Sugauli Treaty
Bhimsen Thapa's Gorkha troops (right) at Segauli, (c. 1849)
Drafted2 December 1815
Signed4 March 1816
LocationSugauli, India
Conditionone fourth of Nepalese controlled territory was ceded to British East India Company
  • Parish Bradshaw
  • Guru Gajaraj Joshi
Full text
Treaty of Sugauli at Wikisource
The territorial effects of the Treaty of Sugauli (1816)
Map of Hindostan or India (1814) by Mathew Carey.

The Treaty of Sugauli (also spelled Sugowlee, Sagauli and Segqulee), the treaty that established the boundary line of Nepal, was signed on 4 March 1816 between the East India Company and Guru Gajraj Mishra following the Anglo-Nepalese War of 1814–16.[1][2]


Following the Unification of Nepal under Prithvi Narayan Shah, Nepal attempted to enlarge its domains, conquering much of Sikkim in the east and, in the west, the basins of Gandaki and Karnali and the Uttarakhand regions of Garhwal and Kumaon. This brought them into conflict with the British, who controlled directly or indirectly the north Indian plains between Delhi and Calcutta. A series of campaigns termed the Anglo-Nepalese War occurred in 1814–1816. In 1815 the British general Ochterlony evicted the Nepalese from Garhwal and Kumaon across the Kali River,[3][4] ending their 12-year occupation, which is remembered for its brutality and repression.[5][6]

Octherlony offered peace terms to the Nepalese demanding British suzerainty in the form of a British resident and the delimitation of Nepal's territories corresponding roughly to its present-day boundaries. The Nepalese refusal to accede to the terms led to another campaign the following year, targeting the Kathmandu Valley, after which the Nepalese capitulated.[7][8]


Historian John Whelpton writes:

Negotiations for a general settlement produced a draft which was initialled at Sagauli in Bihar in December 1815 and required Nepal to give up all territories west and east of its present-day borders, to surrender the entire Tarai and to accept a permanent British representative (or 'resident') in Kathmandu. The Nepalese government initially balked at these terms, but agreed to ratify them in March 1816 after Ochterloney occupied the Makwanpur Valley only thirty miles from the capital.[9]

Geographic Context

Nepal boasts a salt trade route to Tibet that has been in installment for many decades. This was significant to the economic well-being of the Kathmandu valley. As the British East India Company had profited from Indian trade routes, Nepal's trade routes were desirable to conquer.

Nepal was a relatively newly established nation that did not have well-established boundaries with lax enforcement around the supposed borders. In conjunction with its frustration with this, and its desire for the trade routes, the British East Indian Company declared war against Nepal known as the Anglo-Nepalese War from 1814 to 1816.[10] Nepal's advantage lied in their highly esteemed army of men known as the “Gurkhas” who were also of interest to the company. As a smaller and less developed country, Nepal eventually relented in the war and agreed upon a ceasefire under the terms and conditions of the Sugauli Treaty.[11]

Reasons the Treaty was Signed

Three of the main goals of the company were to employ Nepal's impressive army, establish a presence of supervision in the Nepali court, and utilise its trading routes to Tibet.[12] Naturally, the decision to sign the treaty was not treated with full acceptance by the Nepali court and roused a large point of controversy. Bhimsen Thapa, Nepal's prime minister at the time “realised that the best way to ensure Nepal’s continued freedom from interference was to grant the governor general’s basic desire, a secure and trouble-free border”. In attempts to mitigate the devastation to Nepal's sovereignty and security, the treaty was signed.[13]

From the British perspective, the bureaucratic efforts of colonising Nepal were impractical in comparison to placing certain aspects under British employment.[14]

Effects of the Treaty

The treaty stipulated that Nepal's government structure be without external interference and that aside from the singular British residence in the Nepali court, their national affairs would not be compromised. In addition to the benefit of Nepal's continued sovereign independence, an alliance was established between the two governments.[15]


The treaty saw three decades of peace following its implementation, however, other issues began to arise starting in 1840.  

“An army mutiny over proposed pay reductions almost turned into an attack on the British residency because the soldiers were led to believe that the cuts had been forced on the Nepalese government by the British”[16] in June 1840"

This followed as a result of suspicions that arose in the Nepali court that its independence in internal government affairs was being infringed upon.[17] Another incidence of alarm occurred in 1842 during a debt lawsuit over an Indian Merchant, Kasinath Mull. The British resident in the Nepalese court, Brian Hodgson appeared hostile and assertive, implicating attempted control over the independence of decision in the court. Through these issues, the success of the treaty's attempt to buffer tensions may still be debated.[18]

Boundary Treaty of 1860

In 1857, the Indian Mutiny began a rebellion that was declared the First War of Independence against British rule in India and was fought by the Indian army employed under the British.[19] During this time, a division of Gurkha soldiers was sent to the war in support of the British and aided in its success, establishing a friendlier form of diplomacy that ultimately called for a revision in the Sugauli Treaty that panned more positively in favor of Nepal's independence and territorial integrity. This would be called the Boundary Treaty of 1860.[20]

Ongoing disputes

Among the border dispute of the Indo-Nepal boundary, the most significant are in the Susta and Kalapani regions.[21] The two regions cover some 40 km of the Indo-Nepal border.

See also


  1. ^ "Original copies of both Sugauli Treaty and Nepal-India Friendship Treaty are missing". Retrieved 27 May 2020.
  2. ^ "Treaty of Sagauli | British-Nepalese history [1816]". Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved 27 May 2020.
  3. ^ Whelpton, A History of Nepal (2005), p. 41-42.
  4. ^ Rose, Nepal – Strategy for Survival (1971), pp. 83–85: "Ochterlony forced Amar Singh Thapa to agree at Malaun to terms under which the Nepali army retired with their arms, and the territory between the Kali and Sutlej rivers came under the control of the British."
  5. ^ Whelpton, A History of Nepal (2005), p. 58.
  6. ^ Oakley, E. Sherman (1905), Holy Himalaya: The Religion, Traditions, and Scenery of a Himalayan Province (Kumaon and Garhwal), Oliphant Anderson & Ferrier, pp. 124–125 – via
  7. ^ Whelpton, A History of Nepal (2005), p. 41-42: "The Nepalese government initially balked at these terms, but agreed to ratify them in March 1816 after Ochterloney occupied the Makwanpur Valley only thirty miles from the capital."
  8. ^ Rose, Nepal – Strategy for Survival (1971), pp. 87–88: "[In 1816] With the collapse of the main defense line, the Darbar quickly dispatched Chandra Sekhar Upadhyaya to Ochterlony's camp with a copy of the Sugauli treaty bearing the seal of the Maharaja."
  9. ^ Whelpton, A History of Nepal (2005), p. 42.
  10. ^ Cartwright, Mark. "Anglo-Nepalese War". World History Encyclopedia. Retrieved 16 March 2023.
  11. ^ Cartwright, Mark. "Anglo-Nepalese War". World History Encyclopedia. Retrieved 16 March 2023.
  12. ^ @therecord. "Why did the British not colonize Nepal? - The Record". Retrieved 16 March 2023.
  13. ^ Stiller, Ludwig F. (1976). The Silent Cry: The People of Nepal, 1816-1839. Sahayogi Prakashan.
  14. ^ @therecord. "Home - The Record". Retrieved 16 March 2023.
  15. ^ "Analytics2Action [licensed for non-commercial use only] / Sughauli Treaty of 1815: Full Text". Retrieved 16 March 2023.
  16. ^ Whelpton, John (17 February 2005). A History of Nepal. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-80470-7.
  17. ^ Whelpton, John (17 February 2005). A History of Nepal. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-80470-7.
  18. ^ Whelpton, John (17 February 2005). A History of Nepal. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-80470-7.
  19. ^ "Indian Mutiny | History, Causes, Effects, Summary, & Facts | Britannica". Retrieved 16 March 2023.
  20. ^ "How Nepal Got Its Borders". Retrieved 16 March 2023.
  21. ^ Stephen Groves (22 September 2014). "India and Nepal Tackle Border Disputes". The Diplomat. Archived from the original on 29 March 2017. Retrieved 28 March 2017.