This August, Bhutan beckons all as the Mountain Echoes Literary Festival returns with its ninth edition. An initiative of the India-Bhutan Foundation and India’s leading literary agency, Siyahi, the festival will be held this year from 23-25 August in the Bhutanese capital of Thimphu.

Presented by the Jaypee Group and powered by the Department of Tourism, Government of Rajasthan, the Festival is known for bringing together literary stalwarts from across the world in the lap of the Himalayas. The coming edition will celebrate 50 years of formal diplomatic relations between India and Bhutan and will pay tribute to the rich cultural ties between the two nations.

The 2018 edition of the fest will focus on subjects such as spirituality and philosophy, performing arts, environmental conservation, food, as well as film and theatre among others. Each session will witness noteworthy names being a part of engaging discussions with the audience, thereby bringing together a range of expertise and perspectives on stage throughout the three days.

The inaugural session will see Bhutan’s Ambassador to India, General V. Namgyel, and India’s Ambassador to Bhutan, Jaideep Sarkar, in conversation with Dasho Chewang Rinzin, deputy chamberlain to the King of Bhutan, Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck. The three eminent personalities will lead a discourse on 50 years of friendship between India and Bhutan.

Continuing the literary extravaganza across the festival, will be names such as Andrew Quintman, a scholar of Buddhism in Tibet; authors and environmentalists Daniel C. Taylor and Dave Goulson; celebrated spoken word poet Sarah Kay; renowned Indian singer Usha Uthup; as well as Indian actors and theatre veterans Naseeruddin Shah and Ratna Pathak Shah.

Other prominent speakers attending the three-day festival include Nilanjana Roy, author of The Wildings; Kunzang Choden, Bhutan’s first woman writer to write an English novel; L. Somi Roy, author of Binodini: A Photographic Memoir; Chador Wangmo, author of various illustrated children’s books; and Kezang Dorji, one of Bhutan’s most loved rappers.

Adding to the heritage and legacy of the festival will be popular names such as the tiger conservationist Valmik Thapar, theatre personality Sanjana Kapoor, celebrated dancer Dr Sonal Mansingh, and celebrity chef and author of popular culinary books Ritu Dalmia.

The 2018 festival will also explore global and locally relevant subjects related to natural history, travel and poetry, including a tribute to 50 years of the Beatles in India.

Founder and co-director of Mountain Echoes, Namita Gokhale, said, “Mountain Echoes, the Bhutan Literary Festival, is an exuberant celebration of cultural

connectivities, resonating with the joys of books and cinema, the shared narratives of music and folklore , food and sport, as well as deep spiritual perspectives, and the challenges of our changing world. This year, we also have a special and important focus honoring the strong ties between India and Bhutan in their 50th year of diplomatic relations.”

Commenting further, Festival Co-Director Pramod Kumar KG, managing director of Eka Archiving Services Pvt. Ltd, said, “Mountain Echoes has become an epicentre connecting cultures and geographies through the powers of human imagination. It brings alive the roots of our origin, connecting us to others through an exchange of thoughts and ideas. Our aim has always been to bring a different flavour to the festival each year and the ninth edition will be yet another powerful celebration of literature”

Bhutan’s literary festival was established under the patronage of Her Majesty the Royal Queen Mother Ashi Dorji Wangmo Wangchuck, and the ninth edition of the festival will serve to be a collaborative platform for knowledge sharing, leading to global cultural potpourri of ideas.

Eminent Bhutanese author and festival co-director, Tshering Tashi, added, “Mountain Echoes has become a key event in the Bhutanese calendar bringing both the curious and the intellectual minds together for three days of fun. The niche festival will spark the imagination of both local and global audiences through a diverse range of electrifying conversations. We cordially invite all not only to be part of the conversations but also experience the beauty and rich culture and history of Bhutan. In 2018, we are all set to take the notch higher with an exciting canvas for all attendees, who will get a glimpse into our varied cultural heritage through the numerous gatherings planned over the three days.”

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