Capital of Nepal, situated at 1,370 m/4,500 ft in the southern Himalayas, in the Valley of Nepal, at the junction of the Baghmati and Vishnumati rivers; population (2001 est) 696,900. Tourism is an important economic activity and its growth has been aided by the develoment of an international airport at Kathmandu. Manufacturing industries in the Kathmandu area are small-scale and dependent mainly on local raw materials; products include timber, bricks and tiles, milled rice, cigarettes, cement, and beer.
History It was founded in 723 by the Licchavi king Gunakamadeva on an ancient pilgrim and trade route from India to Tibet and China and ruled for centuries by Newar people. Gurkhas captured it in 1768 and made it their capital. The country was ruled 1846–1950 from here by the Rana family as hereditary prime ministers. In 1934 an earthquake devastated much of the city. The first surfaced road was built to Kathmandu from Pokhara in 1956 and, also in the 1950s, Kathmandu was connected to the narrow-gauge railways of Bihar in India by an electrically-driven cable-car system.
Features It has royal palaces; the Singha Durbar; a Buddhist temple (1549) in the old palace; the Buddhist temple of Kumari Bahal; the white-domed Bodnath shrine revered by Tibetan Buddhists; Tribhuvan University (1959); the National Museum of Nepal, and monasteries. A road runs north from here via Pokhara and the Kodari Pass in the Himalayas to Lhasa, Tibet.