Like all other countries of the world, Nepal has also its pre-historic period, shrouded in obscurity. Regarding the origin of Nepal which, in the pre-historic period, was taken to mean only the valley of Kathmandu, Swayambhu Puran and Nepal Mahatmya have it to say that to begin with, Nepal was a lake with no outlet of water whatsoever. The valley of Kathmandu remained under water till Manjushree, a Bodhisatwa (potential Buddha) who came from China on pilgrimage sometime in Tretayuga to pay unreserved homage to Swayambhu which appeared on the lotus that grew out of the seed thrown in the lake by Bipasvi Buddha who came to Nepal sometime in the golden age, cut a rock through which the water of the lake flowed out, making the valley habitable.
The authenticity of the legend, though to a certain extent, stands when it is put to the test of geographical and geological survey. Naghrad (abode of serpents), a name given to Ancient Nepal also goes to lend evidence to the fact that Nepal was once a lake. Ancient Nepal having thus come into existence was ruled over by the rulers of different tribes and clans which immigrated into the valley from time to time.
Manjushree, a Bodhisatwa
Manjushree not only made the valley habitable but also founded a town which extended from the hillock of Swayambhu to Guhyeswari and was named Manjupattan after him. He then returned to China after having made Dharmakar (who had accompanied Manjushree to Naghrada,) King of Manjupattan. Dharmakara ruled over the territory in his own way, but as he had no issue, he made Dharmapal his successor. Dharmapal is said to have come to Nepal with Krakuchhanda Buddha. After him Sudhanwa a descendant of Dharmapal, Kushadhoj brother of King Janaka, and some other kings ruled over the country successively.
Later on, Nepal is said to have been ruled over by Prachanda Deva from Gaur (present Bengal). He is said to have been sent to Nepal by Kankamuni Buddha who came to Nepal on pilgrimage. Basupur, Agnipur, Bayupur, Nagpur and Shantipur all shrines dedicated to the different elements of nature as Earth, Fire, Air, Water etc, which stand even to this day in the precincts of Swayambhu, are said to have been built by Prachanda Deva. After the death of Prachanda Deva, his son Shakti Deva ruled over Nepal.
After him Gunakama Deva and his son Simha Ketu ruled over the valley. Gunakama Deva is said to have founded the city of Kathmandu. According to some sources it was about 723 A.D. If we are to accept those sources, the city of Kathmandu was founded twelve hundred forty eight years ago. From this it can be affirmed that Gunakama Deva must have only extended the city and not founded it, but its authenticity still awaits research and investigation.
The time when the city of Kathmandu was first founded corresponds to the reign of Harsha Vardhan in northern India, and Pulkeshin II in southern India. China was then ruled over by Sui dynasty. It was about the time when the Great Wall of China was going to be reconstructed.
Though mention of Gopal Dynasty and Ahir Dynasty is found in the chronicles, Nepal enters into real historical era with the conquest of Kathmandu valley by the Kirantis. The Kirantis are said to have been the aborigines inhabiting Eastern Nepal and having their own administrative setup. Under the able leadership of their chieftain Yalambar the Kirantis defeated Bhuwan Singh; the last king in the Ahir Dynasty and brought
the Kathmandu valley under their sway. Yalambar is said to be the contemporary of the Pandavas. When the battles of Mahabharat were fought between the Kauravas and the Pandavas, Yalambar with a view to siding with the losing party went to witness the battles. Shree Krishna knowing the intention of Yalambar and the’ strength and unity of the Kirantis thought that the Mahabharat war would be unnecessarily prolonged incase Yalambar sided with the Kauravas. So by a clever stroke of diplomacy Krishna cut off Yalambara’s head.
It is said that Gautam Buddha visited Nepal proper during the regime of Jitedasta, the seventh ruler in the Kiranti Dynasty. Ashoka is said to have visited Nepal in about 250 B.C. during the regime of Sthunko, the fourteenth ruler of the Kiranti Dynasty. To commemorate his visit he got four “stupas” erected in four quarters of Lalitpattan. They exist even to this day. Ashoka’s visit to Kathmandu is testified even by the fact that he gave away his daughter Charumati (who accompanied him in his pilgrimage to Nepal) in marriage to Devapal, a Kshetriya prince. She founded the town of Devapatan in memory of her husband, Devapal. She also got a Vihar ( a nunnery ) erected for herself and it was called Charumati Vihar after her. The nunnery and its surrounding area are now known as Chabahil.