Gurkhas are an ethnic group from Nepal and neighbouring areas. They entered Nepal from the west after being driven out of India and conquered (early 16th century) the small state of Gurkha. Henceforth they were called Gurkhas.

Then they expanded eastwards and by the mid-18th century, had established authority over all of Nepal.

Their invasion of Tibet in 1791 brought about Chinese retaliation and a war with the British in India (1814–16) resulted in a strong British influence in Nepal. The Gurkhas, predominantly Tibeto-Mongolians, speak Khas, a Rajasthani dialect of Sanskritic origin.

Under the Gurkha dynasty, Hinduism became the state religion of Nepal. Gurkha soldiers are renowned for bravery and strength and have served in the armies of India and Great Britain. Over 200,000 fought alongside the British during World War I and 40 battalions served in World War II.

Today, Gurkhas from the villages in the hills of Nepal still serve the nation as warriors, as their fathers and grandfathers did before them.

The soldiers are selected from young, and the selection process has been described as one of the toughest in the world. Young hopefuls have to run uphill for 40 minutes carrying a wicker basket on their back filled with rocks weighing 32kg.

The Gurkha motto is: Kaphar hunnu bhanda mornu ramro chhaa (it is better to die than live like a coward).

thestaronline|Saturday June 23, 2007