Katmandu or Kathmandu (both: kätmändōˈ) [key], 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. 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.