About Gorkha Durbar

Perched on a hilltop, approximately 142 km from Kathmandu, is the grand fortress-like palace of King Prithvi Narayan Shah, who conquered the surrounding kingdoms and began the unification of Nepal as a nation in 1769.

The palace sits high above Gorkha town, also known locally as Gorkha bazaar, and can be reached by either a set of 1,500 steps from the town or by a road to the rear. Gorkha was severely affected by the 2015 earthquake, which also damaged Gorkha Durbar. However, today, you would be hard-pressed to see any visible damage in the town itself. As for Gorkha Durbar, while the main palace building was completely destroyed, it was complete rebuilt and opened again in late 2023. The rest of the fortress complex still stands.

Gorkha Durbar is not only famous as the birthplace of Prithvi Narayan Shah but also as the starting point of the annual Dashain festival. The Newari people regard the area as sacred, viewing the Shah's an living embodiments of Vishnu. Gorkha is also where the famous British Gurkha Battalion were established.

Nandi statue on top of Gorkha Durbar overlooking a hill
Nandi statue on top of Gorkha Durbar overlooking a hill


Today, Gorkha Durbar sees few international tourists. Those who do visit are mainly Nepali tourists curious to see the place where their first king was born. For those who visit Gorkha Durbar, they are usually surprised by how much there is to see. While the palace is gone, it was a relatively small section. The Kalika temple still stands, as does the Gorakhnath cave shrine, the ramparts, fortress walls, more historic buildings around the palace, along with a very pleasant forest walk. Moreover, Gorkha Durbar still contains majestic views across the valleys beneath it, which the King strategically controlled and united into Nepal.

Quick Look to See If You Would Like Gorkha Durbar

Interests: Forts, History, Forest Walks, Less Tourists

Accommodation: Hotels/Guesthouses

Nearby: Bandipur

Time Needed: Half-day

Honesty counts! Every travel guide on this site has always been 100% independent, unbiased & honest. I do not accept sponsorships, free treks or tours. I do not own a trekking company or business in Nepal. I pay my own way & in turn write authentic guidebooks to Nepal. Rest assured, this is a genuine travel guide that you can trust.

Where is Gorkha Durbar?

Gorkha Durbar is located on a hill above Gorkha town in Gorkha district, Gandaki province in Nepal. It's 142km west of Kathmandu and 106.5km east of Pokhara. In terms of geography Gorkha is close to both Bandipur (53.3km) and Riepe village via Dumre.

Map of Nepal showing the location of Gorkha Durbar Pokhara Kathmandu Gorkha Durbar

While Gorkha Durbar only has an elevation of 1380 meters it's perched on top of a tree lined hill which gives it an excellent view of the surrounding valleys on all sides.

Rear side of Kalika Mandir

Rear side of Kalika Mandir

There's a short hike up to old ruins above Gorkha Durbar which has an elevation of 1500 metes and is thickly forested.


How to get to Gorkha

Reaching Gorkha is relatively easy despite its isolated location.

Gongabu (New Bus Park) in Kathmandu has frequent buses to Gorkha (6 hours). Alternatively you could take a morning tourist bus and get off at Anbu Khaireni (3.5 hours) and then take a frequent local bus up to Gorkha (1 hour).

From Pokhara's old bus park it's 4 hours to Gorkha. Taking a tourist bus to Anbu Khaireni would take you much longer.

Buses at Gongabhu bus park in Kathmandu
Buses at Gongabu bus park in Kathmandu go to Gorkha

In Gorkha there is a single bus park just south of the museum. Buses here go to Kathmandu, Pokhara, Anbu Khaireni. A single bus goes to Bhairahawa (near Lumbini and Sonauli). There is also a single daily bus in the morning to Narayangarh, Bharatpur (near Chitwan National Park).

There's no need for a jeep to visit Gorkha or indeed Gorkha Durbar as the roads are relatively good. Despite this, many "tour" agents will tell you a jeep is better - it's not - a car or mini-van will do.

Tours to Gorkha are usually overpriced and don't spend much time at Gorkha Durbar. Making your way to Gorkha is relatively easy with no pressure if you spend the night there or arrive early.


Gorkha Durbar Map

This map shows you the main area of Gorkha Durbar, bus stops and Gorkha town.

History of Gorkha Durbar

Gorkha Durbar's history dates back to when it was a feudal kingdom in the mid-16th century CE under the first king of Gorkha, Dravya Shah. The Gorkha Museum is said to be the first palace constructed in Gorkha.

Gorkha Durbar overlooking a hill
Gorkha Durbar overlooking a hill that saw the conquest of Nepal take place

A New Kingdom

Prithvipati Shah reigned as king of Gorkha from 1673 to 1716. He had a good relationship with the nearby Malla Kingdoms in the Kathmandu Valley. The king had many children but had a strained relationship with the heir apparent, turning his grandson into the next king. King Nara Bhupal Shah (1697–1743) was the first Gorkha king with ambitions to conquer all of Nepal. He married four times with great difficulty in having a child. He launched a failed attempt at conquering Nuwakot from the Mallas. Queen Kausalyavati Devi gave birth to Prithivi Narayan Shah in 1723.


A Prince Becomes King

Prithvi Narayan Shah was born on January 7, 1723. He was raised with strict rules with the intention that he would become a great king. It is written that the mysterious sage (Sadhu) Gorakhnath from India helped educate the young prince, who had a great admiration for astrology. Today, the cave where Gorakhnath stayed and meditated is a shrine beside the palace of Gorkha Durbar.

Statue of Prithvi Narayan Shah
Statue of Prithvi Narayan Shah at Gorkha Durbar

In 1743, Nara Bhupal Shah died, and at the age of 20, Prithvi Narayan Shah became king of Gorkha.

The Kingdom Expands

Knowing his father had failed at capturing Nuwakot, Prithvi Narayan Shah became obsessed with taking it from the Mallas. He ventured to Varanasi, where his extended family helped him, and he brought back firearms. Later that year, he attempted to take Nuwakot and failed. Forging an alliance with three neighboring states, the King once again attacked and captured Nuwakot in 1744 CE. From there, the king looked to take all of the Kathmandu Valley using both diplomacy, siege warfare, and all-out attacks on the kingdoms of the Kathmandu Valley.

The Kingdom of Nepal is Formed

By 1768, all the cities of the Kathmandu valley were under the command of Prithvi Narayan Shah. With great illness, the king set about establishing a strong legacy for the future Kingdom of Nepal. Legislation was created called Divyopadesh to ensure the future kingdom of Nepal would maintain diplomatic relations to the north with China and to the south with the British East India Company, who controlled India. Prithvi Narayan Shah died in January 1775 CE from an illness in Nuwakot aged 52. His son Pratap Singh Shah continued his legacy of unifying Nepal.

Today, many Nepalis look upon Gorkha Durbar as both a sacred place and the birthplace of the first king of Nepal.

Gorkha Durbar Highlights

Highlights of Gorkha Durbar include:
Steps leading to the top of Gorkha Durbar
Contrary to other outdated reports, only the palace was destroyed in Gorkha. The rest is very easy to access and still standing for you to explore!
  • Impressive fortress on a hill
  • Kalika Mandir
  • Cave of Gorakhnath
  • Viewpoints from the fortress
  • Hanuman statue & surrounding inscriptions
  • Viewpoint from Hanuman Bhanjyang
  • Forest walk to the old ruins of Gorkha
  • 1,500 steps to Gorkha bazaar
  • Few tourists

Things to See & Do in Gorkha Durbar

The main fortress palace is the main highlight of Gorkha Durbar. Despite the residential part of the palace being destroyed in the 2015 earthquake, it is only a small portion of the many things to see around Gorkha Durbar.

It all starts with the 1,500 steps up or taking a short cut up!

1,500 Steps to Gorkha Durbar

If you arrived in Gorkha bazaar itself, then you'll have no problem finding someone to point you the way to the start of the 1,500 steps rising up to the main fortress (just north of the museum). It takes about 45 minutes to climb with plenty of rest stops along the way.

Steps leading to Gorkha Durbar
A section of the steps leading to Gorkha Durbar

Small souvenir stores line parts of the way. They not only sell trinkets but also water and the odd Nepali snack. There's nothing available at the top of Gorkha Durbar, so this might be your only chance to grab a drink or snack.

If climbing the 1,500 steps is not your thing, then a taxi can bring you around to the rear of Gorkha Durbar where there's a much shorter 5-minute walk to the fortress.

The Kalika Mandir

If you came up the 1,500 steps, then to the left (east) is the Kalika Mandir. It's located up a series of stone entrance steps. The first brings you to Sita Pati (a small lookout window), and then to the right, another set of steps brings you to Kalika Mandir.

Door of the main Kalika Mandir shrine
Door of the main Kalika Mandir shrine

The immediate area was damaged in the 2015 earthquake. But Nepalis still perform animal sacrifices here. Do be warned that there may well be the odd goat or chicken before or after the event in the area, especially on a Saturday.

The main temple is usually closed and would be closed for non-Hindus. Inside, there's a shrine to the goddess Kali, one of the ten mother goddesses. Outside, you can enjoy the elaborate wood carvings, especially the giant peacocks surrounding windows high above. Do note that shoes should be removed before crossing over to the brick platform in front of the temple. If the temple door is open, you may not enter but you can look in from afar.

While visiting another temple in Nepal may not be your thing, the surrounding buildings are uniquely decorated in Newari style.

The Palace

To the right, the palace stands out after its reconstuction. The new red brick is certainly the first thing that tells you it's been rebuild after the 2015 earthquake.

Entrance to Gorkha Palace
Though the palace has been rebuilt, many of the wooden windows and doors were saved and reused.

Today, there's not much inside. The kings rather plain throne and an empty hall.

Locals say they are awaiting funding for the palace to be full rebuilt. Meanwhile an army guard often stands near the palace door. Once again showing that that Gorkha remains a symbol of pride for Nepal.


Sita Pati

At the bottom of the stairs you went up to the Kalika Mandir is a small pati or rest house. This is dedicated to Sita, who was the wife of the god Ram. There's usually a security guard on duty here with various signs of no sitting dotted about.

Sita Pati in Gorkha Durbar
Sita Pati in Gorkha Durbar has a window with magnificent views.

If there isn't too much of a crowd of tourists around, you could ask the guard, nicely, if it's possible to take a look out of the window. The views are quite impressive on a clear day stretching out behind the temple and across the valley below.

It's also worth noting the temple wall just before the pati. It's covered in unique wooden framed windows and long wooden serpent carvings.

If you were to go down the stairs and take a right, you'd come out to a large stone platform with impressive views looking up at the sheer size of Gorkha Durbar.


The Cave of Gorakhnath

Taking a left at the bottom of the steps to Kalika Mandir leads you along the walls of Gorkha Durbar until you reach a large jagged-looking rock sticking out of the wall. Up ahead are some steps to the right and a taleju bell and Shiva's staff, the Trishula.

The cave of Gorakhnath in Gorkha Durbar, Nepal
The cave of Gorakhnath in Gorkha Durbar, Nepal - there's a shrine entrance way around the corner where you can look in.

The first short set of steps ends with what looks like a shrine. It is in fact the entrance to the cave where the sage Gorakhnath lived. The sage is said to have been hugely influential on the young prince Prithvi Narayan Shah.

It's not possible to enter the cave, but it is possible to peer through the lattice door windows inside. If you climb up the stairs further, you can get a better look at how this section of the fortress seems to have been built around the cave.

At the top of the steps is a large shrine to Shiva along with a host of ramparts with stunning views of the valleys below.

Chaughera Durbar

Walking along the main Gorkha Durbar platforms, you'll reach the eastern end of the old fortress. Here slightly lower down is a lovely Newari-styled building. This is Chaughera Durbar or the Palace Guesthouse.

Chaughera Durbar (palace guesthouse) in Gorkha Durbar
Chaughera Durbar (palace guesthouse) in Gorkha Durbar

Of note is the Newari style of the Palace Guesthouse. Although Prithvi Narayan Shah conquered the Malla Empire, he had great admiration for their architecture and artwork. It's said that he hired many Newari architects to work on his own buildings.

Today Chaughera Durbar is being used as an administration building for officials looking after the area. There's more to see around the rear of the building.

Shree Bidhya Mandir

Shree Bidhya in Gorkha Durbar
Shree Bidhya in Gorkha Durbar

There's a small temple here which is usually locked. This is dedicated to the Hindu tantric religious system to the goddess Lalitā Tripurasundarī ("Beautiful Goddess of the Three Cities") or Devi.

Of note is the tortoise standing in front of the shrine. This tortoise is missing a tall column which should be on its shell signifying it is carrying the world on its back.

Hanuman Statue & Inscriptions

Hanuman Statue in Gorkha Durbar
The Hanuman Statue in Gorkha Durbar is surrounded by other statues and inscriptions

At the bottom of a flight of steps to the east of Gorkha Durbar is a bright red Hanuman statue which has become rather famous due to the amount of tika (red dye) blessings that cover it. Hanuman in Gorkha has many more reasons to be famous stemming from the legend of Hanuman to the high pass above the statue which you can visit.

It's well worth noting the inscription pillars and various other statues around this area as some of them are very detailed.


Stone Footprints, a Cave, and Lookout Point

To the right of the Hanuman statue is a set of steps leading up into the Gorkha forest. Halfway up to the left is a slender cave which many locals like to squeeze into and out of the other side. It is a narrow space, so take caution.

Stone steps leading to a cave, foot prints and a lookout cave in Gorkha
Stone steps leading to a cave, foot prints and a lookout cave in Gorkha

Continue up the steps and up to a concreted and stone-strewn area. There are several "footprints" dotted around the place attributed to Hanuman, Gorakhnath, Ram, and Sita.

To the left, the rocks continue on and jut out to form an impressive viewpoint known as Hanuman Bhanjyang or Hanuman Pass. On a clear day, you can see the Gorkha Durbar with a snowy mountain range behind it. Manaslu can be spotted in all its 8,156 m glory. Dotted around the pass are small statues to Hanuman and Gorakhnath.


Gorkha Forest Walk

If you continue on from Hanuman Pass, you'll go by a few more statues and footprints. The upward trail goes through some very nice woodlands. Stone steps continue on up until you come to a rest area and an army barracks to the left.

Old ruins in the forest above Gorkha
Old ruins in the forest above Gorkha

The trail continues up as in twists and turns in the pine forest. At the top, there's a junction leading straight ahead, to the left, and to the right.

To the right leads you up a little further to an area littered with abandoned ruins. Raised stone circular walls give the impression that they were once part of an armory.

The trail to the left at the junction leads higher still, but be warned, the area is sadly no more than a mobile telephone network tower. The trail ahead is somewhat never-ending with many more twists and turns. Unless you plan a full day's hiking around Gorkha, it's best to go back the way you came.

Gorkha Durbar entrance fee

Currently, there is no entrance fee to enter Gorkha Durbar. The entrance fee of 200 rupees was stopped once the palace was destroyed in 2015. However, now that reconstruction of the palace is complete it is likely an entrance fee will return eventually and is rumoured to be 500 rupees when it does return. The museum had a complete overhaul in 2021.

Best time of year to visit Gorkha Durbar

Gorkha Durbar can be visited at any time of the year. However monsoon season will mean the chances of seeing mountains from Gorkha Durbar will be lessened.

Gorkha Weather by month

  Avg. Temperature
Avg. Temperature
Precipitation / Rainfall (mm)
January 11.0 51.8 25
February 13.7 56.6 28
March 18.9 66.2 41
April 23.2 73.7 98
May 24.7 76.4 245
June 24.8 76.6 396
July 24.8 76.6 510
August 24.9 76.8 398
September 23.0 73.4 229
October 21.0 69.8 90
November 14.1 57.3 12
December 13.3 55.9 15

There is no weather station in Gorkha. The above weather charts is based on nearby averages. Gorkha shares a very similar weather climate to nearby Bandipur.

Around Gorkha Durbar

Gorkha town or Gorkha Bazaar is a modern Nepali town. The main road is lined with typical concrete buildings with banks, shops, and the occasional hotel taking up most of the space. The highlight of the town is the museum, which used to be the old king's palace. There are several more shrines and a nice pond in Gorkha town worth seeking out as they are all close by.

Gorkha Museum in Gorkha, Nepal
Gorkha Museum in Gorkha, Nepal

Gorkha Museum (Tallo Durbar)

An impressive Newari-style building that's been kept in good shape over the years. Inside, things are so-so. There's an indigenous section showing mannequins dressed in ethnic clothing and a few artifacts from the Durbar. There's a two-tiered Bhimsen temple behind it to the north near a junction.

The entrance fee is 100 rupees. The opening hours are strict running Nov-Jan: 10.30 am - 3.30 pm. Feb-October: 10.30 am - 4.30 pm. Mondays 10.30 am - 2.20 pm.

There's a camera fee of 200 rupees; otherwise, you can leave your camera with the guard. The museum was completely renovated in 2021.


Shiva Temple, Vishnu Image, Vishnu Temple & Ganesh Temple

Vishnu Temple in Gorkha, Nepal
Vishnu Temple in Gorkha, Nepal

To the southwest of the museum is the older part of town with a collection of neat temples. The tall white Mogul-style temple is dedicated to Shiva. There's an intricate stone carving of Vishnu lying on a bed of serpents beside it.

At the center is a two-roofed temple to Vishnu with a small community pati in front of it. To the left of this is a narrow set of steps leading up to an unusually short shikhara-style temple dedicated to Raj Ganesh.

Rani Pokhari

Rani Pokhari in Gorkha, Nepal
The pleasant pond, Rani Pokhari in Gorkha, Nepal

One of the nicest parts of Gorkha Bazaar is the pond known as Rani Pokhari to the east of the temples. It's set down low and has several shrines dotted around it. The pond is fenced in, but you can make your way inside via the set of steps at the front.

There are several seating areas around the pond where you'll find people resting during the day.

Restaurants in Gorkha

There are no restaurants in Gorkha Durbar itself. Most are found in Gorkha town or to the rear of Gorkha Durbar at Hotel Brindaban.

Hotel Brindaban is quiet in the off-season. They offer basic Nepali tourist food like chow mien and fried rice. Sizzlers and similar items are also available along with Dal Bhat.

Plate of spaghetti in Nepal

Aside from local menu items, it's possible to get a plate of spaghetti in Gorkha.

Most of the restaurants in Gorkha town will be catering to Nepali customers. Gorakhkali Restaurant (written in Nepali) is an example of a local restaurant behind and to the north of the museum. There are several momo restaurants near the bus park, but choose wisely.

A better option for restaurants in Gorkha is to eat in the hotel or guesthouse where you are staying. Alternatively, if you are on a day trip, these types of accommodations also offer menus. See accommodation below for more.

Accommodation in Gorkha

The nearest accommodation to Gorkha Durbar is Hotel Brindaban +977 985-6040128 to the rear. They offer basic accommodation and meals. There is plenty of parking available here.

The majority of accommodation is in Gorkha town itself but is based on Nepali overnighters and perhaps not in the best of condition, so look before you pay for a room. Other slightly better hotels are dotted over Gorkha, so do be careful if booking as some are quite far away.

Gorkha Durbar ramparts from the steps leading up to it
You'll need to stay in Gorkha town if you want to enjoy a full day out at Gorkha Durbar; otherwise, you can limit yourself to a half day.

The best of the bunch in Gorkha is Chhen Bed & Breakfast , located quite close to the bus park. Offering fan and air-conditioned rooms in good condition. The restaurant is also worth calling into.

Hotel Gorkha Bisauni is an older establishment further down the road from the bus stop. Its rooms are dated, and it can get a little noisy in the early evening, but there is a nice garden.

Hotel Gorkha Palace +977 64-421442 is along the main road south of the bus park. It's a modern business hotel aimed at Nepali customers. The rooms are okay but overpriced and far from palatial.

Hotel Miracle +977 64-421442 is located near the start of Gorkha's town and offers some simple older-style but spacious rooms. It's one of the more established hotels in Gorkha and not a bad bet if you need a bed for the night.


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