GURKHA (pronounced goorka; from Sans. gau, a cow, and raks, to protect), the ruling Hindu race in Nepal. The Gurkhas, or Gurkhalis, claim descent from the rajas of Chitor in Rajputana. When driven out of their own country by the Mahommedan invasion, they took refuge in the hilly districts about Kumaon, whence they gradually invaded the country to the eastward as far as Gurkha, Noakote and ultimately to the valley of Nepal and even Sikkim. They were stopped by the English in an attempt to push south, and the treaty of Segauli, which ended the Gurkha War of 1814, definitely limited their territorial growth. The Gurkhas of the present day remain Hindus by religion, but show in their appearance a strong admixture of Mongolian blood. They make splendid infantry soldiers, and by agreement with their government about 20,000 have been recruited for the Gurkha regiments of the Indian army. As a rule they are bold, enduring, faithful, frank, independent and self-reliant. They despise other Orientals, but admire and fraternize with Europeans, whose tastes in sport and war they share. They strongly resemble the Japanese, but are of a sturdier build. Their national weapon is the kukri, a heavy curved knife, which they use for every possible purpose.
See Capt. Eden Vansittart, Notes on the Gurkhas (1898); and P. D. Bonarjee, The Fighting Races of India (1899).
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