The historical town of Gorkha is the birthplace of Prithvi Narayan Shah, king of Nepal who brought unity to the then divided kingdom. It is found 140 kilometers west of Nepal’s capital city, Kathmandu. The town is situated 1,135 meters above sea level and can be accessed by a road from the highway connecting Kathmandu and Pokhara. Some stories say that the town was named after the Hindu saint and yogi Gorakhnath, whose first appearance on earth was said to have occurred in this town.
The town is most popular for Gorkha Dubar, which is its primary tourist attraction. Many people consider this old structure as the best display of Newari architecture in all of Nepal. The structure is both a palace and a fortress. Built along a steep ridge, Gorkha Dubar gives awesome views of the Annapurna, Himalchuli, and Manaslu peaks on the horizon and the deep Trisuli Valley below. The southwest area of the palace holds a temple that was built for the goddess Gorakhkali. Gorkha Dubar is just a one-hour walk from the town proper. Upallokot, a viewing area built on an elevated place, gives the best vantage point for viewing the palace and the peaks surrounding Gorkha.
Another place worth visiting in this historical town is Gorakhnath Cave. It is found 10 meters southwest of Gorkha Dubar. The cave is a sacred site, and the saint Gorakhnath is believed to have spent time there in meditation. The saint was regarded as the guardian and protector of the Gurkhas who gave them victory in their battles. Adjoining this cave is another cave called Tantrik sage, which people say holds Gorakhnath’s statue.
The town’s famous market, Gorkha Bazaar, serves as its center of trade. This is where people from neighboring towns go to either sell their goods or buy things they need. Tourists go here as well to buy local products and things they can keep as souvenirs. Set along a street of cobblestone, the market is a perfect picture of the town’s rustic charm.
On the southeast of Gorkha lies a temple that draws Hindu pilgrims and tourists alike. It is called Mankamana Temple and was built for the goddess Mankamana, the goddess of aspirations. It can be reached by foot from Anbu Khaireni, which lies along the Kathmandu–Pokhara highway. The travel is a long 4-hour walk on an uphill terrain.
Many trekkers go to Gorkha because it serves as the starting point for a number of trekking routes. Besishahar, a common starting point for treks in Annapurna and Manang Area, is just a day’s walk from the town. Besishahar is also an access point for Pokhara, which can be reached from Besishahar through a 4-day walk.
Getting to the town of Gorkha is possible by taking a bus from Kathmandu or Chitwan going to Pokhara. Alight at Abu Khaireni, which you will pass by along the highway. From there, take a bus bound for the town 21 kilometers away. Local buses abound and are cheaper than tourist buses, but the latter are more comfortable.