Trips and Itineraries for Gangtok
Top Places To Visit in Gangtok 75 Spots
The Nathula merges the Indian state of Sikkim with China's Tibet Autonomous Region. The pass is situated, at 4,310 m above sea level, forms as a piece of a branch of the old Silk Road. Nathu signifies "listening ears" and La signifies "go" in Tibetan. On the Indian side, the pass is 54 km (34 mi) east of Gangtok, the capital of Indian state of Sikkim. Just natives of India can visit the pass, but only after successfull permit from the administration of Gangtok. Nathu La is one of the two open trading border posts in the middle of China and India.The others being Shipkila in Himachal Pradesh and Lipulekh in Nepal. Sealed by India after the 1962 Sino-Indian War, Nathu La was re-opened in 2006 after various trade understandings. The Chinese government is wanting to extend its rail administration to Yadong, barely a couple of kilometers from Nathu La.
Four hours away from Gangtok, lies the kingdom of snow i.e. the Nathula Border-the famous gateway on the silk route on the Indo-China Border. After a slow and steep drive through the mountains-which change their colour from a sumptuous green to a barren black to a snowy white, one reaches the Nathula border-along with many tourists who regularly throng this major attraction in Gangtok. On the to Nathula, lies the Tsomgo Lake- an un-rippled glass sheet in which the snowy mountains silently admire their own reflections. To beat the cold, duck into the café run by the army and treat yourself to coffee and chocolate. At Tsomgo, treat yourself to hot noodles at many of the small eateries dotting its banks.
Nathu La, the border crossing between India and China, is around 56km from Gangtok. Things to remember before visiting Nathu La. 1. It is open to Indian nationals on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sundays. 2. The visitors have to get the permit to visit the place by applying to the Tourism and Civil Aviation Department through a registered and recognized Travel Agency. 3. Foreign nationals are not allowed to visit Nathula. 4. Photography is strictly prohibited here. Even then, this spot is a must-see for those allowed to visit.
The next day I set out for Nathu La. The feeling was heavenly seeing our National flag at one end and Chinese one at the opposite end. The pass had a cool cafe for tourist owned by Indian Army. There is a war memorial near the border and climbing further high, I was standing right on the border. Behind me it was the international fence and beyond that the Chinese conference hall. If I had moved a feet ahead I would have been inside China... of course behind the bars thereafter.. The situation was amazing,, surrounded with fog, chill breeze at Sino border.
Nathula is a place for those who can take heights. Situated at over 14,000 feet, this Indo-China border is a good place to visit for its different kind of geography. to visit Nathula, it is a good idea to first change base to Gangtok, capital of Sikkim, for Nathula is around two hours from Gangtok. and while you are at it, you could visit the capital too.
Day 3 was spent on Nathu La, Baba Harbhajan Singh Mandir and Tsomgo lake. The difficult journey to Nathu La only enhanced the thrill of watching over the border into China. Baba Harbhajan Singh mandir was built as a tribute to a soldier of the Indian Army, who died near the place where the temple is built. Tsomgo lake is located at an altitude of 12,400 ft. It is sacred to the locals, and is extremely well maintained and clean. Cradled amongst the mountains, it is definitely a sight to behold.
Located 14,000 ft above the sea level Nathu La is the Indo China border. It is one place which just should not be missed on trip to Sikkim. The journey is long and treacherous but the views and sights make up for the discomfort. In winters there is heavy snow fall but if lucky enough you might just witness a milder version the rest of the year. One is filled with a sense of pride watching the Indian Army camps scattered about on the way. Once reaching the destination, the civilians are not allowed to go to the actual border which is nothing but a barbed wire. Rather they are just made to see the border from a distance. But if pulled a few strings, one could go up till the border and even get photographed with the Chinese soldiers from across the border who actually enjoy getting photographed.
The Nathu La is situated at a altitude of 14140 feet and is 52 km from Gangtok. Remember studying history in the junior classes where we had been taught about the Silk route. This is the place from which the Silk route operated where trade between Tibet and India took place. On your way to the site, you will encounter an ATM. Since the altitude is so high and it is difficult to find any resources available, yet a place called Thegu has the ATM facility which is the highest point in the world. One nedds speical permit to visit this place and only Indians are allowed here. The oxygen level in this height is very low so one can carry cylinders along with them which costs around 4k to 5k.
Nathula Pass was a major corridor of passage between India and China..an altitude of 14,450 ft, the road to Nathula passes through the Tsomgo lake. It is one of the highest motorable roads in the world and is richly surrounded by alpine flora. Tourists are allowed to go close to the international border from where you can see Chinese soldiers on the other side of the barbed wire.The only one authorised road between India and china..
Its a border for Trade route between India & China. STill its worth a visit since it is located around 56 kms from Gangtok at an altitude of 14450 ft, the road to Nathula passes through the Tsomgo lake. It is one of the highest motorable roads in the world and is richly surrounded by alpine flora. On a clear day you can even see the road winding down the Chumbi valley. Tourists are allowed to go close to the international border from where you can see Chinese soldiers on the other side of the barbed wire. Nathula is open for Indian nationals on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sundays. The visitors have to get the permit to visit the place by applying to the Tourism and Civil Aviation Department through a registered and recognised Travel Agency. Foreign nationals are not allowed to visit Nathula. Photography is strictly prohibited.
54 kms east of Sikkim stands the famous Nathula Pass at 14,140 ft above sea level on Indo-China boarder. There are no permanent human settlement in the area and one will find blinding snow and thick fog on both the sides of the road. 5 mins from the Nathula gate and you reach the stone walled passageway that lines the not land mined part of the boarder. On one side few Indian Soldiers were smiling after seeing me struggling with the knee length snow and spine chilling wind (one humble soldier offered me his green cap) on the other side were the Chinese flags reflecting their dominance over the Tibet autonomous region.
The Indo-chinese border and the way to Kailash-Mansarovar. Also, an important place for the ancient silk route.
Nathula Pass - India China Border At 14000 Feet, Gangtok. Nathu La is a mountain pass in the Himalayas. Connecting the Indian state of Sikkim with China's Tibet Autonomous Region, the pass, at 4,310 m above mean sea level, forms a part of an offshoot of the ancient Silk Road. Border area and roads have been brilliantly maintained by the Indian Army.
Located at an altitude of 14,140 feet and 52kms from Gangtok, Nathula Pass was the place through which the famous Silk Route used to operate until 1962. This used to be a trade route between India and Tibet. Lines of mules used to carry silk, gold and many other items from Tibet to India and take daily essentials back to Tibet. The fenced Indo-China border is also few meters away and you can see both Indian and Chinese soldiers guarding the border. The guards are friendly. A stairway leads to the border. There is no 'no mans land' here. Even today, mails are delivered across the border on certain days of the week. There is an engraved stone here called Nehru Stone which marks the visit of former Prime Minister of India Jawaharlal Nehru who visited in 1958. CAUTION:Because of the high altitude at Nathula, oxygen level in the air is quite low. Few (adults or children) can face breathing problems at Nathula.
1.NATHULA PASSNathula Pass,is a pass in the Indo-China border region in the Himalyas and is situated at an altitude of 14,450 feet and is located around 56km from gangtok.Fllanked by mountain on one side and the Tsongmo Lake on the other side,the pass was a beautiful destination in it's own.We started early to visit the Shrine of Baba Harbhajan shrine.There is a very interesting story behind this,which you can read here :http://www.sikkimsilkroute.com/baba-mandir/TIP:1.Nathula Pass is only open for the citizens of India,after obtaining the required permit.The permit can be arranged by the travel agency or by some of the hotels. Identity proof and 2 passport size photographs are required,and cost per person is Rs 200. For unorganized souls like me,who forget to carry their photographs,there are plenty of shops in MK marg which provide instant photos.Also it is best to get the pass well in advance.2.Do not shoot photographs in the restricted area,near the border.Or they (the Chinese) will shoot you.
Last day in Gangtok and I started early for Nathula Pass on the Indo-China border. It was the single-best road trip I have ever made as we navigated through treacherous roads that, literally had us driving through the clouds. The driver was a pleasant guy who drove carefully and slowly, while regaling me with local folklore and stories of his own life. We arrived at Nathula at 14000 feet in about 3 hours. Temperatures were close to 0 degrees and oxygen was scarce which left me huffing and panting while regretting the fact that I never thought to bring actual warm clothes. Since this was the first time I had visited a border, the whole experience of standing just a foot away from China was surreal. On the other side one can see the towering snow-clad peaks of Tibet pockmarked by Chinese observation posts. But unlike the Indian side which was teeming with tourists there was hardly any movement on that side. Having collected my visitation certificate and paid my respects to the war memorial, we visited the Baba Harbhajan Singh Mandir, dedicated to an army man who was martyred in the border skirmish. Set beside a glacial lake which, in one of the best images of the trip, had clouds caressing the surface, the temple is maintained by the army who believe the spirit of the Baba keeps them safe and protects them. We also stopped at the Changu Lake on our way back which was a very scenic lake with yaks in beautifully colored garb. I was back in Gangtok by 4 pm, having started at 7 am and bid adieu to the place the next morning.
Trip to Nathula Pass one of the highest peaks in India makes you feel adventurous. A night walk at MG market makes you feel refreshed.This trip is full of adventure,spectacular views and joy.This trip never failed to impress me. Every day of this trip was exciting and new. Sikkim is a place to be visited atleast once in your lifetime. At the end of the trip all I thought was about coming back again and spend more days.A new kind of energy was brought into the life after the trip.
Third day we went Nathula pass. It`s a very awesome place to visit. Sight scene was awesome in this trip. Some snow was also there in the hills of Nathu La way. Changu lake looked very beautiful due to snowy hills around. Also visited Baba mandir nearby nathula.
I was completely lost in the beauty of the view and then the taxi stopped, people got down and I was confused that where did I reach. My hands and lips got numb, my each and every part of the body was being tested by the coldness. All I had was that one jacket, which I was wearing, no gloves or caps. A person came up to me and said that "Son, be careful. Don't let the excitement kill you. It's -5, the oxygen level is also quite low. So be careful."When my body was being tested that was the time I noticed these two soldiers standing tall, unmoved, unaffected and I realized that I have reached Nathula pass. I felt inspired, I felt motivated and proud. The slogans 'Jai Hind' and 'Bharat Maata ki jai' came right from the heart and was not forced. The soldiers guarding the border explained me how they have to survive in difficult conditions. How can I describe this feeling of pride of being an Indian, it is meant not to be told but rather to be felt.
Nathula Pass,East Sikkim-The Nathula pass at an altitude of about 14,400 feet above sea level is the Indo China border in Sikkim.The altitude makes it hard for people with breathing problems out here.There is a Cafe on the way to the border and China is clearly visible from the border and there is a restriction on cameras and mobile phone's in the border(ie photos and videos are not allowed to be shot).There are no homestays or hotels out here so you cannot halt for a night out here.There is not much out here but the fact that it is the Indo-China border makes it very precious and tourists cannot afford miss this in their Sikkim Trip.
This pass is a Indochina border , the soldiers there are kind enough to answer questions we ask them . Photography is strictly not allowed but you can click pictures from the parking like we did.Road trip from Gangtok to DarjeelingDay 4There are a lot of options to do on this route like water rafting or visiting Lamahata a botanical garden , we have to skip both because of time constraint and we chose to visit Rumtek instead.Rumtek Monestary
Nathula Pass is one destination wherein incredible India tours can turn into an international one. This trade link between China and India is located at the height of 14,140 feet above sea level.Best Time To Visit: JuneOther Things To Do: Baba Mandir and Tsomgo Lake. 9. Revel in Luxury at Udaipur, Rajasthan
We were asked to reach the taxi stand at 8 AM,The journey to Nathula pass was to be started early morning cause there were more view points to see. But the driver was the only person who came late, we almost waited for an hour and then the journey began a 16 seater vehicle with two newly wedded couple,a family with 7 members,me and my friend,the driver,his helper and a solo backpacker ( the most interesting guy i met on this trip) this guy is professionally a teacher and a Pilgrim by passion,we shared our travelling experiences,he is the only guy i found with the same frequency of travelling as mine,he told me his dream is to visit all the 51 Shaktipeeths and his name is Genie,yes Genie- as i told you we both share same frequencies and may be as a matter of fact we don't like to travel with our original names so we didn't share our original names instead we call each other by the name we prefer he likes to call himself Genie and i love the name Vagabond,its been almost 5 months to this trip and still we are in touch, i must say i met a great guy.And our journey began,after driving for an hour we entered the scenic beauty of Sikkim something which is not possible to describe in words. We started driving towards the hill top where the Nathula pass is situated surrounded with the army base camps,we stopped at two places before reaching the pass,one where the driver took the permission from the army camps and the other where we had to eat our breakfast,do keep in mind to fill yourself with a little of food before reaching Nathula pass and ensure to carry a warm jacket with you as it is to too cold up there,the temperature at that time was 5 degree C,and i guess your driver will guide you few things. The view from Nathula was amazing we went up the hill and met two Chinese soldiers one of them was very friendly but the other one was not even ready to shake hands,reason nobody knows. We spent around half an hour there, then on our way back we got our certificate which shows that we have visited Nathula pass situated at 14000 ft from sea level which is half of the height of Mt. Everest.
We were asked to reach the taxi stand at 8 AM,The journey to Nathula pass was to be started early morning cause there were more view points to see. But the driver was the only person who came late, we almost waited for an hour and then the journey began a 16 seater vehicle with two newly wedded couple,a family with 7 members,me and my friend,the driver,his helper and a solo backpacker ( the most interesting guy i met on this trip) this guy is professionally a teacher and a Pilgrim by passion,we shared our travelling experiences,he is the only guy i found with the same frequency of travelling as mine,he told me his dream is to visit all the 51 Shaktipeeths and his name is Genie,yes Genie- as i told you we both share same frequencies and may be as a matter of fact we don't like to travel with our original names so we didn't share our original names instead we call each other by the name we prefer he likes to call himself Genie and i love the name Vagabond,its been almost 5 months to this trip and still we are in touch,i must say i met a great guy. (couldn't get his picture cause we were busy enjoying)And our journey began,after driving for an hour we entered the scenic beauty of Sikkim something which is not possible to describe in words. We started driving towards the hill top where the Nathula pass is situated surrounded with the army base camps,we stopped at two places before reaching the pass,one where the driver took the permission from the army camps and the other where we had to eat our breakfast,do keep in mind to fill yourself with a little of food before reaching Nathula pass and ensure to carry a warm jacket with you as it is to too cold up there,the temperature at that time was 5 degree C,and i guess your driver will guide you few things. The view from Nathula was amazing we went up the hill and met two Chinese soldiers one of them was very friendly but the other one was not even ready to shake hands,reason nobody knows. We spent around half an hour there, then on our way back we got our certificate which shows that we have visited Nathula pass situated at 14000 ft from sea level which is half of the height of Mt. Everest.
Feeling the wind in my hair on a 60-km downhill ride to GangtokNathula Pass - Gangtok (12, 500 ft - 5400ft).Distance: 59.5 kmWith sore posteriors and soaring spirits, the last day of cycling was something we were really excited about. After an almost 100-km uphill ride in the last few days, today was all about a comfortable 60-km downhill ride from Nathula to Gangtok.Traversing through the winding roads, waving to the army men on the way who were almost surprised to see the squad on wheels at this altitude. It was also the day I met a friend of mine, who was posted at one of the army camps near Tsomgo Lake. We were greeted with warm apple juice and pakodas by the men in uniforms. Needless to say, the army always lives up to the culture of hospitality they are known for.We also had to manoeuvre our bikes through the long traffic jam due to a landslide and move past all the vehicles stuck below Tsomgo Lake. We had descended quite a bit and the Bengali tourists at Tsomgo Lake stopped us multiple times for quick selfies and at times borrowed our cycles to get themselves clicked. Did we mind? Of course.All this while, we were racing with the dark clouds above us and the sole aim was to reach Gangtok before it would rain. Luckily, we skipped any sort of havoc on the final day and when we reached the city, it was bright and sunny. The kids coming back from school, the sound of whizzing vehicles and the fluttering prayer flags in the outskirts of the city, it all felt like coming back to the life we took a break from.
Everything was according to plan till we reached Nathula pass.
4. Snow Lover- Gateway to Blissful Snow!Have never seen snow before then Sikkim is the right destination for you. It can be experienced in Nathula Pass and Tsomga Lake also known as Changhu Lake. The view of snow will mesmerize you and leave you spell bound. It can be called as Kashmir of Northeast India. Image courtesy google below:
Banjhakri Water Falls
Banjhakri falls is a remarkable touristy spot in Sikkim. There is very popular story behind this spot and its name. The word "Banjhakri" means woodland shaman, now if we separate it further "Boycott" implies primitive and "Jhakri" implies shaman. Shaman is a priest among specific people of northern Asia, viewed as one with recuperating and supernatural forces who can impact the spirits and achieve good and evil. Furthermore, it is these Shamanistic practices that are delineated by means of the dolls in this amusement park. Some of these portray customs, some recuperating ceremonies and others the start process in the life of a shaman. All these are entirely fascinating as is the waterfall that thunders down from a height of say 70 feet. Few facilities have been built for the visitors to go closer to the waterfall and take a shower.This a ideal place for kids to enjoy and is also best for family hangouts.
Surrounded by beautiful gardens , it is a picnic spot where you will go crazy clicking pictures and admiring the beauty of the waterfall.Paragliding over Gangtok cityIf you are an adrenaline junkie like me , it is an experience of the lifetime . It will cost you 2500 rs and 500 extra for videoDo Drul ChortenIt is the popular Stupa built by Rinpoche , a Tibetan Buddhist , it is surrounded by 108 prayer wheels . Road trip from Gangtok to Nathula passDay 3The route from Gangtok to Nathula pass is awesome but if you get car sick easily then don’t forget to take a tablet prior.Changu Lake ( Tsomgo Lake)
Post breakfast we proceed towards it . It is one of the biggest park and has a beautiful waterfall in it.Entry Fee 50/- per person
MG Marg Market
"M. G. Marg otherwise called Mahatma Gandhi Road or MG Road is a street which is viewed as the town focal point of Gangtok. The street and the territory around it has changed throughout the years. It is currently more like a long extend of open shopping center or lane square where local people and visitors take recreation walk or simply sit and unwind on one of the numerous seats laid along the center and both sides of the street to absorb the vibe. The whole range is free of trash, smoke ,vehicle and any other mode of transportation. It's a ""Person on foot"" zone and vehicles are not permitted on this 1 kilometer stretch of the street. In line with government's green activity, all structures on both sides of this street are painted with green colour. The Statue of Unity overlooks MG Marg. The statue includes the figures of Bhutia Chieftain Khye Bumsa, the Lepcha pioneer Thetong Tek and his wife Ngo-Kong-ngol. Shops in MG Marg are open from 8am to 7pm. "
I started my exploration with M.G Road Gangtok. It was similar to all Mall Road in every hill station. But the uniqueness of this place is about its cleanliness,100% litter free zone and cool architecture. Locals say "our Chief Minister has made M.G Road as beautiful as a street in Singapore". Having my dinner at 'Rasoi', I concluded my day's walk and headed back to my hotel.
Gangtok’s nightlifeAs the sun sets behind the mountains happy time come along MG Marg, Gangtok's Social hub. Tapri's, endless variety of juicy momos stalls, lounge bars come alive. What may surprise is the cleanliness around this area, its in fact one of the cleanest cities of the country and is even Spit & Litter free zone and it is really :). Dine, Dance, Drink the night away. Do try the local beers (tongba, chhang) available here in bamboo mugs it would be worth a experience.Finding YourselfGive yourself some time of peace and calmness away from the daily hectic life of cities we live in; Meditate in an ancient Buddhist gompa, visit the many monasteries this place has to offer. Don't forget to light a butter lamp for peace, love and whatever other reason you want to when you visit monastery :P
8) M.G Marg MarketThis a compulsory visit . If you came to Gangtok and never visited this, your tour will remain incomplete. It is the heart of Gangtok. Here you will get everything. It is the most cleanest market in India. It is very clean and in evening it itself a beauty. Very nice to sit in evening. An unforgettable place.You can try some varieties of street foods from here like at The Roll House, Taste of Tibet and much more..
Family trip to Gangtok
5) Ganesh Tok There is a Ganesh temple named as Ganesh tok is at a well decorated place near the Himalayan Zoological Park. Very beautiful temple of Lord Ganesha. Gift shops and a Cafeteria adjacent to it serve some good foods to tourists.
In close vicinity of Gangtok, stands the Enchey Monastery (3 km far from the town focus) on top of a hill. The site on which the monastery stands is accepted to be honored by the renowned tantric master Druptob Karpo. It is said that this loved master, who had flying ability, traveled to this site from Maenam Hill in south Sikkim and manufactured a little hermitage. Later, amid the rule of Sikyong Tulku in the mid nineteenth century, the monastery was built and given the shape of a Chinese Pagoda. The Monastery building is a little and basic two storied structure encircled by tall pine trees. The special highlights of monastery are the wall paintings portraying the protective god and wheel of law on the porch. The three Gods worshipped in this monastery are Buddha, Loki Sharia and Guru Padmasambhava. The yearly celebration of Enchey is praised on the eighteenth to nineteenth day of the twelfth month of the Tibetan timetable which is January.
Enchey Monastery, Gangtok: This monastery is situated in Gangtok on a hill top. It was built during the reign of Thutob Namgyal in 1909. It belongs to the Nyingma order of Vajrayana Buddhism. The literal meaning of Enchey Monastery is the "Solitary Monastery". As, according to a legend, Guru Padmasambhava had subdued the spirits of the Khangchendzonga, Yabdean and Mahākāla here. In view of this legend, the religious significance of Enchey Monastery is deeply ingrained in every household in Gangtok. It is also believed that these powerful deities always fulfil the wishes of the devotees.Detor Cham is the colourful and vibrant Cham dance festival that is held in the monastery during on the 18th and 19th day of the 12th Lunar month of the Tibetan calendar, corresponding to the dates during January/February of the Gregorian calendar.
The couple was really sweet and I had a great time with them. We then parted ways and I headed towards MG Marg to treat myself to a delicious meal. You could find a great number of eating joints here. After lunch, I decided to visit Enchey Monastery. Peaceful yet powerful, this place would make you feel amazing. Afterwards I headed back to my hotel on foot. I had an amazing day and now was the time for some rest.
4) Enchey MonasteryOne of the oldest Monastery , established on 1909 . Very calm and Quiet place to visit.
Baba Harbhajan Singh Memorial Temple
Baba Harbhajan Singh Mandir otherwise called Baba Mandir, located in the middle of Nathula and Jelepla at an elevation of 13,123 ft and around 52kms from Gangtok, it is a recognized touring spot of Sikkim. This mandir is devoted to Harbhajan Singh, who was a trooper of the Indian Army. Two sanctuaries have been manufactured to show adoration to Baba Harbhajan Singh. The old one has been assembled at the dugout's site, where Baba Harbhajan was posted amid his residency in the Indian Army. For the travelers' convenience, the samadhi of Baba Harbhajan Singh has been reconstructed at the intersection of Kupup Gnathang street and the trail leading to Menmecho Lake, on November 11, 1982. This place of worship is famously perceived by touristers all over the country as New Baba Mandir. A round excursion from Gangtok including Tsomgo Lake and Baba Mandir takes about Rs 3,500 by a large reserved vehicle like Sumo or Qualis.
Baba Harbhajan Singh was an Indian Army soldier who died near the Nathu la pass. It is believed that his spirit protects the soldiers in the inhospitable Himalayas and hence a shrine has been erected in his honor. The location is beautiful with snow capped mountains all round and people thronging in huge number to pay respects. It is just a few kilometers off the road on way to Nathu la.
Hotels and Homestays in Gangtok 267 Hotels
Weekend Getaways from Gangtok
115 Kms from Gangtok
Best time to visit - March,April,May,June,October,November,December
One would assume that Thimphu is still settling into its role as the capital of one of the happiest countries in the world, Bhutan. Simple at heart, grappling with growing commercialisation, Thimphu is bustling with energy and is the heart of the country. Thimphu is a delight to explore if history interests you and also if you want a break from the quiet and serenity of Bhutan. Brimming with cafes, nightclubs and restaurants, the city welcomes people from all over the world with open arms. While here, do check out Changangkha Lhakhang, one of the oldest temples in Bhutan, the National Folk Heritage Museum which offers a peek into the life of the Bhutanese people, especially the rural way of life. There are tons of parks, gardens and galleries in and around Thimpu and you cover most of these in a single day depending on your interests. The exhibits here range from archaic to contemporary and are definitely worth taking a look at. Read More
Next day, hail a cab and travel to the capital town, Thimphu. Aim to keeping this cab to get around in Thimphu, as it be a more convenient and cheaper option since cab fares are high there. Moreover, the cab drivers in Bhutan are very gracious and will always indulge in a conversation about His Highness, Bhutan, and Buddhism. Thus, you'll be learning a lot while you're in transit. You can contact Mr. Mangal Singh at +975 17607472 to book for a trip.** (Read Part 2 for Thimphu, Punakha and Haa Valley)Cover Image Credits: http://www.mountainechoes.org/
Day 2: Phuntsholing -> ThimpuWe woke up early on Day 2 and met our guide Sangay who took us for our immigration process. We took around 3 hours at the Department of Immigration to get our permits and then after lunch we were off to Thimpu. There was initially some concern about the weather but the rain wasn't heavy enough to spoil our plans.
Next day morning, we geared up as soon as the 5AM alarm went off to capture the first light hitting Thimphu, Bhutan. A small hike to a nearby monastery with frozen dew all around the place was totally worth it. Sunlight falling on the mountain range behind the Thimphu city was quite a spectacular sight to watch.
Thimphu city is spread out along the side in a north-south heading on the west bank of the valley framed by the Raidāk River, which is known as the Wang Chuu or Thimphu Chuu in Bhutan. It is also the third highest capital in the world in altitude. The ancient capital city of Punakha was replaced by Thimphu when it was established as capital in 1955, and in 1961 Thimphu was declared as the capital of the Kingdom of Bhutan by His Majesty the 3rd Druk Gyalpo Jigme Dorji Wangchuck.
Day 4: The way towards Thimphu started. The first stop to visit was kharbandi gonpa ( the monastery built by Royal Grandmother , Ashi Phuntsho Choedron in 1967). The beautiful and magnificent himalayan ranges were seen to the road which took upto the hills. The Toorsa river had its silent flow irrespective of the aura around. The small town of Chimakothi has its own culture maintaining its individuality. Finally the day or to be more appropriate the year ended with a theme based party in Bhutan.
Welcome to your 'Best of Bhutan tour'! On arrival at the airport in Paro, you will be met and transferred to your hotel in Thimpu, the modern capital city of Bhutan. The rest of the day is at leisure to explore the city. Overnight in Thimphu. (Meals on your own)
Today, after breakfast, proceed for a full day sightseeing of Thimphu visiting places like National Memorial Chorten, Buddha Dordenma Statue, Motithang Takin Preserve, National Library, Folk Heritage Museum and Tashichho Dzong. The large Tibetan-style National Memorial Chorten was built in 1974 to honour the memory of the third King, His Majesty Jigme Dorji Wangchuck (the father of modern Bhutan). This whitewashed chorten, with its golden spires, features elaborate mandalas, statues and a shrine dedicated to the popular third king.
After breakfast, proceed to Thimphu, the capital city of Bhutan. Enroute visit Kharbandi Gompa -The Kharbandi Gompa monastery is located amongst garden of tropical plants and flowers. It was set up in 1967 by the Royal Grandmother, Ashi Phuntsho Choedron. Later, continue your drive to thimphu. Thimphu is a unique city with unusual mixture of modern development alongside ancient traditions. On arrival, check in to your hotel. The rest of the day is at leisure. Overnight in Thimphu. (B)Request A Call Back
After breakfast, proceed on a city tour of Thimpu visiting places like The Jungshi Handmade Paper Factory, National Memorial Chorten and Buddha Dordenma Statue. The Jungshi Handmade Paper Factory was established in 1990 to produce the authentic Bhutanese paper known as Deh-sho using traditional techniques that have been practiced for generations. The factory uses the bark of two tree species, the Daphne and Dhekap in the manufacture of the paper.The large Tibetan-style National Memorial Chorten was built in 1974 to honour the memory of the third King, His Majesty Jigme Dorji Wangchuck (the father of modern Bhutan). This whitewashed chorten, with its golden spires, features elaborate mandalas, statues and a shrine dedicated to the popular third king. The religious paintings and complex tantric statues inside the monument reflect both peaceful and wrathful aspects of Buddhist deities.Made of bronze and gilded in gold, the Buddha Dordenma is a gigantic Shakyamuni statue, the largest Buddha statue in the world at a height of 169 feet. Sitting upon a large meditation hall, there are 125,000 smaller Buddha statues, also cast in bronze and gilded, that have been placed within the main statue. The rest of the day is at leisure to explore the local markets. Overnight in Thimphu (B)You can stay in-
101 Kms from Gangtok
Best time to visit - March,April,May
Bhutan has gradually become a popular tourist destination. And if you are visiting Bhutan, you can't possibly miss the lovely city of Paro. Considered to be one of the most beautiful valleys in Bhutan, it is definitely a must visit! A perfect mix of culture, beauty, nature and history, Paro offers you an experience unlike another. Do visit the unofficial Taktsang Monastery or Tiger's Nest, which is a delight for trekkers and explorers! Located on a hill, the trek to this monastery is something you'll always remember. Do carry water, wear proper shoes before you start your trek lest the number of halts increases your trek time. Another wonderful place to visit is the National Museum of Bhutan which is located in a former watch tower and hosts a collection of artefacts tracing the history of Bhutan. Among other places to visit, Rinpung Dzong and Drakhapo are definitely worth visiting. The Paro market is also a great place to explore and makes for a perfect location for an evening stroll. If you don't want to stay in the city, Paro is where you should head to. The lush valleys here are a delight to explore and the streams and meadows are nothing less than a postcard. Read More
Day 4: On our way to Paro. 2nd important city and in fact only city with airport in Bhutan.. 1.5 hr ride from Thimpu .. 50 kms.Bhutan major attraction - Tiger nest.. Have always been enticed by its wallpaper like pics.. Time to turn imaginations into reality..Taktsang, or the Tiger's Nest Monastery, is one of the most sacred sites in Bhutan. one of the most challenging monasteries to get to. Located at an elevation of over 10,000 feet, Taktsang is the birthplace of Bhutanese Buddhism.
After breakfast, drive till the base of the world famous Taktsang Lhakhang. Taktsang Lhakhang or the Tiger's Nest is the most famous Buddhist pilgrimage site and temple complex in Bhutan. Visible from afar, this stunning and highly revered monastery is perched on a high granite cliff at an altitude of 10,236 ft., overlooking the northern Paro valley. The rest of the day is at leisure for independent activities. Overnight in Paro (B)You can stay at-
After breakfast, visit National Museum, Paro Dzong and Kyichu Lhakhang. The National Museum of Bhutan is housed inside the revamped Ta Dzong, which was formerly a watchtower. It showcases an intriguing collection that illustrates the rich and unique cultural heritage and tradition of Bhutan, including ancient Bhutanese art and artifacts.
This morning, drive to Paro, en route visit Punakha Dzong. Punakha Dzong served as the capital of the country from 1637 to 1907 and the first national assembly was hosted here in 1953. Built in 1637-38, this massive architectural edifice is the second oldest and second largest dzong in Bhutan. In addition to its structural beauty, it is renowned for containing the preserved remains of Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, the unifier of Bhutan as well as a sacred relic known as the Ranjung Karsapani, a self-created image of Avalokiteswara. On arrival, checkin to your hotel. The rest of the day is at leisure to explore the local markets. Overnight in Paro. (B)
Welcome to your 'Bhutan - Himalayan Kingdom' tour! On arrival at the airport in Paro, you will be met and transferred to your hotel in Thimpu, the modern capital City of Bhutan. On arrival, check in to your hotel. The rest of the day is at leisure to explore the city. Overnight in Thimphu. Meals on your own. Enroute Thimpu - 65km, approx 1.5 hour drive.
After breakfast, drive till the base of the world famous Taktsang Lhakhang. Taktsang Lhakhang or the Tiger's Nest is the most famous Buddhist pilgrimage site and temple complex in Bhutan. Visible from afar, this stunning and highly revered monastery is perched on a high granite cliff at an altitude of 10,236 ft., overlooking the northern Paro valley.On the way to town, visit Kyichu Lhakhang. The 7th century Kyichu Lhakhang (temple) is one of the oldest shrines in Bhutan. The temple complex is composed of two temples - the first was built to subdue a giant demoness and the second temple dedicated it to Guru Rinpoche. Overnight in Paro. (B)You can stay in-
After breakfast, drive to Paro, enroute visit Drukgyel Dzong and Paro Dzong. Drugyel Dzong is the best example of a fortified Dzong built in the 17th century to commemorate Bhutanese victory over the combined forces of Tibetan and Mongolian army, which attempted several invasions to the country. Though the fortress was destroyed by fire in 1951, the ruins remain an impressive and imposing sight, reflecting unique and intriguing design and construction techniques. On arrival, check in to your hotel in Paro. Overnight in Paro (B). Distance- 142km, approx 4 hours drive.
244 Kms from Gangtok
Best time to visit - March,April,May,June,July
The twin towns of Malda and English Bazaar make for an unusual holiday destination. Serving as a gateway to Bengal, one usually spots Malda on the way to Siliguri from Kolkata. Malda is a very small city, though the places surrounding it are considered to hold great architectural significance. Some of these destinations are also mentioned by the Archaeological Survey of India, including Gour, Farakka Barage and Jouhra Kali Bari. Gour, the erstwhile capital of Bengal is home to the original footprints of Lord Mohammad and it is very well preserved here. Adina is home to a beautiful mosque and if you have a few hours to spare, this small town deserves a visit. If you are a history buff, Malda will be a pleasure to discover, though you'll have to do a little research before setting out to explore.Read More
When we reached at Malda it was already 12:30 am. We reached Souma's Aunt's place. Had some dinner , get some sleep for about 2:30 hrs. We had slept only 2-3 hrs in the last 24 hrs and traveled more than 300 km by road that was too in uncomfortable conditions.We boarded on the train from Malda at about 6 o'clock. Not that its the best place I have ever visited , but something was special about the Darjeeling trip. There are a lot of things I have learnt from this trip , most importantly -1. Never delay when you need a trip, no matter whatever it takes.2. Unplanned trips are better, but only for off seasons.3. If you want to go for unplanned trips always make sure of two things that you know about the place , and you are physically fit for any type of situation.4. It is hard to go for a unplanned trip that even in budget. But if you are physically fit enough to stay in any type of room, travel in uncomfortable conditions and not allergic to local foods , you can travel anywhere without planning and within budget too.5. Traveling makes you wiser, happier and more fearless - if you trust this you can travel anywhere no matter the hurdles comes in your way.
63 Kms from Gangtok
Best time to visit - January,February,March,April,May,December
Kurseong, located about 30 km from Darjeeling, is for travellers who are looking to get away from the chaos of typical hill stations. With tea gardens as the region's landscape, Kurseong is as charming as it is lively and a perfect weekend destination if you are in West Bengal. There are a number of spots here that promise you an overwhelming view of the enveloping mountains – the most significant being the clear views of the mighty Kanchenjunga. Like any other hill station, Kurseong has its share of lovely touristy spots including Dow Hill, Eagle Craig and various tea estates including Makaibari Tea Estate (which is said to be the oldest tea estate in the region). If you are looking to explore the town completely, it's best to get in touch with some locals and discover hidden gems including trekking sites and birdwatching spots. Read More
89 Kms from Gangtok
Best time to visit - February,March,October,November,December
The city of Jalpaiguri is located in West Bengal on the banks of the Teesta River, at the Himalayan foothills. It is a major trade centre and a transportation hub connecting North Bengal to the rest of India. Jalpaiguri is very strategically located with Bhutan in the north, Bangladesh in the south and Nepal not so far off. Significantly, it is situated in the narrow corridor connecting north-east India to the Indian mainland. Though Jalpaiguri has no popular tourist destinations of its own, it is favourably located from the hill stations of Darjeeling and Gangtok. The Gorumara National Park and Chapramari Wildlife Sanctuary are also in the vicinity. The city of Jalpaiguri is located in an interesting topography criss-crossed by rivers and hills. Even with a mixed population, the place has cultural harmony. Jalpaiguri has an art gallery, town clubs, parks and a few temples. The beautiful Teesta River is a sight and more alluringly the city is surrounded by tea cultivations along the hill slopes in the periphery that make for a picturesque view. Read More
Welcome to your 'Bhutan - Dragon Kingdom' tour! On arrival at the railway station in New Jalpaiguri / airport in Bagdogra, you will be met and transferred to your hotel in Phuentsholing, the border town in southern Bhutan. On arrival, check in to your hotel. The rest of the evening is at leisure for independent activities. Overnight in Phuentsholing. (Meals on your own)You can stay at-
Next morning by 8 a.m., we reached New Jalpeguri and took a rikshaw to hotel Breeze. We went around to the butcher market, vegetable market and bought Sondesh. Finally, we took our flights from Bagdogra back to Bangalore and that’s where one of the most adventurous voyages of my life came to an end.
102 Kms from Gangtok
Best time to visit - March,April,May,September,October
A thriving commercial centre and a gentle mix of various ethnicities, Phuentsholing is a beautiful small town located in southern Bhutan. This is the town where the gorgeous big Bhutan gate is located and also where you can get your visa to visit Bhutan. While you wait for the visa, you can visit the Zangtho Pelri Lhakhang, a small temple representing the heaven of Guru Rinpoche, located at the city centre. This temple houses statues of manifestations of Guru Rinpoche and paintings on Buddha's life and times. The Kharbandi Goemba situated in the city is a charming monastery illustrating the life of the Buddha. From the monastery garden, you can get a fascinating view of Phuentsholing town and its surrounding plains. The local landscape and markets are fun to explore and offer the first peak in Bhutanese life! Phuentsholing has a great food scene as well. Don't forget to try the delicious meat dumplings and the chicken corn soup at the Zen restaurant. Once you are done exploring the quaint towns and completing all government formalities, take a bus or cab forward to visit Paro or Thimphu. Read More
Day 1: Delhi -> Bagdogra -> PhuntsholingWe, a group of seven people had finalized our Bhutan trip in April. As four of us stay in Delhi and three were coming from Kerala, we opted for landing at Bagdogra Airport and then taking a cab provided by our travel agent to cross the border gate and reach Phuntsholing. We reached Phuntsholing in around four hours around 10 PM and instantly the unique and intricate building designs let us know that we have left our country behind. We went to our hotel to sleep, eagerly waiting for our trip to kick start properly the next day.
We got our local visa sorted at the passport office right next to the border and it roughly took an hour and a half. You can only take passes for Thimphu and Paro from this office, for all the other areas, you will have to take passes either from Thimphu or Paro. We took a traveller from Phuentsholing at around 2 pm and reached Thimphu around 8-8.30 in the night where we were welcomed by our amazing host at the pre-booked Airbnb Villa.
Day 3: The zeal was at its par once we reached to New Alipurduar from there we took mini bus to Pheuntsholing- The gateway of Bhutan by road from India.The next spot to explore was Zangtho Pelri Lhakhang: This city centre temple represents the heaven of Guru Rinpoche. Again the chilled evenings waited for the sun to rise with every single day getting close to summer.
Today, after breakfast drive back to Phuentsholing - the gateway to the south and thriving commercial trade centre on the northern edge of the Indian plains. On arrival, check in to your hotel. The rest of the day is at leisure. Overnight in Phuentsholing (B)
We went to Bhutan for a getaway as a small trip and it turned out to be as great as any other place we've been to. We reached the border town of Phuentsholing by train from Guwahati and checked into the Druk Hotel which is one of the good ones in this border town. Getting into this border town doesn't take any special permits or formalities since Bhutan and India are on very friendly terms. We only have cross the border gates and these close after 11pm.
PhuentsholingFollowing a late start, we got slowed down due to bad roads, lot of constructions on the road which slowed our progress. The weather also din't help, and we took a right at alipurduar towards Bhutan. Bad roads and heavy rains again slowed us down and we reached Bhutan past the chaotic traffic on the indian side of the border by 1:30PM.
If the hotel doesn't give you the form, don't panic, you will get at the immigration office. Process takes 1 - 2 hours, because of long queue and slow execution. If you are taking a car on hire or driving your own car ( India registration number), the car and the driver too need the immigration approval. Saturdays and Sundays, office remains closed. So, plan accordingly.Spent the night at Phuentsholing. To go further into Bhutan, we booked a cab for our entire 5 day trip at a total cost of 2800/day.25 October, 2016Started for Thimpu from Phuentsholing at 10. 30 am and reached Thimpu at 3.30 pm.Here, on this route, you actually start witnessing every aspect of the 'Happiest Country of the World'. A drive through beautifully pitch-paved mountain roads, waterfalls on the way, rolling mountains and valleys, small village settlement with a cluster of 50-75 houses, meandering rivers, white fluffy clouds hanging down from a clear azure sky, thin air and a pleasant nip! Bliss.
Phuntsholing :As I was travelling in winter, it was cold. From -4 to 10 degrees, the climate changed. I was OK with that. So in the morning, i gave the place a try. I was accustomed to Bhutan tradition. I came to know the various temples and the people behaviors. Temples or Monasteries are called Dzongs. The thing you note about Bhutan is their Prayer flags. They are tied such that, their customs and tradition be spread along the air. I found a trail which showed me a way to a river called Torsa River.
You can see the difference as soon as you enter the gate. People of Bhutan usually follow dress code. You can even buy those in the market for around 2000 Ng. The roads are clean, People are friendly, It is happy Bhutan after all.As it was late, there were no busses and I had to stay in a hotel there for the night and thought of exploring Phuntsholing first. Remember Bhutan is 15 minutes ahead of us. If you cross the border, the time is different. If you have booked anything, follow BST not IST. If you reach Jaigon at 5:00 pm. It means it is 5:15 pm in Bhutan.
Phuentsholing is the first border town you enter. To win the permit race you have to reach the immigration office well in time. You get a 15 day window in Bhutan, so make the best of it. Taking a Druk-Air flight to Paro is a smoother option if comfort is priority. Passport is not mandatory, any other government authorized document (preferably Voter Id card) will do. Don't forget to carry 2 passport photos for the formalities.Time & MoneyThe currency (Ngultrum) is at par with the Indian Rupee sparing you of all the mental math. Also, Indian notes are accepted everywhere making it more convenient. Time Zone is GMT+6 i.e. half an hour ahead of us, so chances are you will always be running late.Elements of BhutanPeople and Culture