Kathmandu, April 5 -- It was 6:30pm on 22 May 1911, and the sun had just set in Kathmandu when King Prithvi Bir Bikram Shah arrived at Tundikhel to turn on a switch to light Nepal's first electric lamp.

Nepal was the second country in Asia to install a hydroelectric power plant, commissioned by Prime Minister Chandra Shumsher Rana, who named the project after himself: Chandra Jyoti. Chandra Shumshere had visited England eight years previously, and this was part of his grand plan to modernise Nepal with technology.

Besides electricity, he established Nepal's first college, built metal suspension bridges all over the country,commissioned a cargo ropeway from Kathmandu to the Tarai.He sent architects to Europe, and engineers and horticultu...