Gourd between two rocks
February 2, 2020 2:25 AM   Subscribe

Why did the British not colonize Nepal? A long article by Amish Raj Mulmi on how and why Nepal, which one of its rulers dubbed "a gourd between two rocks" (India and China), remained more or less independent through the colonial period.
posted by tavegyl (4 comments total) 20 users marked this as a favorite
I imagine geography also played a role, much as in the way that Napoleon/the Habsburgs/Prussia never absorbed Switzerland.
posted by acb at 3:52 AM on February 2 [1 favorite]

Yes, and I imagine that concessions made by Nepal eventually gave Britain all the advantages that would have accrued by an outright conquest, particularly once British conquests had secured an independent route to the Tibetan gold suppliers.

Wait, sorry, I got that by reading the article.
posted by Joe in Australia at 4:56 AM on February 2 [11 favorites]

Because it was there.
posted by srboisvert at 5:03 AM on February 2

The study of history merits a different answer. There was little fear of British military intervention in Nepal from the moment the British acquired its newly conquered territories of Kumaon, Garhwal and parts of Sikkim after the Anglo-Gorkha war; the difficulties of a military expedition in the hills of Nepal were clear to the British.

If you define "Nepal" as the periphery of the Gorkha Kingdom that the East India Company decided it didn't want (whether due to geography or the need not to antagonize China) then I guess it was "never colonized."

Nepal became, in effect, a tributary instead of a colony and though avoided calling itself a vassal state still famously contributed soldiers to the British empire, and the Gurkhas are still part of the UK's military today.
posted by snuffleupagus at 7:29 AM on February 2 [2 favorites]

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