Gorkha is situated 140km west of Kathmandu at an altitude of 1,135 meters it is the ancestral hometown of the Nepal’s ruling royal family now deposed. Gorkha is only 18 km up a paved road off the Pokhara-Kathmandu Highway. A brief visit on the way or a night stopover to or from Pokhara provides insights into Nepal of a very different kind.
This small town is perhaps the most important historical town of Nepal. From its hilltop fortress, King Prithvi Narayan Shah, the ninth generation paternal ancestor of the present King, launched his lifelong attempt to unify the independent states of Nepal, a wildly ambitious project which succeeded due to his brilliance, and the effectiveness of his locally recruited troops. The British term “Gurkha” evolved from the name Gorkha, referring to the famed fighting soldiers of the region.
Gorkha’s centerpiece is the magnificent Gorkha Durbar with a fort, a palace and a temple with excellent views of the surrounding valleys, and the Manaslu range.
Gorkha Bazaar is primarily a cobbled street market place where by people from neighboring hill dwellings come to trade. There are a few temples near about, but not much. Yet, it is worth a visit as it provides a very good vista of the quiet charm that soaks a typical hill village of Nepal.
Gorkha Durbar is the main attraction of Gorkha, an hour steep walk up a hill from the bazaar area. It used to be the dwelling of King Prithvi Narayan and his ancestors. The Durbar itself is a humble, yet quite impressive, complex of a temple, fort, and a palace built in the Newar style of Kathmandu. The view of the Himalayan range and the deep valleys from up there is quite breathtaking.
Gorakhnath Cave, ten meters below the palace’s southern side, is the sacred cave temple of Gorakhnath. The cave is carved out of the solid rock and is among the most important religious sites for mainstream Brahmins and Chhetri of Nepal.
Gorkha is also an alternate starting point for a few trekking routes in the region. Gorkha-Trishuli is an easy three day walk along unspoiled Nepali country side. One can also walk a long day’s walk to Besisahar, which is the usual starting point for Annapurna region. There is also a six day easy trek to Pokhara where you are unlikely to see any other tourist you need to camp but there are places for provisions along the way and if you have the time it is a great way to get to Pokhara.