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Gurkhas or Gorkhas were the ruling clan of the Kathmandu valley who, in the 18th cent., expanded their empire over much of Nepal and encroached into sub-Himalayan India. They were defeated in 1814–16 by Lord Hastings. However, their valour and fighting qualities—especially with the kukri knife—earned much respect. The king of Nepal was invited to supply Gurkha contingents to the British Indian army. Gurkha battalions served with distinction in many colonial engagements, including the Indian mutiny, and in the First and Second World Wars. They are still represented in both the British and the Indian armies.

David Anthony Washbrook

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