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Kathmandu(both: kätmändo͞o`), city (1991 pop. 421,258), capital of Nepal, central Nepal, c.4,500 ft (1,370 m) above sea level, in a fertile valley of the E Himalayas. It is the administrative, business, and commercial center of Nepal, and lies astride an ancient trade and pilgrim route from India to Tibet, China, and Mongolia. Originally ruled by the Newars, Katmandu became independent in the 15th cent. and was captured in 1768 by the Gurkhas, who made it their capital. In the late 18th cent. the city became the seat of a British resident. The capital was severely damaged by earthquakes in 1934 and 2015. Following the 1951 downfall of the Rana prince ministership, Katmandu experienced an influx of Western tourists, many of them mountain climbers. Tourism and trade with India led to a rapid increase in Katmandu's population and to the expansion of paved streets and sewage systems. More recently, luxury hotels and casinos have drawn tourists from India. Landmarks include the elaborate royal palace (now a museum), palaces of the politically dominant Rana family, several pagoda-shaped temples, and many Sanskrit libraries. Katmandu also has a number of colleges.
(or Kathmandu), the capital of Nepal, as well as the country’s economic and cultural center. It is situated along the Bagmatti River, in an intramontane depression of the Himalayas, at an altitude of 1, 360 m. It has a monsoon mountain tropical climate. The average July temperature is 24.5°C and the average January temperature 18.3°C, the annual precipitation is about 1, 400 mm, and the humidity is 70–80 percent. Katmandu is subject to earthquakes, which greatly damaged the city in 1833 and 1934. The population is 240, 000 (1971, with suburbs).
The founding of Katmandu, which was called Kantipur until the 16th century, is attributed to the eighth-century Nepalese ruler Gunakamadeva, who transferred the capital of his state from Lalitpur to Kantipur. The city retained its importance as the political center of the Valley of Nepal during the reign of the early Malla dynasty, from the 13th to the 15th century. After the disintegration of the early Malla state, Katmandu was the center of an appanage principality bearing the same name from 1482 to 1769. Since 1769, from the time the Prithvi Narayan reestablished a centralized Nepalese state, Katmandu has been the capital of Nepal.
Katmandu is an important transportation center, with three major highways branching out from it: the Tribhuvan Rajpath, going south to India; the Prithvi Rajpath, going west to the city of Pokhara; and the Arniko Rajmarg, going north to Kodari. Tribhuvan Airport provides air communication with other cities in Nepal and with India, Bangladesh, Burma, and Thailand. The city and its suburbs are the site of numerous handicraft workshops that produce various articles of art and jewelry. There are also individual enterprises, producing leather and shoes, textiles, and ceramics, as well as a brick and tile plant and machine-repair enterprises.
The Tundi Khel square is located in the center of Katmandu, and the royal Narayanhiti Durbar palace (neoclassic; early 20th century) is near it. The New Road to the west of the square is the busiest street in the city. Old quarters with narrow alleys are built up with two- or three-story houses in the national style. Modern hotels, a post office, a department store, and other buildings rise over the old structures. The architectural monuments of Katmandu are represented by the wooden Kath Mandir pagoda (Kastamandap; 1596), the Hanuman Dhoka complex of palaces and temples (15th to 18th centuries), the Singha Durbar palace (neoclassic; early 20th century), the Bhim Sen tower (1834), and the Monument to the Fighters of the Revolution of 1951. Near Katmandu are the Bodhnath stupa and the Svayam-bhunath architectural and sculptural complex with Buddhist stone reliefs of the sixth to eighth centuries. (Both structures were built in the third century B.C. and rebuilt in the eighth and ninth centuries.) Also found nearby is the Pashupatinath complex of Hindu temples (construction begun in the 13th century).
The cultural institutions of Katmandu include Tribhuvan University with Trichandra College and the National College of Nepal, which are affiliated with it; Sanskrit College; the Royal Academy of Nepal; the National, Central, and other libraries; and the National Museum of Nepal.