©Deborah Tonks/Lonely Planet

Gorkha

About 15 miles (24km) north of Abu Khaireni, Gorkha is famous for four things. It is the birthplace of Prithvi Narayan Shah, who unified the rival kingdoms of Nepal in 1769, commencing a dynasty that endured until 2008; it is the location of the Gorkha Durbar, the former palace of the Shahs, which looks over Gorkha from a lofty ridge; it is where the famous Gurkha Battalion in the British Army originated; and it is where the annual Dasain festival officially begins, with a procession to Kathmandu. The town remains an important pilgrimage destination for Newars, who regard the Shahs as living incarnations of Vishnu.

In 2015 Gorkha also became infamous as the epicentre of the worst earthquake to hit Nepal in almost a century, although many buildings avoided damage.

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