Kirat Period (800 BC - 300 AD)

Very little is known about this period in the history of Nepal. The Kirats ruled for about 1000 years and were ruled by a total of 28 kings during that time. The first and best remembered king was Yalambar. Legend credits him with meeting Indra, the lord of heaven, who ventured into the Valley in human guise. He had the dubious honor of being slain in the epic battle of the Mahabharata, in which gods and mortals fought alongside each other.

Another remarkable event during this period is the coming of Gautam Buddha in the time of the seventh king. The Buddha supposedly spent time in Patan, where he elevated the blacksmith caste to goldsmiths and bestowed upon them the name of his own clan, Sakya.

The great emperor of India, Ashoka, was also a visitor to Kathmandu in this period. As a follower of Buddhism, Ashoka visited Lumbini, the birthplace of Buddha, and erected stupas in Kathmandu. His daughter married a local prince and further spread the religion. As the Kirat dynasty came to an end in the valley, parts still remained in the eastern mountains where they are considered to be the forefathers of today’s Rai and Limbu castes.

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