Gorkha Tourist Attractions
Gorkha, officially called Prithibinarayan, is located 23 km (14 mi.) north of the main road linking Kathmandu and Pokhara. It can be reached by bus (in about 5 hours) or taxi. Gorkha was the seat of the Shah dynasty, the most famous of whom, Prithvi Narayan Shah, conquered the Kathmandu Valley and unified Nepal. The Shahs' massive fortress, perched on the ridge above the little town, was ideally situated from a strategic point of view and suitably imposing as a seat of government.When the Shahs invaded it in the mid 16th c. from West Nepal, Gorkha was probably already the seat of local rajas. The Shahs themselves are believed to have come originally from Rajasthan, having been driven out by Muslim conquerors. Although this has yet to be conclusively proved, there are undoubtedly striking similarities between the Rajasthanis and the Gurkhas including their shared military prowess and religious fervor.Tallo Durbar, a large mid 18th c. building in the administrative heart of the town, occupies the site where the old Gorkha palace stood before the arrival of the Shahs. It is earmarked for a museum once the present renovation work is completed. Near by are the post office and a bank.Between Tallo Durbar and the Rameshwar Temple an ancient bazaar crammed with shops and tea stalls runs along the hill. South of the temple another street leads to the bus terminus, passing the Tundikhel (parade ground) on the way.North of the old bazaar Gorkha Castle stands guard over the town. It is reached via steep steps from the main street between Tallo Durbar and the post office. Fountains and huge pipal trees offer a welcome place to rest on the quite arduous climb.
Upallo Durbar Fortress
The Gorkha fortress, perched above the town like an eagle's eyrie, provides some spectacular views. To the north are the peaks of the High Himalayas from the Ganesh Himal in the east to Dhaulagiri in the west, with majestic Manaslu (8156 m (26,768 ft)) catching the eye between. To the south are the summits of the Mahabharat range. The fortress was built at the time of Ram Shah (1606-36) and extended by his successors. Architecturally and artistically it bears all the hallmarks of the craftsmen from the Kathmandu Valley to whom the Shahs entrusted the embellishment of their palace while they themselves concentrated on the art of war.
The palace is in two sections, Kalika Durbar and Raj Durbar, linked by the Ranga Mahal. In the west wing there is a temple dedicated to Kali, maintained by members of a particular Brahmin caste. Only they and the king are permitted to enter (ordinary folk will die, it is said, if they set eyes on the religious symbol). The Brahmins sacrifice animals at the temple door. The royal apartments used to be in the east wing. The Dhuni Pati, where Prithvi Narayan Shah was born, has been elevated into a shrine.Prithvi Narayan Shah had a small Pashupati shrine built as a substitute for the Pashupatinath Temple beside the Bagmati. On the palace's lower level are a functions hall and hospice built by Rudra Shah. On the west side a helicopter pad has been constructed for the convenience of the king.
In the rocks some 10 m (33 ft) or so below the south side of the palace is the Gorakhnath cave shrine. Here Gorakhnath, a celebrated 12th c. yogi revered as an incarnation of Shiva, is said to have meditated. The cave is linked to the palace physically - by a flight of steps - and doctrinally, Gorakhnath being the guardian deity of the Gurkha kings and an ally in all their battles. This is believed to reflect a real connection between the warlike Gurkhas and the yogi, the latter having attained immortality through his unselfish care for an ailing prince.
From a chautaara on the east side of the palace a path ascends to the upper fort, Upallokot, atop the neighboring hill, a walk of about 20 minutes. The fort, little more than a pocket-size courtyard, now with a telecommunications tower, is noted for its outstanding views of the Himalayas and Mahabharat range as well as the compact Gorkha fortress below.On the opposite side of the palace a second path climbs up to Tallokot, another vantage point. While the vista is not nearly as good as from Upallokot it is rather more easily gained.