Serene, calm and adrenaline-pumping: Bhutan is all that and more
Traveller Leena Gandhi Tewari narrates her memorable experiences from the Kingdom of Bhutan.
Peeling off the layers of so called city civilities provided an indescribable sense of freedom. This for me was real civilisation, blending with fauna and flora where existence itself relies on interdependence. I felt transported back to the time of distant ancestors. It felt so natural. This full circle connect with the ancients, a circle as they say is the symbol of perfection. This is what Bhutan meant to me.
Here are some of my memorable moments:
PARO LANDING: Landing in Paro Valley is never short of drama, only a pilot officially trained in Bhutan is allowed to execute this approach. The descending plane manoeuvres through parallel ranges — A sharp turn to the left and suddenly the valley is in sight. The Paro Chhu River gushes over a bed of large white glacier polished pebbles, the unmissable Paro Dzong, a Bhutanese temple stands tall. As we emerge from the aircraft, we breathe in pine-scented pollution-free air. A night in Paro to acclimatise coincided with the popular Paro Festival. Women in brightly-coloured Kiras and men in traditional Goh twirled and danced at the mask dance performed around the Dzong.
YOMKULA CAMPING: Next morning, my husband Prashant and I along with our trip organiser Karma and EJ our birding guide left for East Bhutan. Flying over the small mountain town Trashigang, the only landing place had been taken over by a local market. The pilot had to minutely examine all options and we finally landed on a field. Our first night was in a tent pitched at Korila. The next day, we drove to Yomkula and pitched our campsite amidst sounds of chirping crickets and a persistently hooting collared owlet. Four days here were a discovery of nature’s abundance. we spotted Hodgsons flying squirrel, Malay squirrel and more. Moist chilly nights due to the rains were magically transformed when in the middle of nowhere, our resourceful cook served butter tossed tender river side ferns, forest mushrooms, Kewa Dashi (potatoes and cheese), the cheese bought along the way from local farmers, yak meat and steaming herbal tea with forest mint. It was sheer joy!
Truly, if nirvana could be actualised into experience — then this would be it! Serene, calm and adrenaline-pumping excitement seem to be on two ends of the emotion spectrum but there are some places on earth they can co-exist.