The Mallas (meaning 'wrestlers') were originally rulers of the realm known as the Malla Mahajanapada in northern India, however they came to Nepal and established themselves as the successors to the Thakuris around 1200. Despite disasters such an earthquake in 1225 which killed a third of Nepal's population and invasions by the Mughal Empire, the Mallas were able to expand Nepal's territories beyond the Kathmandu Valley. They introduced new laws and enabled trade with India, Tibet and China to flourish.
In 1482 the King Yaksha Malla handed over power to his three sons - each of whom was given a separate city-state to rule: Kantipur (Kathmandu), Bhadgaon (Bhaktapur) and Patan (Lalitpur). The combination of the wealth brought in by foreign trade and the fierce competition between the three rival royal families resulted in a period of unprecedented building projects, including the beautiful and lavish Durbars (palaces) of Kathmandu, Bhaktapur and Patan.
To the west of Kathmandu an unrelated clan of Mallas, established their own dynasty. Their language, 'Khas kura' - the language of the Khas - is now the national laguage of Nepal: Nepali. In 1559 one branch of the western Mallas, the Shahs, established their base in the small hill kingdom of Gorkha, from where they began expand their own territories.