The one reason to head to Bhutan this August
The 2018 edition of Mountain Echoes Literary Festival takes place in Thimphu
Including a panel discussion on the Himalayan yeti. August in Bhutan is perfect for watching the rains blanket the hills over a cup of tea—or better yet, meeting your favourite authors and getting inspired to write at the Mountain Echoes Literary Festival in Thimphu. It will run from Thursday, 23 August to Saturday, 25 August, 2018. That’s 35 sessions in three days, over five venues.
The most towering presence at the festival is, of course, always the Himalayas, and this year’s edition celebrates a halfcentury of diplomatic ties between two countries shaped by this mighty range. India and Bhutan’s relationship will take centrestage at the inaugural session, with Bhutan’s ambassador to India, General V Namgyel, his counterpart Jaideep Sarkar, and Dasho Chewang Rinzin, deputy chamberlain to Bhutan’s King Jigme Khe- sar Namgyel Wangchuck.
There is no better platform to discuss the Himalaya’s most famous mystery: the yeti. Daniel C Taylor, author of Yeti: The Ecology of a Mystery will chat about the abominable snowman with festival co-director Tshering Tashi, and Karma Singye Dorji, writer of Dreaming of Prayer Flags: Stories and Images from Bhutan. The humble bumblebee also gets a spotlight in a conversation between authors Dave Goulson and environmentalist Karma Samdrup, with more wildlife insights from conservationist Valmik Thapar.
Also expect a tribute to 50 years of the Beatles in India, Ratna Pathak Shah and Sanjna Kapoor on the evolution of theatre, and a roundtable conversation with veterans of the Bhutanese and Indian film industries.
It’s not all talk and no play—turn up for performances by spoken word poet Sarah Kay, Bhutanese rappers Kezang Dorji and Maynia Dhubee OG, and a performance of Vikram Seth’s poems and James Thurber’s short stories by Naseeruddin Shah and Ratna Pathak Shah.
Make haste to register for the workshops: Sarah Kay gives a crash course in spoken word poetry, Sanjna Kapoor has a kids’ theatre workshop, Sonam Wangmo Jhalani covers the elements of fiction with the texts of Willa Cather and Michale Ondaatje, and Karma Jurmi runs a calligraphy introduction to the dzongkhag tshugyig script.
Now in its ninth edition, the festival is an initiative of the India-Bhutan Foundation and India’s Siyahi literary agency, presented by the Jaypee Group and powered by Rajasthan’s department of tourism, under the patronage of Her Majesty the Royal Queen Mother Ashi Dorji Wangmo Wangchuck.
Thimphu will host the Mountain Echoes Literary Festival 2018. Photo: Andrew Stranovsky Photography / Getty Images