Gurkha

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Gurkha

(go͝or`kə), ethnic group of NepalNepal
, independent nation (2005 est. pop. 27,677,000), c.54,000 sq mi (139,860 sq km), central Asia. Landlocked and isolated by the Himalayas, Nepal is bordered on the west, south, and east by India, and on the N by the Tibet region of China. Katmandu is the capital.
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 and neighboring areas. They claim descent from the RajputsRajputs
[Sanskrit,=son of a king], dominant people of Rajputana, an historic region now almost coextensive with the state of Rajasthan, NW India. The Rajputs are mainly Hindus (although there are some Muslim Rajputs) of the warrior caste; traditionally they have put great value
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 of N India and entered Nepal from the west after being driven from India. They conquered (early 16th cent.) the small Nepalese state of Gurkha (or Gorkha) and henceforth called themselves Gurkhas. They expanded eastward, and by the mid-18th cent. had established their authority over all of Nepal. Their invasion of Tibet in 1791 brought Chinese retaliation, and a war (1814–16) with the British in India resulted in bringing strong British influence to Nepal. The Gurkhas, predominantly Tibeto-Mongolians, speak Khas, a Rajasthani dialect of Sanskritic origin. Under the Gurkha dynasty, Hinduism became the state religion of Nepal. Gurkhas in the region around DarjeelingDarjeeling
or Darjiling
, town (1991 pop. 73,062), West Bengal state, NE India, near the border of Sikkim state. Its most famous product is tea, a major cash crop in the region.
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 in West Bengal state, India, have agitated for a separate state. Gurkhas have served in the armies of India and of Great Britain; 33 battalions served alongside the British in World War I, and 45 battalions in World War II. Gurkha soldiers bear the famed kukri, a short curved sword.

Bibliography

See studies by H. James and D. Sheil-Small (1965) and D. L. Bolt (1967, repr. 1969).

Gurkha

a member of a Hindu people, descended from Brahmins and Rajputs, living chiefly in Nepal, where they achieved dominance after being driven from India by the Muslims