Kathmandu is one of the most fascinating cities in the subcontinent. It was cut off from the outside world until the 1950s, and so it retains its own distinct character, architecture and history. Kathmandu is awash with pagoda style buildings, temples and shrines, and its narrow streets and bustling markets are ideal just to wander around seeing the traditional Nepalese way of life. It is usually your first stop on a tour of Nepal, and there is a great deal to see and do. Each of the former city-states of Kathmandu, Patan and Bhaktapur have their own Durbar Squares, famed for their pagoda-style buildings and stunning intricate carvings. Head up to the ridge of the Kathmandu Valley and visit Swayambhunath Temple, known as the Monkey Temple, which has superb views back over the city. To the east of Kathmandu you find the Hindu Pashupatinath Temple on the banks of the Bagmati River, where you often seeing traditional Sadhus going about their daily lives. Almost next door is Boudhanath Stupa, one of the largest Buddhist Stupas in the world and surrounded by Tibetan communities, many of whom fled Tibet in the 1950s when the Chinese occupied this the Buddhist kingdom. At the top of the valley, you find the small villages of Nagarkot and Dhulikhel where many guests end their tour of Nepal.