Until the second half of the twentieth century, Nepal was virtually unknown to the rest of the world. It was one of those remote lands forbidden to foreigners. Only in 1951, after King Tribhuvan had put an end to more than a century of political domination by the powerful Rana family, did the world's only Hindu monarchy open its doors to outsiders. Since then, this small nation, one of the world's least developed and most beautiful, has drawn many visitors from the west. They come because they are eager to explore a society so completely different from their own highly industrialized modern civilizations.