An SUV adventure safari into mystical Bhutan, the lair of the Thunder Dragon.
‘ADVENTURE 23 rolling to Thimphu’ – the standard protocol came through on the radio as we crossed borders and entered Phuntsholing in Bhutan. Being addressed by our adventure numbers and being part of a group of like-minded adventure-hungry travellers was mighty thrilling!
It's been six years since Mahindra has been organising their 'Great Escapes'. Their adventure drives include cross country expeditions, weekend getaways, one-day excursions and off-road training programmes. Currently their calendar is packed with 30 different events held across the country from multiple-day expeditions to single day off-road escapades. Every year the Adventure Team adds a new expedition to keep things interesting. Recently they traversed the country length-wise, covering 5100km from Kashmir to Kanyakumari.
This time Ceat tyres invited us for the drive. The idea was to organise an overland border crossing and hence was born, 'Authentic Bhutan' – a seven-day expedition that would traverse the challenging terrain Bhutan had to offer, enjoy the magnificent monasteries, overcome altitude changes and fight the biting cold. If that wasn't enough, demonetisation! — just two days in, had our currency become as good as tissue paper, which was another adventure altogether.
The journey began with a long wait at the immigration office. 35 orange-striped cars, 80 adventure-goers dressed in bright green t-shirts; well we were a sight and did create quite a commotion. But nevertheless, four hours later we finally got on to the road towards Thimphu – the capital of Bhutan.
A lowdown for the less informed, Bhutan is known as ‘the land of the Thunder Dragon’, a reference to the country’s dominant Buddhist sect. Known for being the ‘happiest country in the world’, here wealth is measured in terms of happiness (Gross National Happiness), surprising yet true.
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