The Land of Gross Domestic Happiness - BHUTAN

16th May 2016
Day 1

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.

The border gate between Bhutan and India

Photo of Phuentsholing, Chhukha, Bhutan by Pratyancha J Goyal

After lunch we set out for the visa formalities. The visa office was being renovated so it took longer than required but once the queue is set, it is a very simple process. We stayed the night in Phuentsholing itself as travelling is avoided during dark as the roads are narrow and the fog can get very thick making it impossible to drive.

If one flies into Bhutan, they will arrive in Paro as it has the international airport.

Day 2

The next day we had planned to leave as early as 9am but the car needed separate permits as well. So anyone heading there please get these things in place for a smooth trip. Nonetheless we got our permits sorted and left for Thimpu. It takes about 5 hours to reach the capital city.

Thimpu even though a small capital has its own charm and there is a vast difference of culture in spite of being a road across India. This Himalayan kingdom has kept its traditions intact and is still ruled by a King. 

After lunch we did some sightseeing like the Kuensel Phodrang (Buddha Point), National Memorial Chorten and the Tashichho Dzong. We also went to the Takin Reserve to see the national animal of Bhutan which is like a goat - antelope and is only found in the Eastern Himalayan Region.

This beautiful statue will soon be in the Seven Wonders List

Photo of Thimphu, Bhutan by Pratyancha J Goyal
Photo of Thimphu, Bhutan by Pratyancha J Goyal

The national animal of Bhutan - Takin

Photo of Thimphu, Bhutan by Pratyancha J Goyal

We had dinner at the Taj Tashi which is a marvellous piece of architecture. There are some flea markets where you can get some cultural stuff of Bhutan.

Day 3

Thimpu has a few more sightseeing spots but since we had a time constraint we headed out for the Dochula Pass. This is 30km from Thimpu. It is a mountain pass on the way from Thimpu to Punakha and consists of 108 memorial chortens or stupas. It is a wonderful sight to look at and on a clear day, one can spot the snow clad peaks from here.

This is a panoramic view of the Dachula Pass

Photo of Paro, Bhutan by Pratyancha J Goyal

We headed off to Paro from here as we needed to do some sightseeing there as well. I personally loved Paro as a city. It welcomes us with a beautiful river view on one side with some spectacular bridges over it.

We visited the Rimpung Dzong. This dzong has some strict clothes restrictions so anyone heading there should carry full sleeves pullovers and full trousers. It is an ancient monastery built quite uphill and still has monks living there. We also visited the Pema Guest House which is a small little shop where you can try on the traditional clothes of Bhutan. You can also try archery there which is a national sport in Bhutan. The girls running this are very helpful and fun. There is also the Drukgyel Dzong that was burnt down. The remnants can be still be seen.

The traditional dress of the Bhutan women - the Kira

Photo of The Land of Gross Domestic Happiness - BHUTAN by Pratyancha J Goyal

Since we'd had a long day we checked into our hotel and called it in early. We stayed at The Raven's Nest Resort which is a beautiful property with a view of the Tiger's Nest. The bigger rooms are very spacious with huge balconies and the best bathrooms i've seen. It was a delight to stay here.

Day 4

Today we started off early since we wanted to do the trek to the Taktsang Monastery which is commonly referred to as the Tigers Nest. The whole of Bhutan is naturally striking but this trek and the height where the monastery is located is enthralling and surprising. The whole place is on an absolute cliff and looks like it might fall off with a single poke and yet there it has been for centuries. The trek is difficult as there is no road at all and also it was drizzling on and off so the path became even more tough. We did the first few kilometres on a horse but the horses only go half way. The last uphill everyone has to do on foot and it is one of the toughest treks i've done. We reached at around 2 pm which is the lunch time there so we had to wait outside till we could finally enter.

The small white dot like structures is the monastery from where the trek begins.

Photo of Paro, Bhutan by Pratyancha J Goyal

And finally, the Taktsang Monastery !

Photo of Paro, Bhutan by Pratyancha J Goyal

The monastery has an interesting history about how it came about and the way downhill is slightly easier though the way could get slippery in a few places. Nonetheless i'm glad we did this and the achievement you feel at having done this trek is unmeasurable.

Day 5

The next morning we headed off for Phuentsholing.

For any avid traveller this country no matter how small should surely be on the to - be - done list. The country has very friendly people and some beautiful architecture. The climate is clean and soothing and you can immediately feel the change of place in spite of it being so close to India.

Bhutan has the kind of air that leaves you feeling super refreshed 

Photo of Paro, Bhutan by Pratyancha J Goyal
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