Home Blog Royal Gurkhas: Behind the name
Posted on Friday, 12 January 2018

“Bravest of the brave, most generous of the generous, never had a country more faithful friends than you.”

- Sir Ralph Turner MC on the Gurkhas, 1931.

After suffering heavy casualties in the invasion of Nepal, the British East India Company signed a hasty peace deal with the Nepalese in 1815. What this deal also allowed was the British to recruit from the ranks of the former enemy into their own forces. During the 193 years they have served in the British Army, Nepalese soldiers, known as the Gurkhas, have loyally fought in nearly all of the world’s major conflicts alongside the British earning the country’s highest service awards.

5th Royal Gurkha Rifles, North-West Frontier, 1923.

Following the partition of India in 1947, an agreement between Nepal, India and Britain meant four Gurkha regiments from the Indian army were transferred to the British Army, eventually becoming the Gurkha Brigade.

2/5th Royal Gurkha Rifles marching through Kure following their arrival in Japan as part of the Allied forces of occupation, May 1946.

Indeed, until today, the Gurkha’s legendary ferocity is matched only by their loyalty to the British Monarch, today serving in British, Nepalese and Indian Armies with contingents in Singapore, Brunei as well as UN Peace Keeping forces and war zones around the globe. Soldiers are still selected from young men living in the hills of Nepal, with about 28,000 youths tackling the selection procedure for just over 200 places each year. The selection process has been described as one of the toughest in the world and is fiercely contested.

A monument to the Gurkha Soldier near the Ministry of Defence in London, England.

Gurkhas are famous for their courage, loyalty, neutrality and impartiality. Gurkhas is also the name behind one of Australia’s leading vocational training providers, the Royal Gurkhas Institute of Technology Australia. For RGIT, Gurkhas is not merely a brand name. Behind inspiration for the name lies a veritable Gurkhas legacy. Seeds of this legacy were sown almost 80 years ago in a small, remote village in Nepal, when British Army recruiters visited 25-year-old cow herder, Parsunam Tamang’s village. Parsunam welcomed the opportunity to leave his hometown and follow in the footsteps of his father, member of the Indian Army who died in the First World War. Parsunam joined the world-famous Nepalese Gurkha soldiers, an integral part of the British Army with a reputation for fearless military prowess and their close association with the khukuri. Carried into battle, the 16-18-inch long curved knife was the traditional weapon of the Gurkhas soldier. It was said that once a kukri was drawn in battle, it had to taste blood. Failing this, its owner had to cut himself before returning it to its sheath. Nowadays, the Gurkhas say, the famous khukuri used mainly for cooking.

It was in the 1990s that Parsunam’s grandson, Chandra Yonzon, brought the Gurkhas name to Australia when he opening Gurkhas chain of restaurants. Flavours of Nepal continue to delight the senses across what is the world’s most livable city known for its restaurant nightlife. Over the next two decades, Chandra opened a succession of six restaurants around Melbourne under the popular Gurkhas name.

With a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Management & Administration, a degree in Education and a successful track record in the international 5-start hotel environment, where he worked while he studied, Chandra co-founded Royal Gurkhas Institute of Technology. For the institute's CEO, founder and Director, RGIT is not merely a brand name. Founded as Gurkhas Institute of Technology in 2008, the institute received official permission to add ‘Royal’ to its name in 2011. RGIT Australia proudly lives up to the reputation of the Gurkhas after which it is named, delivering quality education under a name that is synonymous with loyalty and fearlessness.