“Woo-hoo!” the young rider hurtling down the mountain in front of me screams. “Welcome to Bhutan’s Whistler!” He is referring, of course, to Canada’s Mecca for mountain biking.
On either side of me, the dense foliage is a blur. The boys in front of me skid and lean into turns, sending up sprays of dry oak leaves and pine needles. My knuckles, under my gloves, are no doubt white. I try to stay with the group, but pretty soon, it’s a futile exercise. The boys are flinging their bikes over fallen logs and branches, catching air where I come to a screeching halt barely surviving a bone-jarring crash. And most painfully for my ego, I’m having to pick up my bike to walk over the obstacles so I can keep riding. I’m navigating—less than gracefully—the second or third of such obstacles when I realize that the boys of the Thimphu Mountain Biking Club (TMBC) are long gone. I hear the distant echoes of their adrenaline-fuelled whoops and hollers until even that fades and I can barely spot their tiny, quickly receding shapes through the trees and underbrush, throwing miniature clouds of dust behind them as they barrel down the mountain.
That gives me a chance to continue riding at my own pace rather than the breakneck speed of earlier. All hopes of mountain biking cred with the youngsters tossed aside, I begin to enjoy the ride much better. The imminent threat of broken limbs or worse gone, I can hear the occasional breeze through the tall pines and cypress, and frequently, the whipping, twisting, and turning line of the trail brings me suddenly to clearings and overlooks with staggering views of the valley. Small clustered villages with their obligatory gold-roofed temples set on the knolls and saddles of the hills and ridges surrounded by rice fields and prayer flags and, far below, the sedately flowing Mochhu River skirting the edges of the valley’s massive monastery-fortress, the Punakha Dzong, which straddles its confluence like a great white ship at anchor.
Looping endlessly back and forth down the flanks of the mountain, I finally reach the technical section of the trail, where the TMBC boys are waiting for me. We negotiate the final rocky, boulder-strewn series of switchbacks, the boys gleefully and I barely hanging on to my bike. Finally, to my great relief, the trail spills on to a smooth, wide section of paved road next to the Mochhu River. Then we spin easily across a steel Bailey bridge that spans the water, with a lovely view of the 17th -century Punakha Dzong and its colorfully carved wooden cantilever walkway, coming abreast of lush rice-fields where local farmers bent over their work stand momentarily to wave at our motley crew in primary color helmets, spandex shorts (in my case), and neon-bright jerseys.
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OVER HILL, OVER DALE
The wild, windswept landscapes and industrial-age towns of Yorkshire, in northeastern England, might seem like an unlikely setting for a cultural and culinary groundswell. But in fact, as JOSHUA LEVINE finds, this has always been a place that fosters proudly unexpected points of view.
THE KING AND I
Luxury realtor SUSH CLAYS takes us to a royal wedding in the Noor Mahal Palace, home to the nawab of Rampur. Nawab Kazim Ali Khan tells the tale of the dynasty, its magnificent Raza Library, and years of progressive thinking that expanded the region and its many enterprises.
RAISING THE BAR
Cognac, the corner of southwestern France best known for its brandy, has long held fast to tradition. But as young chefs, winegrowers, and distillers shake up the status quo, the region is learning to embrace innovation—without losing its old-fashioned spirit.
STRAIGHT FROM THE SOURCE
From an Instagram star who leads photo tours of secret spots to a herbalist who shows visitors how to cook what they forage, enterprising Bermudians are giving travellers an insider’s perspective of the island’s dynamic culture.
IN THE CITY OF SAINTS
On a journey to Ethiopia, SARAH KHAN wanders the ancient alleyways of Harar and finds a new link to her faith—one that makes even the most far-flung place feel familiar.
The Intelligent Traveller
Tips and Tricks to Help you travel Smarter
FROM THE ROYAL COOKBOOK
Rewa in Madhya Pradesh used to be a hunting ground for maharajas, but few were privy to its recipes involving game meat. As the royal cuisine adapts to the times, GEETIKA SACHDEV samples its flavourful offerings.
OLD STITCH, NEW THREAD
The cover girls of this issue are wearing a wonderful fusion of tradition and modernity, thanks to a vibrant collection from Raw Mango. AINDRILA MITRA speaks to the brand’s founder and textile designer, Sanjay Garg, about the collection, sustainable fashion, and measured innovation within traditional textile practices.
EXCLUSIVELY YOURS, SANTORINI
A couple travels to the famous Greek island in winter to find it completely bereft of tourists, an unlikely but ideal scenario for a honeymoon.
SPREADING HER WINGS
YOUTUBE, NETFLIX, AND THE BIG SCREEN—ACTOR MITHILA PALKAR HAS SHONE ON EVERY PLATFORM SHE HAS EXPLORED IN HER SHORT ACTING CAREER SO FAR. WHILE MOST ATTRIBUTE HER SUCCESS TO A GIRL NEXT-DOOR DEMEANOUR, WE SEE A VERSATILE ARTIST JUST STARTING TO UNLEASH HER FULL POTENTIAL.
Bhutan's requirements will always be top priority for India, says Prime Minister
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Bhutanese counterpart Lotay Tshering jointly launched e- RuPay card Phase-II. Both the leaders had jointly launched Phase-I of the project during the State Visit of the Prime Minister to Bhutan in August last year.
'My girls have a new life'
It’s been two years since conjoined twins Nima and Dawa were separated by Australian doctors – and now, back at home, they’re flourishing. Samantha Trenoweth catches up with the little Bhutanese girls who stole the hearts of Australians.
बोधगया - ट्रैवल फोटोग्राफर्स के लिए एक गंतव्य
बोधगया - ट्रैवल फोटोग्राफर्स के लिए एक गंतव्य
Six Senses Bhutan
The architecture and interior of this luxury hotel’s five lodges perfectly frame the country’s majestic landscape.
Nomadic Trails in Bhutan
Sephu and Layap Pastoral Communities
पाकिस्तान के अस्तित्व में आने के बाद से भारत के संबंध कभी मधूर नहीं रहे. इसके कुछ मूल कारण है. लेकिन बांग्लादेश, अफगानिस्तान, नेपाल, भूटान, श्रीलंका, म्यांमार और चीन से संबंधों में वह गर्मजोशी नहीं रही जो कि दशक भर पहले रहा करती थी.
ANG TSHERING LAMA
A SHERPA’S RENDEZVOUS WITH BHUTAN HIMALAYAS
The Real Happiness Index Of Travel
Janhavi Acharekar pays tribute to all the people who made her journeys worthwhile and meaningful
The Discovery Of India: An Architect's Journey
Pune based iconic architect Christopher Charles Benninger, the founder of the practice CCBA Designs, has added a new vocabulary to modern Indian architecture. In this essay, he artistically and pungently shares with us his beliefs in architecture, his life-evolution and most importantly, pointers to the way forward. Architecture+Design feels privileged to bring to you this very ‘straight from the heart’ writing penned down by the Master —
BHUTAN IS THE LAND OF HAPPINESS, DRAMATIC LANDSCAPES, AND RICH BIODIVERSITY, WHERE EVERYTHING LIVES IN ONE HARMONIOUS EXISTENCE.