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Practice Foreign Post prior the Agreement of 1937

Printed From: Rainer's Stampcorner
Category: Nepal
Forum Name: Nepal Postmarks and Postal History
Forum Description: Please use for the discussion of Postmarks and Postal History
Printed Date: 19 December 2018 at 3:12am
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Topic: Practice Foreign Post prior the Agreement of 1937
Posted By: Herbert
Subject: Practice Foreign Post prior the Agreement of 1937
Date Posted: 10 February 2014 at 9:03pm
I have recently obtained the postcard pictured below which, I believe, is associated with the practice describted in the “Handbook for Gurkhas - Captain C. J. Morris, 1935" regarding the system of foreign posts prior the conclusion of the Postal Agreement of 1937. To facilitate, I cite the relevant paragraph of the translation which Mr. J. B. Manandhar had published in POSTAL HIMAL No.37 (1st Quarter 1984):

" ... The Nepalese officer at Bethari in Western Nepal, collects letters & telegrams daily from Nautanwa and despatches them to the particular places of Palpa district. There is no doubt that letters sent via Kathmandu will not be speedier than the ones forwarded via the routes prescribed below. The letter should be addressed to: The Bada Hakim, Bethari, Via Nautanwa Post Office, District Gorakhpur, U.P. … “

c/o The Nepal Agent.
P.O. Nautanwa.
Dt Gorakhpur.
(no other postmarks on the back)

I would greatly appreciate any additional information, opinions or comments. 
Thanks, Herbert Mailänder

Posted By: Herbert Mailänder
Date Posted: 17 February 2014 at 1:56pm

Reflecting further on the theme, I was intrigued by the unusual address suggested by the Captain. Ensured that „BADA HAKIM“ was the feudal title of the District Governor, seems clear that "Nepalese Officer at Bethari" should not be referred to a postal authority but that the service was performed by the political authority of the Governor of Bethari District, rectius his staff.

With this in mind, seems to have to assume that the service was not extended to the general public but restricted to certain categories of governmental interest, like the officers and men of the Gurkha regiments and, of course, also the members of the Rana dynasty..

Any comments or opinions would be greatly appreciated, 

Herbert Mailänder

Posted By: gemtree
Date Posted: 19 February 2014 at 7:29am

I believe that your conjectures are correct.  I have several covers from Nepalese government offices offices in some of the more remote border towns that were carried across the border and sent via the Indian postal system to Birganj and then to Kathmandu.  The more round about route using the railroad network in India was undoubtedly much faster than the more direct route using the mountainous foot trails through Nepal.  Obviously there was an established messenger service to transport such office mail across the border; and I assume it operated in both directions.  My earliest such cover was from the Jhapa Revenue Office via Digabank India to Kathmandu and is dated 1908. 

On pages 68 and 69 of his postal history book, Dr. Shrestha lists 13 such cross border exchange points that were used prior to 1937.  Oddly, the crossing that you show is not listed although it would seem to have logically been an important one.
The fact that your cover is from a military supply house is particularly significant since there was a major armory, arms foundry, gun powder factory and concentration of troops at Palpa. 
I have included a page from my collection showing a classic cover from the Palpa armory.
Regards, Ed Gosnell


Posted By: Herbert Mailänder
Date Posted: 20 February 2014 at 7:52am
Dear Ed,

I thank for your reply, especially for the very interesting Palpa information. 

Herbert Mailänder

Posted By: Bruno LE PEUT
Date Posted: 08 November 2014 at 3:25pm
Dear Herbert and Ed,

I have some covers from Nepalese government offices from border towns carried to India and sent via the Indian postal system to government offices in Kathmandu or to Nepal border towns government offices. Most of the covers to Kathmandu are addressed to the Maharajah of Nepal. The earliest cover I have is from Nepalganj via Jamnaha, Bahraich to Kathmandu in 1881.
I have also some covers from Nepal to Nepal via India from 1893 to 1936. On most of the covers there is the name of the sender. I don't know if it's somebody from a government office or a private sender. 
On a cover from 1917 from Nepalganj to KTM via Rupaidiha, there is the name of the sender followed by "℅ Babu Bhairah Prasad, Nepalganj", may be the name of the agent who carry the mail to Indian side.
In the book of Eden Vansittart (the Gurkhas, 1906) this information is interesting :
"Letters sent for delivery through the Nepal P.O. should be enclosed in two covers. The inner cover should be addressed in Parbatia to its destination in Nepal with a Nepalese stamp affixed to it. The outer cover should be addressed in English or Vernacular to the Post Master, the Residency, Nepal, with the requisite British postage stamp affixed. All such letters received by the Post Master, Nepal, will be transferred without delay to the Nepal state P.O. for transmission."
May be only official covers from this period survived because they stayed in the archives of the government offices and the King Palace. The covers from the private senders were destroyed by the postmaster of the British Residency in Kathmandu.
I think that the service of sending letters through India was open to public. It would be interesting to find covers from Kathmandu to another city of Nepal with the inscriptions of the address of the sender from a border town of India.
After 1937 the Nepal stamps were valid for sending a letter from Nepal to India, also from Nepal to Nepal via India. The letters sent from Nepal border towns to Kathmandu via India continued, may be because it was not possible to send registered letters with Nepal stamps to or via India. I have covers from Nepal to Nepal via India from 1937 to 1960.

This postal history of letters from Nepal to Nepal via India is very interesting. But there is so little informations about it. Only the covers can tell us the truth.

I you have any comments, I would be happy to have your opinion.



Posted By: Herbert Mailänder
Date Posted: 09 November 2014 at 6:22pm
Dear Bruno,

thank for your comment and the description of your letters. The custom of the Nepalese border towns to send letters to Kathmandu via India Post has persisted over the years and is also reflected by the relatively large number of preserved items. I had illustrated the above Calcutta-Nautanwa-Palpa postcard because it differs from the usual typology for two aspects:

Firstly,the vast majority of the preserved Nepalese letter sent via the Indian Post based only on the random fortunate circumstance of some Nepalese border towns to have two post offices in their near vicinity (a Nepalese and an Indian) and therefore to have the possibility of choice to use one or the other postal system, insofar are letters to Kathmandu since the capital is the only inner nepalese town which is served directly by the Indian postal system. The origin of the illustred Calcutta-card is however different because the item is not a child of a simply geographical randomness but the product of an institutionalized mail distribution system created deliberately by a high government authority, the District Governor of Palpa, with the purpose to allow all places of his district ("...the particular places of Palpa district...") to have a connection, at least in obtaining letters, to the Indian postal system, even when the localities in question are located inland and far from the border. The establishment of such a sort of permanent and daily performed service will be presumably preceded by a consultation with the Indian postal authority of Nautanwa to accredit the "Nepalese officer of Bethari" as forwarder and to entitle him to receive letters and telegrams. This distribution system of incoming Indian mail in favor of an entire district must have been something special even in those times, because Captain Morris expressly mentioned that this type of service is executed only in two districts, Palpa and Ilam.

The second reason which makes the card noticeable, is that it is not a Nepal-to-Nepal letter but an incoming mail from the Indian foreign, Calcutta, and addressed to a place in the Nepalese hinterland, probably Palpa, which under normal circumstances could not have been delivered. Before the Agreement of 1936, letters from the Indian foreign and directed to internal Nepalese localities could be sent only using two escamotages: the practice of double franking with Indian and Nepalese stamps or, insofar as the places are located in the districts of Palpa and Ilam, taking advantage of the descripted organization.

*  *  *

Bruno, you manifest the interest: " would be interesting to find covers from Kathmandu to another city...". Very accurate your objection, since letters from Kathmandu to the border towns are much less frequently than those to Kathmandu. Here, a commercial letter from Kathmandu to Biratnagar probably including money. That could also be the reason why the sender was unwilling to use the ordinary Nepalese registered service since the Nepalese Post does not offer insurance. Since both Kathmandu as well as the border town Biratnagar are both served by the Indian Post, the sender has opted for the Indian insurance service. Jagbani is the name of a suburb of Biratnagar, which extends across the Indian border and is provided with an Indian post office.

(August 1947)


Herbert Mailänder

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