As a child, summertime meant the pleasure of reading a book in one long, lazy sitting, preferably outdoors. In adulthood, this experience is a rarity. Which is why we are stoked to tell you that you can rekindle your affaire de coeur with books by attending the Mountain Echoes Festival this year in Thimphu, Bhutan. A communion of writers, biographers, historians, environmentalists, scholars, photographers, poets, musicians, artists and filmmakers, the event is a brilliant opportunity to connect with fellow book lovers and to familiarise yourself with perspectives that are seldom heard in literary conversations.
Mountain Echoes Festival 2019
The Mountain Echoes Literary Festival has come a long way in ten years. The event is an initiative of the India Bhutan Foundation, in association with Siyahi. It is presented by the Jaypee group. This year’s festival features multiple special events, ranging from author talks to workshops and exhibitions.
Highlights from 2018
Almost all the events last year stood out for the audience. Kezang Dorji and Maynia Dhubee O.G.’s discussion on the growing popularity of rap in Bhutan received a thunderous round of applause. Usha Uthup brought the house down with her sharp wit and mesmerizing performance. She sang the timeless classic song Yeh Dosti from the movie Sholay, describing the unbreakable bond between India and Bhutan.
Through the workshop Spoken Word 101, poet Sarah Kay took participants on a hands-on tour of spoken word poetry, leaving them with the tools they need to begin writing and performing their own work. Celebrated author Nilanjana S Roy (in picture) spoke of the habits and motivations of writers and thinkers. Sonam Chophel, founder of Druksell – Bhutan’s largest online marketplace and store for artisanal products and Tsedon Dorji, the managing director of Kuzoo FM – a youth-oriented Bhutanese radio station discussed the aspirations and realities of the young and the restless.
In its tenth edition, the Mountain Echoes Literary Festival 2019 shows no signs of slowing down. Here are a few important things you must keep in mind if you plan on attending this spectacular 3-day event:
- There is a creative high that comes with surrounding yourself with people who have taken the world by storm with their passion and determination. Make sure you understand that and do your best to wholly commit yourself to the festival experience.
- Peruse the program guide thoroughly before the event kicks off. When your panel ends, if you don’t know exactly where you’re headed next, you may miss out on an intensely thought-provoking session.
- Pay attention to venue locations. Some parallel discussions may require you to switch locations.
- Book your flight ticket and accommodation in advance to avoid last-minute hassles.
5 Attractions Near The Festival Venue
We have carefully shortlisted 5 attractions in the vicinity of the Royal University of Bhutan where the Mountain Echoes Festival is being held. Make sure to visit as many of them as you can:
1. Buddha Point (Kuensel Phodrang)
Located at a short drive from Thimphu city center, visitors can get a good overview of the Thimphu valley from the Buddha point (Kuensel Phodrang). You can pay your obeisance and offer prayers to the Buddha, the largest statue in the country and then walk around and take a glimpse of the valley. You may interact here with some of the monks who have devoted their life to spirituality and Buddhism.
2. Traditional Medicine Institute
In Bhutan, equal emphasis is given to both allopathic and traditional medicines. The rich herbal medicines made up from medicinal plants abundant in the Kingdom are prepared and dispensed here. The Institute is also a training school for traditional medicine practitioners. The complex is closed to visitors due to considerations of hygiene, but one can still walk around and view it from outside.
3. National Handicrafts Emporium
With the opening of National Handicrafts Emporium, Bhutanese textiles have reached new heights as one of the most visible distinct art forms. The textile museum has opened its exhibition on six major themes – warp pattern weaves, weft pattern weaves, the role of textiles in religion, achievements in textile arts, textiles from indigenous fibers and the royal collection.
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4. Trashi Chhoe Dzong
Also known as “fortress of the glorious religion”, it was initially built in 1641 and later rebuilt in its present form by KingJigme Dorji Wangchuk in 1965. The Dzong houses, main secretariat building which houses the throne room of His Majesty, the King of Bhutan. The National Assembly Hall is housed in a modern building on the other side of the river from the Dzong. During the warmer summer months, the monk body headed by His Holiness, the Je Khenpo, makes its home in the Dzong.
5. Craft Bazaar
Credits: Juhi Sharma
Organised on Tuesday and Wednesday in Centenary Farmer’s market, under the patronage of Department of cottage & small industry and in collaboration with the department of culture, tourism council and the department of agriculture marketing and cooperatives, this market offers genuine Bhutanese arts & crafts thus contributing to promotion, protection, and preservation of traditional arts.
How To Reach Mountain Echoes Festival
It is easy to get to the Royal University of Bhutan from anywhere in Thimphu by taxi. Mention the name of the venue to the taxi driver and make sure to confirm the tariff before getting into the taxi. It will take you around 20-30 minutes from town to reach the institute. Ask the driver to go through the main gate of the University and drop you at the parking lot.
The cultural landscape in Bhutan has seen a flowering of literature, cinema, art and music over the years. The Mountain Echoes Festival has brought forth stimulating ideas and successfully showcased Bhutan’s talent before world audiences. The event’s splendid journey reflects the extraordinary intellectual energy in Bhutan, which is evident in the profusion of creative voices. If you believe that art has the power to become an agent of change, book your trip to Bhutan right away and immerse yourself in this cultural extravaganza. We promise it will be worth your time.
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