At the international border point of Rasuwagadhi (Rasuwa Fort), where Nepal fought two wars in the late 18th century with Tibetan forces and Chinese reinforcements, people now impatiently await the Qinghai-Tibet railway, which many believe will conquer the constraints posed by the Himalayas on Nepal-China trade relations.

They see the train as Nepal's path to freedom from trade dependence on India, a neighbor about which Nepal harbors suspicions despite being geographically, culturally and socially closer to it than with China.

"This train will put to an end India's dadagiri (bullying)," said Chowang Sangbo, 54, who operates a modest lodge at Timure village near the ruins of the historic fort, a major gateway for the traders of Nepal and Tibet since ancient times.