Our train journey starts from here at about 4 am in the morning, where me and a friend spent an hour or so in the waiting hall of the station for our third travel companion, who was supposed to join us from IIT Kharagpur. We all three friends boarded a local train from Kharagpur to Howrah Railway station at about 5 am and reached Howrah at nearly 9 in the morning. Deprived of sleep right from the time we left Bhubaneswar the day before, we two guys along with the third guy from Kharagpur, checked into a nearby guesthouse to refresh ourselves and have a short nap before boarding the train to New Jalpaiguri from Sealdah station at 2 o'clock in the afternoon. After having a sumptuous lunch near Sealdah station, we boarded Testa-Torsa Express to New Jalpaiguri. We reached New Jalpaiguri early morning the next day, from where we hired a cab to the Indo-Bhutan border. After nearly four hours of drive through gorgeous tea gardens and crossing the Teesta River numerous times, we finally the border town, Jaigaon, on Indian side. We walked over to the Bhutanese town of Phuntsholing through the beautiful Bhutan Gate, carrying our valid Photo IDs such as Indian Passport, Voter ID card and Drivelling License etc.
The first thing first in Phuntsholing-getiing the Permits. After checking into a mediocre hotel located just a couple of metres from the Bhutan Gate, we set off to the nearby Bhutan Immigration Office carrying all valid documents to get our permits. It took only half an hour to have the permit which was for 7 days, starting from 24th Oct., 2011. We had an Indian lunch in a local restaurant run by a Bhutanese, employing waiters from West Bengal town of Jaigaon located just on the other side of the border. As we strolled around the town, we came across colourful praying flags hanging across streets, high on Buddhist temples, monasteries etc. We walked along a road with Amochhu river flowing almost in parallel which after a few kilometres widened further downstream with Himalayan mountains bordering one of the banks and at the other bank, the normal soft soil gave way to the river bed marked by a carpet of round pebbles, and stones. We did some personal photoshoots there and after capturing the natural landscapes in my DSLR, since it was getting dark, we returned to the centre of the town. We saw some Buddhist praying drums being rotated continuously by monks ,devotees, and not the least, by some kids who were finding it more playful rather than any means of praying. One cute girl caught my attention who had put on a small & thin crown on her hairs, which I had to capture and interestingly, the girl too instantly made a pose the moment she realised that she being scanned by a camera - the future beauty queen in making perhaps ! After some light snacks, we headed to the local bus stand which also housed a taxi stand. After some enquiries, we came to know that buses too ply between Phuntsholing to Thimphu from early morning to late evening daily. But it takes 2-3 hours more than a cab. Hence, we decided to book a taxi instead to pick us all from the hotel the next day early morning at 5 am to our next destination, Thimphu, capital city of the Land of Thunder Dragon.
After a 6 hours drive from Phuntsholing in our local cab, passing through numerous valleys, enjoying breathtaking mountaineous landscapes and after devouring South Indian breakfast (idli & sambar) in a roadside military canteen run by Indian Army, we reached Thimphu at about 11 am.
Our guide was a waiting for us in his SUV which was going to take us around for the next 5 days. We were transferred to a semi-luxury tourist hotel on the outskirts of the city (Peaceful Resorts) located in the midst of pine garden. We got ready for the sightseeing soon but not before making some calls to our respective homes which cost us Rs.11/min- international calling rates in 2011 from Bhutan to any city in India on landline. Our Guide, probably not aware of our taste buds, took us to a luxury hotel for a buffet lunch, which we didn't mind on the first day of our trip in Thimphu, so just enjoyed those moments when one of my friends took a plate of meat balls mistaking them to be of lamb, which instead was found to be beef. Thus he had to dispose off the entire plate. We had some red coloured rice, some green salad, cheese-potatoes and pickles etc in lunch and immediately thereafter, headed to a spot in Thimphu considered as the most prominent spiritual structure in all of Bhutan, the National Memorial Chorten, dedicated to the 3rd King of Bhutan, which was opened to public in 1972. We then went to the highest point in Thimphu, the Buddha point where a giant metallic statue of Lord Buddha in meditating pose, has been installed. The infrastructures around it was still under construction. We could have a bird's eye view of most of the part of Thimphu from the Buddha Point, including the National Assembly, the Parliament building of Bhutan which had transformed to a multi-party Democracy (with the first general election held in 2011), from Absolute Monarchy. However, the King was still looked upon with utmost respect and dignity, and was