Nepal was not always independent, it is a misconception. After signing the Sugauli Treaty in 1816, Nepal lost its autonomous power: the foreign policy was under the guidance of East India Company (EIC) and the internal affairs were interfered through the appointed Resident Minister by EIC. The Sugauli Treaty also resulted in ceding of two-third of land area into EIC.
It was not until 1923 that Nepal was independent and autonomous again. It was all possible because of Chandra Shumsher JBR, the 5th Rana Prime Minister of Nepal. Despite being infamous as murderer, despotic and conservative, he is accredited with many reforms brought during his tenure. Most importantly, his adept diplomacy earned Nepal its independence and sovereignty. In 1921, when Edward VIII, Prince of Wales, was visiting India and Nepal, Chandra Shumsher proposed to abandon Sugauli Treaty and sign a new treaty which would gain Nepal its legitimacy of independence and international recognition. The Treaty of Peace and Friendship was later signed in 1923.
Chandra Shumsher is the only Rana Prime Minister to visit Europe after Jung Bahadur Rana. He had extended his friendship with France, another superpower at that time. After his visit to Europe, he felt deep embarrassment seeing the backwardness of his country. He then started to modernize with his reforms: he abolished the “Sati Pratha”, he made it illegal to kill a person for witchcraft. The money from the treasury of Pashupatinath was used to abolish the slavery.
The establishment of Tri-Chandra College in 1916, Chandra Military hospital in 1925 can still be seen carrying his name. Likewise, Chandra canal was, the first irrigation canal, was built in 1922. Nepal’s first hydro power plant, the second in Asia, was built in 1911 at Pharping and is functional till date. The first railway track was laid on 1927 from Raxaul to Amlekhgunj under Nepal Government Railway.
In addition to these he also built a marvel during his reign in 1908, which is considered as the largest palace in Asia, Singha Durbar. It was initially built, for private purpose, with 1700 rooms and later decreased to 1200 rooms. The rooms and halls were decorated with the exotic foreign items and was used for the residency of Rana Prime Minister. The palace compound to house government offices. The palace was engulfed with fire in 1973 , all wings except front wing was destroyed and was rebuilt on the old foundation. The recent earthquake of 2015 has rendered it unsafe.
Chandra Shumsher was actually praise worthy ruler with his exceptional diplomatic policy. Diamond Shumsher Rana, the author of Seto Bagh, has depicted him as the ambitious and cunning young man with an excellent command over english language. Whenever we call ourselves proud Nepali and boast the history of Nepal, we must be thankful to the deeds of Chandra Shumsher Jung Bahadur Rana.