“THOUSANDS OF CANDLES CAN BE LIGHTED FROM A SINGLE CANDLE, AND THE LIFE OF THE CANDLE WILL NOT BE SHORTENED. HAPPINESS NEVER DECREASES BY BEING SHARED.”
Bhutan seems to completely follow this Buddhist spiritual value and is the only country in the whole wide world to use Gross Domestic Happiness (GDH) as an index to measure progress. Both of us have immense fascination towards the tranquility of Buddhist culture and the lifestyle of its followers and this big idea of this tiny land inspired us to zero on Bhutan as our first couple holiday.
Bhutan follows extensive visa formalities before they let other nationals in their geographical boundaries, and because of this a lot of travelers find it complicated and give this country a miss. But they have been a little liberal to Indians nationals, allowing tourist permits at the port of entries making it one of the most accessible and budget international destinations from India. Bhutan is extremely easy to travel, especially from Kolkata.
How to Reach
The only operational international airport in Bhutan is Paro and unfortunately there were no direct flights between Kolkata and Paro when we travelled (now Druk Air has few flights). So we opted for train but you can easily find out the air connectivity from your city. The most convenient train from Kolkata is Kanchankanya Express that departs from Sealdah station at 8:30pm at night and reaches Hasimara at 10:30 am in the morning. One can easily avail an auto-rickshaw or a Maruti Omni from the station to reach the Indian border town Jaigaon that is separated by Phuentsholing by a beautiful painted gate. Once you cross the borders, know that Bhutan Time is 30 minutes ahead of Indian Standard Time.
Phuentsholing Permit Office –
Operates Monday to Friday, 9 am -5 pm
Lunch time is 1 pm-2 pm
Remains closed on Saturdays, Sundays and Government holidays
Passport is not mandatory for Indians, Voter ID card is accepted too
Time taken for issue of permits usually varied from 30 minutes to 1 hour
TIP – Reach Phuentsholing at least by first half on Friday to smoothly process the permits and not get stuck, as you can only travel till 5 kms without permits.