The hanging wall of the South Tibetan detachment system in the central Nepal Himalaya is characterized by regional-scale, northeast-verging folds, classically interpreted as gravity-induced structures developed during down-to-the-north extensional shearing along the detachment system. New structural observations and balanced cross sections of the Tethyan sedimentary sequence in the Kali Gandaki area and new U-Pb geochronology support an alternative interpretation. The northeast-verging folds developed before ductile extensional shearing along the detachment system, thereby recording some of the earliest contraction of this part of the orogen. We propose a new model in which the northeast-verging folds of the Kali Gandaki area represent the northern part of a late Eocene to Oligocene contractional fan structure.

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