It was a forbidden place and thus, irresistible.

And so they came, Westerners intent on exploring Tibet and its elusive capital Lhasa.

Few survived the trials of fire, ice and violence that awaited on Tibet’s natural ramparts.

Where so many others had failed, two would succeed. In 1865, Nain Singh was sent by the British into the forbidden land to map its treacherous mountain passes. Disguised as a Buddhist pilgrim, Nain Singh, a spy whose feats of espionage still rank among the greatest in the world, emerged from Tibet with an astonishingly accurate survey of the mysterious land.

Forty years later, using the very same maps that Nain Singh created, it was Francis Younghusband, a British colonialist, who finally managed to penetrate the hidden city of Lhasa and bring to an end the country’s years of isolation.