This typical hill town was the ancestral home of Nepal’s ruling family. It was from Gorkha’s hilltop fortress that King Prithvi Narayan Shah (1723-1775) launched his attempt to unify the independent states of Nepal. Nepal was unified into a single cohesive nation in 1769, and the Shah dynasty only ended in 2008 when Gyanendra Shah abdicated. It remains an important pilgrimage site for Newars, who regard the Shahs as living incarnations of Vishnu.
Gorkha's centerpiece is the magnificent Gorkha Durbar, former home of the Shahs. As the birthplace of Prithvi Narayan Shah, it has huge significance to Nepalis. It is an hour’s steep walk up from the bazaar area. The Durbar itself is a humble, yet quite impressive, complex of a temple, fort, and palace built in the Newar style of Kathmandu. The view of the Himalayan range and the deep valleys from up there is quite breathtaking.
As well as being a palace, the Durbar is also an important religious site. Each month and during other religious occasions, sacrifices are made to the goddess Kali. Only Brahmin priests and the king are allowed to observe these sacrifices from the terrace.
In the old part of Gorkha, there are more historic monuments. Gorkha Bazaar is primarily a cobbled market place where people from neighboring hill dwellings come to trade. There are a few temples nearby that are well worth a visit. The fortified Ratna Temple was formerly a residence of the last king, Gyendra. Above this is a small complex of temples dedicated to Vishnu, Shiva and Ganesh. There is a large square with a monumental gateway that leads to the Gorkha Museum, which occupies a Newar-style palace building, Tallo Durbar that was built in 1835.
Gorakhnath Cave , ten meters below the palace's southern side, is the sacred cave temple of Gorkhanath. The cave is carved out of the solid rock and is among the most important religious sites for mainstream Brahmins and Chhetris of Nepal.