An important entrepôt on the trade route from India to Tibet, the Kathmandu Valley has long been a cultural and racial melting pot, with migrations from all directions adding to the stew. This fusion has resulted in a unique Newari culture that found its expression in the valley's superb art and architecture.
The Newari golden age peaked in the 17th century when the valley consisted of three glorious but rival city-states, all of which grew rich from the transit trade. It was during the reign of the Malla kings, particularly in the 17th and 18th centuries, that many of the valley's finest temples and palaces were built, as each kingdom strove to outshine the other.
The unification of Nepal in 1768 by Gorkha's King Prithvi Narayan Shah signalled the end of the Kathmandu Valley's fragmentation. Nepali, an Indo-European language spoken by the Khas of western Nepal, replaced Newari as the country's language of administration.