Indo-Nepal Border Dispute at Kalapani Explained

Main Debate:

India and Nepal, both party seem to agree with the point that Kali river is the demarcation as the border. Both party, however, seem to dissent upon the waterheads of Kali river.

By Sugauli treaty Limpiyadhura is the waterhead (origin) of Kali, so all the regions eastern to Limpiyadhura falls under Nepal.

But Nepal wants the borderline to be Lipukhola originating at Lipulekh (Kalapani) leaving all three villages Kuti, Nabi and Gunji to India upto Limpiadhura.

India stands on the point that Kali river is made by many sub-rivers and streams and it assumes the one coming from Tulsi Neurang is the exact origin. This implies all the regions to the west of Tulsi Neurang--which is 6 kilometers South-east of Lipulekh-- belong to India.

To further revelations, India has set up Tulsi Neurang as Kalapani and built a Kali Temple in the region just like in Lipulekh, the original Kalapani.


India Nepal Kalapani-Lipulekh Border disputed map
Disputed Lipulekh, Limpiadhura and Kalapani. Drawing: Rabindra Adhikary 

Timeline of Events:

1816 AD : Sugauli Treaty clearly mentions that Mahakali (or simply Kali ) river is the geographical demarcation that separates Nepal and India.

Article 5 of the treaty states: “The Rajah of Nepal renounces for himself, his heirs and successors, all claim to or connexon with the countries lying to the west of the river Kali and engages never to have any connexon with those countries or the inhabitants thereof.” This border river “Kali” is now called Mahakali in Nepal and Sarada in India. - The Rising Nepal

1837 AD: The first available hand-sketched map was drawn by JB Tasin, an Indian citizen, after nearly two decades of Sugauli Treaty. In that map, Limpiyadhura is shown as the origin of Kali river.

1855 AD: The survey department of India drew the official map in October in which is also shown Limpiyadhura as the origin of Kali river. This map was signed by erstwhile deputy surveyor general of East India Company and Britain's surveyor general and was the second edition of the one published in 1840 AD .

1856 AD: all the maps published before and on 1856 AD confirms that Limpiadhura is the source of origin of Kali river.

1860 AD onwards: most British maps started to show border as the Kali river flowing down from the Lipu Lekh.

1879 AD : the map issued in this year further shifted the border to the east following the ridge coming down from the Tinker Pass.

1903 AD: Qing Dynasty of China published 'Old Atlas of China" that confirms North-East to Limpiyadhura, the origin of Kali, is Nepal. It is scribbled in the map.

1952 AD (9 June): Indian Armed military were deployed in the northern frontier of Nepal

1957 AD: India deputed Special Police Force (SPF) in Kalapani area

1962 AD : one month long Indo-China war also called as Sino-Inidan war occurred over the Himalayan disputed lands. After the Chinese victory, the SPF were retracted and India complied to station India Tibet Border Police (ITBP), thereby indirectly influencing the area. In 1962 AD, King Mahendra assumed Nepal's power house after a political coup. According to one of cabinet members Rishi Kesh Shah (who was the finance minster back then) of the King Mahendra's government, the king was notified about the occupancy of Indian Army in the Kalapani border. The same year China defeated India over the disputed area and the same year China opened Kathmandu- Kodari highway despite the opposition of India. Rishi Kesh Shah tells that due to these dual tensions poised by Nepal King Mahendra kept muted not to further enrage India despite his knowledge of Indian encroachment.   

1969 AD (20 April): Nepal was successful in removing 17 Indian check posts that were along the northern borders. But, Darchula border check post was not removed even then as to why was that is a mystery.

1979 AD (November 5) : Border treaty of 1961 October 5 and border protocol of 1979 November 5 signed with China government cites that Lipu Bhanjyang is the tri-junctional border between the three countries. 

1981 AD: Nepal raised its first voice against the Kalapani encroachment

1988 AD : The agreement signed between foreign ministers of China and Nepal in the presence of Chinese prime minister also validated the same frontier at Lipu Bhanjyang to be the demarcation

2008 AD: On 25 November Pranab Mukherjee, the then external affair minister of India visited Nepal and told that India and Nepal requires formal dialogues to contain the disputes over Susta and Kalapani borders. This confirms that, to some extent, India has realized that they are encroaching Nepal.

2015 AD: Nepal put objection over an Indo-China agreement that mentioned Lipulekh pass as the bilateral trade route because they did not consulted Nepal.

2019 AD : India issued a political map that included Kalapani in its territory. Nepal called out its objection to issue revised map but India dismissed the request saying that it correctly portrayed its territory.

2020 AD (month of May) : India's defense minister Rajnath Singh formally inaugurated the Lipulekh road that is supposed to connect Tibet's Kailash Mansarobar and other nearby abodes for touristic and business purposes. The proposed road is 80 kilometers long. All the political parties of Nepal seem to agree upon this point that India has clearly encroached Nepali land. Foreign minister Pradip Gyawali handed over a diplomatic note of dissension to Indian Ambassador to Nepal Vinay Mohan Kwatra.

In May 2020, APF border outpost outpost has been established by the Nepal government near Kalapani to secure the regions. Twenty five personnel were deployed under the command of police Inspector Mili Bahadur Chhand at Chhangru, Byas Rural Municipality.

India NEpal Border Issue: west darchula
Darchula district: Lipulekh as tri-junction between Nepal, India and China 


          1.     Paudyal G. Border dispute between Nepal and India. Researcher 2013. TU

2.     India’s new map is false: Kalapani is Nepali territory. Telegraph Nepal. Accessed on May 13, 2020

3.     India's cartographic manipulation of Nepali territory: a case of Limpiyadhura to Lipulekh. The Rising Nepal accessed on May 13, 2020.

4.     Cowan S. The Indian checkposts, Lipulekh and Kalapani. The Record 2015.

5.     Nepal Border Posts abandoned by India. Daytona Beach Morning Journal 1969

6.     Chaudhary A. Lipulekh, Limpiyadhura and Kalapani: trying to understand the dispute. The Himalayan Times. May 11 2020.

7. Why Nepal is angry over India's new road in disputed border area? Al Jajeera. 11 May 2020. Accessed on 13 May 2020.

8. Khanal CK. Diplomatic offensive a must to solve KAlapani issue. The Rising Nepal. 15 November 2019. Accessed on 13 May 2020.

9. APF border outpost set up near Kalapani. May 13 2020 The Himalayan Times. Accessed on 14 May 2020

10. Nayan S. The Kalapani conundrum: Indo-Nepal diplomatic rifts. NIICE. Accessed on 14 May 2020. 

A video that talks about the border issues in extrinsic details can be found here: (language: Nepali)

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