Nepali literature and its gradual germination can be approximately classified into five periods, namely:
The oldest surviving evidence in Nepali literature that has been unearthed has been ascribed to Ashok Chilla's bronze plate, engraved in 1321 A.D. The oldest book to have been discovered is Khanda Khadya (1642), the authenticity of the composer of which however still remains in the dark. Some of the other such instances of ancient books bearing no name of one sole creator comprise Swasthani Bharatkatha (1658) and Baj Parikxya (1700). Amidst such a darkening state of affairs, the oldest surviving book whose writer has been acknowledged is the translated version of Bani Bilas Jyotirbid's Jwarup Pati Chikitsha (1773) and Prayashit Predip by Prem Nidhi Pant, in Sanskrit. Both the books were tranlated by Prem Nidhi Pant in later times.
Before the Gurkha (also acknowledged as Gorkha) conquest of Nepal in 1768, Nepali literature and Nepalese writings were performed in Sanskrit and Newari, as well as Nepali (the latter essentially serving as the language of the Gurkha conquerors). These writings consisted of religious texts, chronicles, dedications, extolments and the likes. The still surviving material in Nepali, with the feasible omission of the memoirs (c. 1770) of the Gurkha king Prithvi Narayan Shah, possesses more historical interest as opposed to literary pursuits. Literary composing in the Nepali language commenced only during the 19th century.
Approximately in 1830, there shot to prominence a school of Nepali poets, who penned on themes ranging from the Hindu epics Ramayana to Bhagavata-Purana, in a language that was more Sanskritised than Nepali. This genre in Nepali literature bore witness of being heavily influenced by classical Sanskrit themes and poetic metres. They were succeeded in mid-century by Bhanubhakta, whose Nepali version of the Ramayana had accomplished unfathomable popularity for the everyday and conversational touch of its language, its religious genuineness and solemnity and its down-to-earth natural descriptions. The poet Lekhnath Paudyal during the early 20th century also had inclined towards this 'everyday and conversational touch' and thoroughly utilised the rhythms of popular songs in a few of his poems.