The Mw 7.8 Gorkha earthquake in Nepal on April 25, 2015, produced thousands of landslides in the Himalayan mountain range. After the earthquake, two field investigations along Araniko Highway were conducted. Then, using remote sensing technology and geographic information system (GIS) technology, 1481 landslides were identified along the Bhote Koshi river. Correlations between the spatial distribution of landslides with slope gradient and lithology were analyzed. The power-law relationship of the size distribution of earthquake-induced landslides was examined in both the Higher Himalaya and Lesser Himalaya. Possible reasons for the variability of the power exponent were explored by examining differences in the geological situations of these areas. Multi-threshold cellular automata were introduced to model the complexity of system components. Most of the landslides occurred at slope gradients of 30°–40°, and the landslide density was positively correlated with slope gradient. Landslides in hard rock areas were more common than in soft rock areas. The cumulative number-area distribution of landslides induced by the Gorkha earthquake exhibited a negative power-law relationship, but the power exponents were different: 1.13 in the Higher Himalaya, 1.36 and Lesser Himalaya. Furthermore, the geological conditions were more complex and varied in the Lesser Himalaya than in the Higher Himalaya, and the cellular automata simulation results indicated that, as the complexity of system components increased, the power exponent increased. Therefore, the variability of the power exponent of landslide size distribution should ascribe to the complexity of geological situations in the Bhote Koshi river watershed. © 2017, Science Press, Institute of Mountain Hazards and Environment, CAS and Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany.