Nepal has seen many rulers and ruling dynasties. The earliest rulers were the Kirantis who ruled from 9th century B.C. to 1st century A.D. Legends and chronicles mention that the Indian Emperor Ashoka came to Nepal and visited Lumbini, the birth place of the Buddha, where he erected a huge stone pillar to commemorate his visit. Nepal covers an area of 147,181 sq. kilometres ranging from an altitude of 70 to 8,848 metres. Mountains, mid hills, valleys and plains dominate the geography of landlocked Nepal extending from the Himalayan range in the North to the Indo-Gangetic lowlands in South. Nepal is home to the highest peak in the Himalayas, Mt. Everest.