A mountain flight to remember

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A flight to Bhutan was one of the most memorable flights of my life and one of the scariest of them all. A time when I literally felt and had the world at my feet! How? Well, I was flying next to the Mt. Everest, that’s how! Also when my belief in ignorance is bliss was reinstated!

No, I am not high on anything.

 Yes, I understand I am not making much sense, but just bear with me and read along!

Bhutan- The Himalayan Kingdom

We visited Bhutan- the Himalayan Kingdom around 2 years back. The idea was seeded by a cousin who had recently traveled to the Himalayan Kingdom and spoke highly about the natural beauty of Bhutan. We had been contemplating Sikkim, but considering my younger kids age and our holidays that was not going to work out, so we started considering Bhutan.

While reading about how to reach Bhutan, we realized there is a flight from India, Delhi. We also read about the fantastic views of the Himalayas and Mt. Everest that one can witness when in this flight.

Let’s face it, I am not the trekker kind so, me actually going to Mt. Everest or even the Base Camp is highly unlikely, so the next best option to see these majestic mountains was via flight and I was not going to miss that chance!

Flight to Bhutan

Bhutan’s air connectivity is limited. From India, they have DrukAir, which is the Royal Bhutan Airlines by the Govt. of Bhutan. We had heard that there was another flight from Mumbai, but when we checked, we didn’t find it. We booked our early morning flight from Delhi to Bhutan and then got busy with travel preparations. As the flight was early in the morning around 5 am we reached Delhi a day early and stayed at a hotel close to the airport.

Photo Credit Nikhil Tambe

Morning Check-In fun!

So, on the D-day, we got up and got ready in a flurry and reached the airport with the luggage and two kids in tow! As we got into the line for check-in, I looked around to realize we were the only Indians on that flight! Imagine feeling out of place in your own country 😛 There were people from different nationalities and some had come to India to catch this specific flight from Delhi. Himalayan views were certainly a big draw.

Everyone wanted the left window seats as they have the best views. The flight crew ensured that at least one member from the family requesting for the left window seats got it. We too got our precious left window seat.

As we got into the flight, DD quipped about lack of in-flight entertainment. As the flight was early morning and the time taken around 3 hours, I assumed most would be sleeping in the flight, but boy I was way off the mark!

Flight of a Lifetime

Our flight took off on time and after around half an hour we were served breakfast. Just as the breakfast was over as if on cue the Himalayan ranges came into view. It was so mesmerizing and thrilling that even today I get goosebumps while thinking about it.

Standing tall, in order, and covered in sheets of white these beautiful Himalayan ranges reminded me the might of nature and how inconsequential human really is!

Out of nowhere, there was a flurry of activity in the flight. Most of them took out their fancy DSLR cameras and started clicking pictures of the ranges. I made a feeble attempt with my phone camera.

Photo Credit Nikhil Tambe

Just as the whole buzz and activity around clicking pictures died down the pilot casually mentioned, and here to your left is Mt. Everest!  The Mt. Everest looked as if I was viewing a nearby mountain from a height! The mighty mountain looked so close and that’s when I realized how big the mountain really must be! To be nearly touching an airplane!

At this point, the whole flight had gone crazy and everyone was craning their necks to see the Mt. Everest. Those unlucky ones, who could not get the left window seats, requested those in the window to click the pictures for them. At one point when almost everyone was to the left, I was sure the flight was going to tilt because of the weight!

It’s Time to Land

Time flew in the DrukAir flight. By the time people settled down in their seats again, it was time to descend. I took out the DrukAir in-flight magazine Tashi Delek (Greetings in Bhutanese) and was reading an interesting article about the education in Bhutan when I heard a few ‘gasps’ and ‘Oh! My God’ from the passengers in front of me! By now I and my husband had traded places and he was sitting near the window seat. I could suddenly see the mountains really close to the window and the next moment it felt like the plane was making a U-turn. Then I could see some houses really close to the window and then again we were in the air.

It didn’t make much sense to me, and then in a few minutes could feel the descent. After a few more minutes we had landed and the whole aircraft broke into applause. ‘ What a landing, exclaimed the gentleman in front of me!’ and a teen from the front rows actually went up to the crew captain and spoke about pilots skill.

By now, I knew something was up and I looked at my husband with questioning eyes. He said ‘ This was the best experience and a skilled landing’. He explained that the maneuver in the Himalayas and landing at Paro airport is considered one of the toughest and only a handful of pilots are cleared to fly the planes here! Now you get the reference of ignorance is bliss? I never knew I was going to one of the dangerous airports in the world when I signed up for a flight to Bhutan! I missed reading all about that in my excitement to see Mt.Everest.

But, if given a chance would definitely go back as the views from the window make up for everything!

Post Author: Neha Tambe

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