The name "Gurkha" comes from the hill town of Gorkha from which originates from the hill principality Gorkha Kingdom, from which the Kingdom of Nepal expanded under Prithivi Narayan Shah who was the last ruler of the Gorkha Kingdom and claimed to be a Gorkhali. The Word behind of Gukhas is traced to the medieval Hindu warrior-saint Guru ‘Gorakhnath’ who has a historic shrine in Gorkha. The word itself derived from "Go-Raksha", "raksha" becoming "rakha". "Rakhawala" means "protector" and is derived from "raksha" as well.

Gurkhas are closely associated with the khukuri, a forward-curving Nepali knife, and have a reputation for fearless military prowess. In times past, it was said that once a khukri was drawn in battle, it had to "taste blood" - if not, its owner had to cut himself before returning it to its sheath.

the motto of the world-famous in Nepalese Gurkha soldiers is "Better to die than be a coward"

in 1815 During the Anglo-Nepalese War between the Gorkha Kingdom and the East India Company, the Gorkhali soldiers made an impression on the British, who called them Gurkhas. David Ochterlony and British political agent William Fraser were among the first to recognize the potential of Gurkha soldiers in British service. During the war, the British were keen to use defectors from the Gurkha army and employ them as irregular forces. His confidence in their loyalty was such that in April 1815 he proposed forming them into a battalion under Lt. Ross called the Nasiri regiment. This regiment, which later became the 1st King George’s Own Gurkha Rifles, saw action at the Malaun fort under the leadership of Lt. Lawtie, who reported to Ochterlony that he "had the greatest reason to be satisfied with their exertions".

About 5,000 men entered British service in 1815, most of whom were not just Gorkhalis but Kumaonis, Garhwalis and other Himalayan hill men. These groups, eventually lumped together under the term Gurkha, became the backbone of British Indian forces.

As well as Ochterlony’s Gurkha battalions, Fraser and Lt. Frederick Young raised the Sirmoor battalion, later to become the 2nd King Edward VII's Own Gurkha Rifles; an additional battalion--the Kumaon--was also raised, eventually becoming the 3rd Queen Alexandra's Own Gurkha Rifles. None of these men fought in the second campaign.

Gurkhas served as troops under contract to the East India Company in the Pindaree War of 1817, in Bharatpur in 1826 and the First and Second Anglo-Sikh Wars in 1846 and 1848.

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