and the continuation of honoring Palpa’s former obligations from the King of Gorkha.
After 1806, the territories of Palpa were kept under the military governorship of him and Kaji Dalbhanjan. They set up plans to establish full Gorkhali authority over the lands by appointing officials and reviewing land grants. The general administration of the region was looked over and revenue collection was regulated by them. He dissolved the Maafi (rent-free) land grants to Jaisi Brahmins in Butwal for the continuation of payments to Gorkhali soldiers.
He commanded the Gorkhali Army with Sardar Bhakti Thapa and Hasti Dal Shah in 1804 against Garhwal Kingdom due to the Garhwal’s discontinuance of annual payments to the Kingdom of Nepal. The army succeeded in annexing Garhwal to Nepalese territory extending the territory of Nepal up to the Sutlej river in the west.
Bada Kaji commanded his troops further to the Kangra fort of King Sansar Chand. They rested on Jwalamukhi and ultimately captured the fort. King Sansar Chand aided by 1500 soldiers of Sikh Maharaja Ranjit Singh fought against the forces of Amar Singh at Ganesh Valley and retreated back only to attack in the evening. During the attack, Gorkhali Army lost many positions and Bada Kaji Amar returned back to the Sutlej river as per agreement on 24 August 1809. The Gurkhas suffered a strike on their pride but were helpless against the superior Westernized Sikh forces.
Bada Kaji Amar Singh advised Mukhtiyar (Chief Authority) of Nepal, Bhimsen Thapa, to avoid war with the British because he waged war in person and knew the hardships of war. He was one of the senior Bharadars, the chief Officers, to have opposed the Anglo-Nepalese War due to the prevalence of weak administration on the western front suggesting a possible revolt from the general people of the newly conquered western front.
Anglo Nepal War
Amar Singh Thapa was 63 years old when the British-Nepal war happened. During the Anglo-Nepal war, Amar Singh Thapa was in charge of all the wars on the western fronts (from the Jamuna to the Sutlej River). He was stationed in the fort of Ramgarh. On the side of the British invading force, Major General Sir David Ochtorloney was the commander of the western fronts with 7000 troops.
A year before the war, the sons of Sir Ochtorloney and Amar Singh Thapa had sworn to maintain friendly relations. Several times during the course of the war, Ochtorloney requested Amar Singh Thapa to surrender before the British Army. In doing so, the British assured to reward Amar Singh with a huge plot of land in the Terai region (Southern Nepal), and in the kingdoms of Kumaun and Garhwal. Amar Singh Thapa rejected the British proposal.
Despite all the efforts made by the Nepalese troops to defend their territory, the war went in favor of the well-equipped British regiments. Amar Singh Thapa received the news of the defeats of the Nepalese force on various war grounds and he was thus discouraged. He made a treaty with the British force and gave up Malau. When such a great warrior, like Bada Kaji withdrew, then Prime Minister Bhimsen Thapa decided to sign the Sugauli Treaty. Amar Singh Thapa was against the treaty and wanted to wait for a suitable time to recover the loss. But Nepal was forced to sign the Treaty of Sugauli on March 4, 1816.
Agreement Between Bada Kaji Amar Singh Thapa and Major General Ochterlony (15 May, 1815)
In consideration of the high rank and character of Kaji Amar Singh Thapa, and of the skill, bravery, and fidelity with which he had defended the country committed to his charge, it was agreed.
- That Kaji Amar Singh Thapa, with the troops now in Rajgarh, shall march out and retain their arms and accouterments, the color of their respective crops, two guns and all private proper, which shall be duly respected and preserved, and every attention and delicacy observed in respect to the Zanana of the Kaji, and every person under his authority.
- In consideration, also, of the gallant conduct of Kaji Ranjor Singh Thapa, it is agreed that he shall likewise march out of the fort of Jaithak with two hundred men, who are to retain their arms, colors and one gun, with the Bharadar (chief Officers) and their followers, about three hundred more in number, unarmed, with his own and their private property which shall be respected, and the sanctity of the Zanana preserved.
- Bada Kaji Amar Singh Thapa and Kaji Ranjor Singh Thapa with their property and followers, are at liberty to proceed by the route of Thaneswar, Hardwar and Nijababad to join the troops eastward of the river Sarju or Kali, or by whichever rout they determine to proceed to that destination. Conveyance shall be provided for the transportation of their property to the confines of the Nepal territory.
- Bada Kaji Amar Singh Thapa and Kaji Ranjor Singh Thapa shall be at liberty to meet whenever they please.
- All the troops in the service of Nepal, with the exception of those granted to the personal honor of the Bada Kaji Amar Singh and Ranjor Singh, will be at liberty to enter into the service of the British Government, if it is agreeable to themselves and the British Government choose to accept their services, and those who are not employed will be maintained on a specific allowance by the British Government till peace is concluded between the two States.
- Bada Kaji Amar Singh Thapa, on his part, agrees to leave the fort of Malaon, whenever bears and other conveyance are prepared for his private property.
- Bada Kaji Amar Singh Thapa also agrees to send immediate orders for the evacuation and delivery, to persons properly authorized, of the forts of Bhylee (Inkee), Subba too, Morree, Jaithak, Jagatgarh, Rowaheen, and all other forts and fortresses now held by the Nepal troops between Jumna and Sutlej rivers. The garrisons of all which forts, strongholds etc shall enjoy their private property unmolested, and the arms and warlike stores in each shall be left in deposit, for the future decision of the Right Honourable the Governor General; with exception to such among them as are related to Bada Kaji Amar Singh Thapa by kindred, about eighty- three men, who shall be at liberty to retain their arms and accouterments.
- Bada Kaji Amar Singh Thapa also agrees to send immediate orders to Kaji Bakhtawar Singh for the evacuation of the territory of Garhwal, to deliver over the forts, etc. in that district to the Officers of the British Government and to proceed to Nepal by the Kumaon route, with their garrisons, all public property including warlike stores, accompanied by a “Chaprasi” (Peon) with pass on the part of the British Government.
Grief-stricken Amar Singh Thapa voluntarily retired and died on a pilgrimage to Gosaikunda in 1816.