OFFBEAT BHUTAN: HOW CYCLING NEAR TANGO AND CHERI MONASTERY HELPED ME DISCOVER THE UNSEEN THIMPHU!

TANGO AND CHERI MONASTERIES in Thimphu and Cycling in Bhutan are often overlooked by the tourists in Bhutan. Our car covered 15 kilometers (30 minutes) from the Thimphu City to arrive at the gushing Wang Chu River.

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The bridge that leads to Tango and Cheri Monastery, Thimphu.

Some furry street dogs rested under the huge penis painting on the wall. (Read here about why they paint penis on the walls in Bhutan?) The wooden bridge transported the tourists on the other side. A huge painting of Guru Ringpoche dwarfed everything around it. Hundreds of small stupas in bright colors laid on the foot of the painting and in the crevices and cuts of the mountains. Devotees put these as offering along with Bhutanese and Indian notes which no one steals. There was absolute silence in the air except the chirps of the birds and the sound of the river. The air was even fresher than the pleasant capital city of Thimphu.

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Due to paucity of time, we decided not to hike up to the Tango and Cheri Monastery. Though I am sure it must have been an exciting hike. The lack of tourists makes it an exclusive experience to be enjoyed in solitude or with a loved one. Bhutan Bookings, the group with whom we were traveling, carried cycles for all 5 of us bloggers in a separate vehicle. As soon as the cycle was allotted to me, I wasted no time in hitting the pedal. 2 of us decided to walk the entire stretch though.

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The rest of us started together and then kept finding and losing each other as we rode on our pace and stopped at our own whims. The best thing about cycling is that it offers a more immersive experience. Rather than just passing through your destination, cycling helps you slow down, observe things minutely and absorb more. I did not know that Thimphu has great locations where one can cycle. Thanks to Bhutan Bookings which made us discover this joyful activity.

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We passed a rural hut, built entirely from wood. It was a departure from the official Bhutanese architecture. I stopped to see the hut closely. As I turned my head I was scandalized to see tiny structures peeping from green mountains.

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The monastery looked like the Tiger’s Nest. What made it different was the fact that a) there were many buildings in concentration, b) the mountain was greener and of course, c) the fact that it is easier to reach there. The river and the street docile dogs were my constant companions in the initial stretch. The air was perfumed with the dense foliage everywhere. A lone monk passed by. His maroon robe complimented the yellow flowers and dark green hills.

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We made a pit stop near a small Stupa for water. There was no way we were not stopping at the bridge ahead. I parked my cycle on the wayside and stood on the bridge. I was gobsmacked at the volume of water which gushed noisily through the dense forest on either side.  The prayer flags fluttered over the violent river. A little ahead another religious shrine stopped me in my tracks. A woman with few kids was offering prayers. A little ahead was the dramatically installed water powered prayer wheels.

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The inclines became steeper by now. I pedaled harder only to be rewarded with breath taking views of the verdant valley before. Charming bridges, clear water, tiny houses and tall prayer flags waving elegantly in the distance gave it a dream like quality. I decided to sit here for few minutes. Soon, all my other friends joined me, including those who chose to walk the stretch. We spent some time here and decided to call it a day. The cycles were loaded again in the vehicle and we drove off to have an authentic Bhutanese Lunch in the Folk Heritage Museum.

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Prayer wheel powered by water. We came across this while cycling in Thimphu, Bhutan.

Soul Window Tips:

  • Wear loose pants. Cotton track pants are best.
  • Carry water bottles. There are no shops en route.
  • Wear helmets.
  • No need to be scared of the street dogs. They are few and are docile.
  • Keep at least 2 hours extra to hike up to the Tango and Cheri monasteries.
  • It is great activity to be enjoyed with friends or family.

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Responsible Tourism- My Moral Policing

  • You are passing through a village. Don’t disturb the locals.
  • Don’t litter the place.
  • Don’t play loud music. Enjoy the silence.

YOU MAY ALSO LIKE THESE BLOGS ON BHUTAN:

A QUICK TREKKING GUIDE ON TIGER’S NEST MONASTERY AKA PARO TAKTSANG

WHY THEY PAINT PENIS DESIGNS ON THE WALLS OF BHUTAN

DRAYANGS: THE DANCE BARS OF BHUTAN

THE HAA VALLEY: BEST KEPT SECRET OF BHUTAN

ALL YOU WANTED TO KNOW ABOUT PARO

MUST DO THINGS IN THIMPHU: 30 EXCLUSIVE PICTURES

WHITE WATER RAFTING IN PUNAKHA: WHEN I JUMPED IN THE RIVER

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Disclaimer: My trip was sponsored and all the logistics were taken care of by Bhutan Bookings. Click here to plan your vacation in Bhutan with them.

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L to R – Dipanshu, Swati, Manjulika, Parnashree and me on completion of the cycling trail near Thimphu, Bhutan

I was accompanied by travel bloggers – Dipanshu, Manjulika, Parnashree and Swati in the fun company of Sonam Karma and Dipanjan from Bhutan Bookings. Click on their names to read their stories from Bhutan.

WARNING : COPYRIGHT TO ALL THE IMAGES AND TEXT HERE REMAINS WITH ME. YOU CAN NOT JUST LIFT THE CONTENT AND USE IT WITHOUT MY PERMISSION. STRICT LEGAL ACTION WILL BE TAKEN IF CONTENT IS STOLEN. YES, I AM SERIOUS.

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I was accompanied by travel bloggers – Dipanshu, Manjulika, Parnashree and Swati in the fun company of Sonam Karma and Dipanjan from Bhutan Bookings. Click on their names to read their stories from Bhutan.

WARNING : COPYRIGHT TO ALL THE IMAGES AND TEXT HERE REMAINS WITH ME. YOU CAN NOT JUST LIFT THE CONTENT AND USE IT WITHOUT MY PERMISSION. STRICT LEGAL ACTION WILL BE TAKEN IF CONTENT IS STOLEN. YES, I AM SERIOUS.

CYCLING IN JIM CORBETT NATIONAL PARK AND SECRET NIGHTLIFE OF RAMNAGAR. IT EXISTS!

On the second day of our stay at Corbett Iris Resort and Spa, when the hosts offered me and my blogger friIMG_2978 - Copyends to indulge in a cycle tour of the jungle, we lapped up at the idea without second thoughts. The jungle patch chosen was near Kyari village in the Pavalgarh conservative zone (51 sq km). Uttarakhand government declared it a tourism village in 2012.I had never cycled inside a jungle on rough terrains, so it was exciting for me. In no time, we all showed up at the cycle pick up point and headed towards the dense forest, not very far away from our resort in the buffer zone. Passing the huge termite forts and a pathway carpeted in dry foliage, we pedaled silently, soaking in the subtle sounds and smells of the jungle. We started together but were separated owing to individual fitness level and capacity to drag ourselves on the uneven terrains of the jungle. There was a time I was all alone in the jungle.

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My friends were not visible and this was the time I started hallucinating. I imagined a tiger staring at me from the trees, a leopard greedily eyeing the extra fat I have accumulated on my body, from a branch above me. Better still, a mad elephant charging at me. Luckily or unluckily, I did not see any mammal, just a variety of birds here and there. Just to give you a perspective, there are 41 tigers in this zone and scores of elephants.  This place is also a birder’s paradise and also attracts a lot of migratory birds in winters.

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Another blogger Parnashree (who skipped cycling) soon arrived in jungle with a staff member and asked us to follow them to reach the sunset point. Just in the nick of time. I pedaled in hurry, as if the tiger, leopard and the elephant had collaborated and were chasing me together. Once I was out of the jungle, I pedaled along the canal. It gave me a perspective of how long the canal from the British era was. We had used a part of this canal for body surfing in the morning.

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I was speechless, when my huffing and puffing culminated at the sunset point. Not due to the sunset but because of the location. The sunset was ordinary but the sceneries were not. We were at the edge of a dry river, the bed of which was strewn with white boulders, big and small. The wide river was lined with dense forest at the other end and is known for wildlife activity. I was told that the river swells in the monsoon months and is beyond recognition.

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We all went silent for some time, just soaking in the views, appreciating the stillness of the air, suspending the concept of time, money and urban life momentarily. The sky turned darker as we communed with nature. We decided to walk the cycle from here to the hotel. We, obviously, looked at it as an opportunity to slow down.

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THE SECRET NIGHTLIFE OF RAMNAGAR NO ONE TALKS ABOUT

The cycle tour was followed by a lovely Kumauni themed dinner at the resort. But what we didn’t anticipate was that our host will offer to show us the nightlife of Ramnagar….. Nightlife near Corbett? Ramnagar….what?

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As we passed the dark jungle post midnight, catching a glimpse of a sambar (Deer species) couple and a stray fox, we crossed the Kosi river. After adjusting our eyes to pitch darkness for past few minutes, we were almost blinded by the shiny signboards, lively markets of Ramnagar…. at 2 a.m.

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The first thing which crossed my mind was, “Is this place in running with North Goa or Las Vegas?” Certainly not! While the former have a lively nightlife because they are entertainment hubs, the nightlife of Ramnagar is more need based. It is a destination to catch bus to other places in Uttarakhand and nearby states. Fruits, sweets, cigarettes, medicines, clothes, beverages, meals, grocery et al! You name it, they have got it! It was amusing to just stroll on the road, observing the madness that this place is. I bet you may struggle to find a place like this even in metro cities like Mumbai and Delhi.

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On returning, we stopped at a site. It was separated by the jungle with a very wide river. The full moon illuminated the white boulders which inundated the river bed as a night jar lent a mysterious aura to the place with its haunting calls. We finally reached the resort at 3 a.m. after I battled sleep throughout the return journey. We are supposed to wake up at 5 a.m. for our jeep safari. I called it a day/night/whatever and entered my room as a peacock gave frantic calls in the distance. Yes, at 3 a.m.

Related blogs : 

Bodysurfing in Corbett

Corbett Iris Spa and Resort : Jungle beyond Tigers

Ladder Climbing in Corbett

Ziplining in Corbett

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Note: I was hosted by Corbett Wild Iris Resort and Spa.  The resort conducts many such adventure sports within the forest. Check their website for more info or ask me in commenst below. I was accompanied by travel blogger/journalists Mrs. Alka Kaushik, Mr. Dipanshu Goyal, Ms. Parnashree Devi, Ms. Swati Jain, Ms Suhana Sajwan

WARNING : COPYRIGHT TO ALL THE IMAGES AND TEXT HERE REMAINS WITH ME. YOU CAN NOT JUST LIFT THE CONTENT AND USE IT WITHOUT MY PERMISSION. STRICT LEGAL ACTION WILL BE TAKEN IF CONTENT IS STOLEN. YES, I AM SERIOUS.