Former Nepalese prime minister Girija Prasad Koirala has died aged 86.
Mr Koirala served four terms as prime minister and brokered a peace deal which ended a 10-year civil war.
In 2006 he sided with Maoist rebels to force King Gyanendra to relinquish his sweeping powers.
The Maoists abolished the Hindu monarchy after winning elections two years later, turning Nepal into a secular republic.
Mr Koirala, who had been suffering from respiratory disease for many years, died surrounded by family members at his daughter’s home in Kathmandu.
Thousands of people gathered outside to pay their respects to the elder statesman of Nepalese politics.
“Mr Koirala was a mass leader and a statesman, whose knowledge and wisdom guided the polity of Nepal in the right direction at critical junctures in the country’s history,” said India’s prime minister Manmohan Singh.
UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon said Mr Koirala “fought fearlessly and at considerable personal sacrifice for justice and democratic rights in his country”.
Mr Koirala began his political career as a union organiser and was imprisoned for seven years in 1960 after a failed uprising against the monarchy.
Upon his release he went into exile in India, where he masterminded the 1973 hijacking of a Royal Nepal Airlines plane known to be carrying hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash to fund his banned Nepali Congress Party.
As prime minister, he led the Himalayan nation through some of its biggest upheavals, including its most notorious incident when 10 members of the royal family were shot dead by the crown prince in a drunken rampage.
He was seen as a stabilising force in a country that has seen 18 governments in the last 20 years – although like many politicians in Nepal he faced frequent allegations of corruption.
His oft-repeated ambition was to see the peace process through before he died, and he remained heavily involved in politics until his death, playing a crucial role as broker between the Maoists and other parties.
“He will be much missed, especially now that the country is nearing the end of the peace process that he facilitated,” said Maoist leader Baburam Bhattarai.