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61 Kms from Phamtam
Best time to visit - October- April
Often called as the "Queen of all Hill Stations", this is one of the most popular in the whole world. This place is wrap...
I think this one of the most talked about hill stations on every travel list. I am not going to dive into the details and the places you should visit. Moreover, I have already listed my trip to Darjeeling last December in another blog. Here it is!Darjeeling is 70kms or 2 hours away from Siliguri by car. Other transport options include the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway or government and private buses from Tenzing Norgay bus stand.Kanchenjunga at sunrise as seen from Tiger Hill in Darjeeling.The Mall Road, among the most popular spots there, offers a panoramic view of the Himalayas.Breakfast at Keventers with Kanchenjunga behind us.Know more about Darjeeling here.Kalimpong:
The average height of the Singtom Tea estate is about 4500 ft. The resort and the tea factory are both located inside the garden. The tea estate produces some of the finest organic teas of Darjeeling. The quality of the tea depends on the altitude of the place. The more the altitude, the better the quality of the tea. The Singtom Tea Estate, being at a higher altitude produces fine quality of Darjeeling Tea – black, green and white representing different flavours and grades.The Resort and RoomsAs soon as you enter through the gate of the estate, you will see a beautiful, old British styled bungalow in the middle of an equally beautiful garden. The bungalow was originally built in 1862. Wherever your eyes will see, you will see endless stretches of tea gardens. While you sit at the lawn sipping a cup of fresh Darjeeling Tea, you can see the Darjeeling town just in front of you. From the backside, you will get great views of the Kanchenjunga ranges. It is such a place where you will get the natural beauty and the luxury of a planters bungalow in a single place.
Located at a height of 2185 metres above the sea level, Darjeeling, also known as the ‘Queen of Hills’ is a quaint little hill station that consists of Mt. Kanchenjunga’s summit as the backdrop. Established in the mid-19th century, this town offers palatial greenery and a champagne of tea estates. The sumptuous aroma all around and the sound of chanting of the Buddhist mantra give you the much-required peace of mind. We were often told that Darjeeling has been commercialized to such an extent that it has lost its charm. But we would definitely argue the toss, for Darjeeling possesses such opulent landscapes that are a treat for sore eyes.
The tea town of India awaits you with its freshness, unspoilt beauty and ofcourse, the much talked about toy train. Spend quality time with your mother as you both take the joyride humming Kasto mazza hai lelaima and enjoy the scenic vistas. The train takes you for a round trip from Darjeeling to Ghum and back in about 2 hours. Keep your cameras ready as you stop at Batasia Loop on the way, which offers incredible views of the snow-capped Kanchenjunga.
Last but not the least, enjoying Darjeeling is depends upto one as there is almost no scope to enjoy this place . One can even enjoy the view of majestic Kanchenjunga from the room.
Darjeeling--A popular destination for all tourists across the world. Views of Kangchenjunga, ride in toy train, essence of Darjeeling tea, sunrise at tiger hill --altogether gives a nostalgic feel of childhood. Irrespective of being a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Darjeeling almost faved by most of us. This place got featured in many movies in different languages. For example who will not remember the scenes of Satyajit Ray's Film Kanchanjungha. During your visit , you may also unknowingly humming, mere sapno ki rani kab ayegi tu/neele gagn ki tale/Yeh hawayen puchta hai/ala ala matwala barfi.
(Oct 8)Darjeeling was sort of an impromptu plan when in Siliguri I learnt that transport had resumed which was earlier disrupted due to Dokhlam and Gorkhaland issues, the reason my Goechala got cancelled. Anyhow, with a spare half day, I went with it. The bus ride took almost three hours, winding through misty verdant hills, a refreshing sight, eventually coming to a halt at the highest altitude railway station, Ghum (7300ft). Sporadic but intense rain called for some tea. I then paid a visit to “Guru Sakya" and “Yiga Chholing” monasteries; so serene just to be in the sanctity of these places. A monk shared some insights to the recent state affairs, how demands for a separate Gorkha state was creating unrest, etc. Thankfully things have returned to normalcy that made this visit possible. Darjeeling was rather nippy, toy trains and the quaint hills making for a picture postcard. Ethereal views of valley, by the window made lunch all the more satiating. In the evening, I left for New Jalpaiguri to catch my train to Guwahati.
115 Kms from Phamtam
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 wor...
3. Colours of Tshechu: Tshechu is the annual religious festival celebrated in every district of Bhutan. Colourful mask dances and other religious rituals are the main attraction of every Tshechu. The Tshechus are organized in honour of Guru Rimpoche. Every Dzong organizes Tshechu at different times of the year so one can plan the trip accordingly. We planned our trip during Thimphu Tshechu and attended the first day of Thimphu Tsechu. The courtyard of the Thimphu Dzong was packed with both locals and tourists. The locals came dressed in their colourful traditional attires and jewellery and took part in the festival with lots of funfairs. We too enjoyed every moment of this colourful extravaganza.
First thing we did was to submit a copy of our permits and fill a permit entry form for visiting Punakha & Haa Valley at the Immigration office. This is a very quick and easy process. Take photocopy of the permits (stamped at various checkposts) and submit. You’ll get your permit within an hour. You can also collect the same by evening.Places to visit in Thimphu1. National Heritage Museum: This is a good place to learn about Bhutanese heritage. You can see the display of tools used, taste Ara (Rice wine), etc. Entry Fee: Rs. 502. Art & Crafts School: Here you can witness live painting by students of this art school. An interesting place located opposite the heritage museum. Entry Fee: Rs. 100
Thimphu:We took one of those share-taxis amply available in the city to reach Thimphu the next morning. Thimphu is a city like no other. It is a capital with no traffic signals! A capital with only traffic police whistling to control traffic. We were lucky as the time we went in (September end) happened to be during their festive season. Hence we got to see the famous traditional masked dance happening in the Tashichö Dzong.
The one hour ride takes you to Thimphu, the capital city. For visiting the village of Punakha, you have to apply for another permit at the Immigration office in Thimphu, which I did on arrival. Later I hired a taxi to visit Buddha Dordenma, a huge Budha statue on the top of a hill.
DAY 5: THIMPUThere aren’t a lot of places to cover in Thimpu. You will be able to cover all the places in 1 day itself.Incase you plan to go to Punakha or any other places in Bhutan, please apply for a permit in Thimpu. It shouldn’t take more than 30 mins for you to get a permit.
You will have enough time to explore Paro (visit Tiger’s Nest perhaps!) and still reach Thimpu in time, because Paro to Thimpu is a short stretch of nearly 50km, and a smooth highway connecting two cities is moreover the best in the country, thus saving you enough time no matter when you leave.Since Paro has the only international airport in Bhutan, and Thimpu is the capital, the highway moreover stays good in shape throughout the year. It takes one and a half to two hours to travel between the two cities.
Day 3, Nov 3rd, 2017: Our hotel was right opposite to the clock tower which is supposed to be the most happening area of Thimphu. We strolled in the beautiful clean streets of Norzing Lam, which was surrounded by green mountains & pine trees everywhere. The mountains were running parallel to the road & the air was so fresh that you instantly will feel the happiness within you. We were amused to find that at 08:00 hrs no shop is open for breakfast or anything. They have this protocol of everything opening at 09:00, to which they strictly adhere to..Sharp at 09:00, we met Vishnu, our trip guide at the reception of the hotel. His attire, posture, body language everything was very formal & gentle.
The bus dropped us at the taxi stand in Thimphu by 7:30 pm. Our hotel was about 2 kms from the bus stop. While we were bargaining with the taxi driver, someone asked us if we wanted a lift to the hotel. My friend was a bit sceptical as we were new to the place and being from India, it is not easy to trust strangers; but later we agreed to take the lift. While driving us to the hotel, he introduced himself as the Chief Auditing Commissioner of Bhutan. Yes, that was when we realized how helpful Bhutanese people are to their guests. He not only dropped us to the hotel but also helped us plan places we should be visiting the next day.
102 Kms from Phamtam
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 l...
1. Trek to the Takstang Monastery: Takstang monastery or the Tiger’s Nest is the most iconic monument of Bhutan. So a trip to Bhutan, without visiting this sacred monastery will be incomplete. Located outside the Paro town this monastery can only be reached on foot. Although the two hours (or maybe more) trek to reach the top may sound difficult for many, but it is worth the effort. Just like the exteriors even the interior sections of this monastery are also magnificent. Our guide explained the importance of all the sections and also shared some of the beliefs associated with the monastery. It is incredible, how the monks build such a massive structure on such a high cliff of a mountain.
Paro:This is where you land if you fly into the country. This beautiful little city located 2 hours away from the capital city is right next to the river, the Paro chu. As we reached by midnight the first thing we saw there was the Dzong beautifully lit in all its beauty.
Paro Tsechu Festival : Paro Dzong also houses “Paro Tsechu” the annual paro festival during the month of March/April. So, when we reached there, the area was swarming in vibrant colours and happy people. Unfortunately, we got a bit delayed after an exhilarating hike to tiger’s nest that we missed witnessing the mask dance performance. But, we did manage to see some other traditional dance performances.
DAY 4 : PAROTaktshang Monastery/Tiger’s Nest : The most photographed place in Bhutan. It clings to a cliff which is 3120 meters above the sea level. Legends says that Guru Rinpoche, father of Bhutanese Buddhism arrived here million years ago on the back of a tigress and meditated at this place
Day 3: The plan was to cover Paro, Thimpu and Punakha, in order. But rarely things go as per the plan. For eg: We had planned to reach Paro by noon, see a couple of places and do Tiger’s nest the next day. But, the immigration formalities took longer than expected, we ended up reaching Paro by evening, leaving us just 1 day to cover Paro including the tiring hike to Tiger’s nest. First because we landed on a weekend and wasting a day for the permit, second the never ending wait for the permit. Sigh!Okay! Coming to actually how day 3 went was as follows. We reached the immigration office at sharp 8.30 am, but there were already a so many people waiting before us. But, that didn’t really make a difference because as soon as they opened the shutter at 9 am, everyone just rushed in. It’s a huge mess inside, completely unorganised, people are clueless what’s the procedure and just chaos. The permit would have taken just an hour, if not for the uncivilized mad rush, it took us almost 4 hours. By the time, we got the permit it was 12.30 pm.Without wasting much time, we immediately called our driver and headed straight for Paro. The drive from Phuetsoling to Paro is beyond beautiful. As we moved further away from the border, the landscape became divine and air deeply serene. On the drive, the river flowed gently by the road overlooking rugged mountains. You will encounter small waterfalls and fresh streams of water on the way.
The journey to Paro to Phuentsholing takes nearly 4 hour if you’re driving, or 6 hours if you’re taking a public bus. The journey is rather impressive and enjoyable. From the sea level of Phuentsholing you only pretty much go uphill throughout the journey before you end up a much colder town of Paro located at 2100+ meter altitude above the sea level.The well maintained four way highway, built by Indian Border Road Organisation (BRO), moreover makes Phuentsholing to Paro & Thimpu a very sought after Himalayan Roads for motorbikers in India wanting to ride in Bhutan.Day 2: Paro To Thimpu
Paro to tiger’s nest (40 kilometers ride and 4-5 kilometers trek)The last time I had visited Takstang Monastery, also known as The Tiger’s Nest, I was mesmerized by it and I wanted Swatabdi to witness the same. We first rode to the Drugyel Dzong which is a monastery which was burnt in a fire and now lay in ruins. We then proceeded to the base of the trek to the Tiger’s nest. The difficulty level of the trek to Tiger’s nest is slightly higher because of the altitude and the steep trail. Huffing and puffing we kept walking one step at a time. Swatabdi felt like quitting the trek a couple of times but I etched her on. The sight of the monastery which kept getting bigger and bigger was also inspiring. After almost 4 hours we saw the awe-inspiring view of the monastery. I fail to fathom the effort taken to build this monastery so high in the mountain. The monastery seems as though it is almost hanging on a cliff and can fall down to the deep valley below any moment! The trek was worth the effort. The trek downhill was slightly easier and we reached the base late in the evening. The rest of the evening we spent riding around in Paro and watching the beautiful Paro Dzong and the national museum which were lit up with vibrant lights in the night. We had hired the motorcycle for 16 days which meant that this was the last day of our trip. We celebrated the last 15 days over my favorite beer, the Druk 11000; and a plate of delicious momos.
Jaigaon to Paro (180 kilometers)The embassy at Phuntsholing opens at 10 AM and we reached there at 9:45 hoping to be among the first people to get the permits. We were proven terribly wrong when we saw that there about a thousand people already waiting. The situation was similar to a Durga Puja pandal in Kolkata. There was utter chaos. No one knew what to do or whom to approach for the permits. What made it worse was that there were agents who were standing in the queue with dozens of applications in their hands. For hours we stood in various queues which didn’t move an inch. There was a lot of pushing, shoving and shouting happening which pissed off Swatabdi. She went inside the embassy and somehow caught hold of an influential female officer and explained to her our situation rather sternly. In no time a new counter was opened for female applicants who were not in large groups and we managed to get our permits from that counter. By this time it was late evening and we rushed to the RTO office to get the permit for our motorcycle. There was a queue of drivers waiting for us and the office hours were coming to a close. Swatabdi again used the feminine card and we got preferential treatment and our permit was among the last to get approved that evening. Thousands had applied to visit Bhutan that day; only a lucky few were allowed to enter. While coming back from the RTO office I cut my toenail with the sharp side stand of the motorcycle and started our ride to Paro with a shoe on one leg and a bandaged toe in a flipflop on the other. We started for Paro with dying sunlight and braced ourselves for a cold ride. There was a brief spell of rain which made it worse. An hour into the ride my foot went numb. I somehow shoved my bandaged foot inside my shoe and continued riding. Thankfully the roads in Bhutan are good which made it easier to ride in the night. The cold though was still unforgiving. We reached Paro at 8:30 in the night and found most hotels to be either closed or fully occupied. Shivering and shaking we moved from one hotel to the other in search of a room. At a certain hotel Paro, the owner of the hotel took pity on our shivering souls and offered us a place to stay in the roof attic where the employees sleep. We took it! With temperatures dipping below zero and the roof attic becoming really cold, we tugged ourselves in the quilt, hugged each other tight and slept. It was a truly long day!
The morning drive from Thimphu to Paro was exciting. Paro is a very small town compared to Thimphu. Thimphu has ATMs but I found few in Paro. Once reached, I set out for Chelela Pass. Clouds were floating by and freezing wind was blowing. In the midst, prayer flags were fluttering as if they were protectors of this remote and mythical land.
74 Kms from Phamtam
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 h...
You will probably cross Kurseong on the way to Darjeeling. It is impossible to miss with its immense TV Tower jutting into the sky - a giant among the small buildings in town.Stopover at Giddha Pahar and catch the sunrise or the sunsets! The area is seeing a lot of development and people are opening up homestays at every bend. Spend a day here walking uphill to Dowhill Park or Eagle's Crag.Know more about Kurseong here.Sandakphu:
Serenity and beautiful vistas come together at Bagora. Situated at a height of 2339 metres above the sea level, this little village is a soothing refuge from the frenzy of the city life. If you are searching for a relaxing weekend during the year-end, you can easily give Darjeeling and Kurseong a miss and visit this picturesque hamlet that still remains unspoiled from the demands of tourism.Bagora is nestled between pines and conifers along with the rhododendron trees. The Kanchenjunga ranges appear with her mighty glory from this serene hamlet; and the views are quite rewarding. Bagora also has a few short hiking trails through the jungles that are quite unexplored. Bagora is also known as the Zero Point as the core area of the Kurseong Air Force Base is a few minutes walk from the market area. You will enjoy a view of the vast expanse of the Teesta valley from this area.
5. The Land of White Orchid, Kurseong. You can reach for the Clouds here.
257 Kms from Phamtam
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 ...
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.
110 Kms from Phamtam
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...
Bhutan is barely 15kms from Hasimara. When you are done trekking through the forests and sipping lazy cups of tea in the Dooars, head over to Jaigaon and spend a day in Phuentsholing, the Bhutanese border town.Entry into Phuentsholing is free and without interruption. You can try one of the popular local bakeries or restaurants there, and splurge on some Thai goods sold in abundance in the shops that line the main market.Don't forget to get some local peach wine on your way back!Know more about Phuentsholing here.Epilogue:So, this was just a rough guide to give you a sense of the place. If you need any help visiting these places, read up and research thoroughly. I will be glad to send links and give travel tips as well.However, please do keep in mind that I do not organise trips of my own. I mainly travel solo but will be glad to have company at times during my trips. Give me a hola whenever you are in the Northeast or North Bengal.
Bhutan Permit: Getting a Bhutan permit is quite easy provided you have all the relevant documents. The immigration office is just a couple of minutes walk from the Bhutan entry gate and opens at 9 AM. You need the following documents:1. Entry Permit form – Fill in the basic details2. Passport / Voter ID (Mandatory) photocopy3. 1 Photo4. Itinerary of your trip5. Hotel Booking confirmation (For Thimphu / Paro)6. In case of no Passport / Voter ID, you need to carry original PAN / Aadhar / Driving License (Atleast 2 IDs are compulsory). Visit the Indian Embassy & submit the documents and pay a Army Welfare fund fee of Rs. 135 and get your documents verified by an official.Process for Bhutan Permit:Get all the documents in order and submit the same at the counter outside. Solo travelers face an issue generally in getting permit. Once the documents are verified by the 1st counter officer, you need to hang around for your name to be called.Once they call your name, get to the 1st floor office where the immigration officer will take fingerprint scan & photo. He may ask basic details like is this your first visit etc. Then, he will direct you to another counter to submit the form. After a while, they’ll call out your name for collecting the permit.The entire process was completed within 1.5 hours with zero charges. The permit is applicable only for visit to Thimphu / Paro and valid for 7 days. You need to get it extended / get another permit for restricted areas like Punakha / Haa Valley at Thimphu Immigration office.Tips: Get your documents ready beforehand and submit by 9AM so that you can complete the formalities and proceed to Thimphu or Paro on time.Indian currency of is accepted all over Bhutan. Bhutanese currency (Ngultrum) has equal value to Indian Rupee. 1 INR = 1 NGULTRUM. Carry more of Rs. 100 notes as some places do not accept Rs.500 and Rs. 2000 currency. We carried Rs. 10k per person and was enough for the trip.Vehicle for Trip:You can get a taxi from the taxi stand for your entire tour. It is advisable to have your own vehicle for the entire trip as public transport is scarce and local cabs may turn out to be expensive. We hired a Bolero car for 7 days at a cost of Rs. 2,900 per day. You need to bargain and get the best rate possible. A small car like Wagon R will charge at least Rs. 2,300 – 2,500 per day.We started off for Thimphu at around 1 PM. Thimphu is 170 kms and road passes through mountain terrain. It takes 5 – 6 hours to reach your destination. We stopped at a place called Chukha for evening snacks (Momos, Chowmein, Tea).We reached Thimphu at 7 PM and made our reservations at Hotel Ghasel (Booking.com) for a two night stay. It is a budget hotel located opposite clock tower which is near the main shopping area. The hotel was decent for Rs. 1,500 a night. The owner Dorji is pretty helpful. It has a vegetarian restaurant which serves good Indian food. You need to order your food and wait for at least half hour before it is served. This is the norm all over Bhutan as they start preparing from scratch.Day 3: Thimphu Sightseeing
Though Bhutan and India have multiple border crossings, the most convenient and common among all is from the border of Jaigao-Phuentsholing -- where Jaigao is the last Indian town and from Pheutsholing the Bhutanese territory starts. Opened Monday-Friday from 9-5, it is in the immigration office of Phuentsholing where nearly all border accessing applications for tourists arrive. Provide a photo ID and you get the permission in a couple of hours, depending upon how long is the queue.To get a permit for your motrobike you need toIf you manage to get the permission before 2 pm, it is well worth using the same day and travelling to Paro. Those not hurrying can even consider staying for the first night in Phuentsholing, which has enough to offer to a tourist. But for those short with time, a 4 hour journey to Paro (from Phuentsholing) can be easily made the same day they applied for a tourist permit.To enter in Phuentsholing, you need not have a tourist permit with you. Even an Indian number plate vehicle can pass through with no problem. But as soon as you exit Phuentsholing, towards Thimpu or Paro, there’s an immigration checkpoint that asks for a valid tourist permit.
Day 2, Nov 2nd, 2017: Next day morning woke up to find a faded white streak of the Kanchenjunga range as the train was approaching NJP station. I had figured out that the train was already running 2.5 hours late. A spur of nervousness aroused within thinking about the permit timings, but as the train was traversing across the dense forest range of Sevoke, the turquoise blue Teestha River & the green carpet of the tea gardens of Sukna, I took a deep breathe, decided to calm down & enjoy the moments for now.At around 14:00 hrs, after a delay of almost 4 hours, we finally reached Hasimara, which is the nearest railway station from Bhutan border. Boarded a cab, for 400 bucks & reached Phuentsholing at around 14:30 hrs.At 15:00 hours Karan who was appointed by Tashi to help us with our permit processes approached us & we rushed to the immigration office to get our permits done. I was almost shattered to find there that the person who was in charge of collection of the documents was kind of rude & was rejecting every requests made before us since it was closing time for them, but I do not know what Karan spoke in Bhutanese with the guy, that he chose to grant our permits. Mine was the last permit which was granted for the day.Karan dropped us to the bus station. At 16:00 hrs the bus started for Thimphu and as soon as we crossed Phuentsholing, we could feel the fresh air of Bhutan. I kept watching the glorifying setting sun, playing hide & seek in the range of mountains we were crossing. I kept gazing at the moon & had become nostalgic over the fact that we don’t usually see such bright moonlight these days. I had gone back to my childhood.The bus halted at Karma hotel at around 19:30 hours where I had Suja (Butter tea) for the 1st time & I must say it’s a must try. We hogged rice, dal & Bhutanese pork curry and started for Thimphu again.At around 22:00 hrs Bhutanese time, we reached Thimphu & Tashi had already send his person Jimmy to pick us up from the bus station. It was cold as hell & as soon as we reached the hotel, Norkel Chopyel, the 1st thing I saw was the bed & I passed out.
Day 7, Nov 7th, 2017: This time Tashi came himself to pick us up at 06:00 hrs to drop us to the bus station. I could not thank him enough for the wonderful stay & trip management he coordinated. We bid farewell to Thimphu & Tashi with loads of memories to cherish before we started off our return journey.I was eager to walk in to my country & have some Bengali food for lunch. We had “Mach Bhaat” at Jaigaon & my appetite was completely satisfied to finally have ghar ka khaana after a long time. This time as we had a lot of time in hand, we chose to go in an auto to Hasimara station instead of a cab which costed us around 200 bucks. Our train was bang on time & we boarded for Kolkata. After dinner, as I was trying to sleep, Bhutan & its beauty kept on hovering in my mind & I knew that this hangover had to be there for few days.
We got up early the next day and visited the city bus stop at 7am to get our tickets reserved for Thimphu. They operate 18 seater comfortable buses with no standing passengers. We bought 2 tickets for Rs.245 each to Thimphu for the 2pm bus and planned to get our permits and do some sight seeing in Phuentsholing by then. Private cabs charge about Rs. 3000 and share cabs about Rs. 750 per head for the same route.
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.
111 Kms from Phamtam
Best time to visit - March,April,May
Lying on the India-Bhutan border, Jaigaon is not a tourist place, but is frequented by tourists on their way to Bhutan. ...
Since we reached on a Sunday evening, there was nothing much to do. We stayed in Hotel Peljoring right opposite the Bhutan border gate. For dinner, we just walked to the Jaigaon (Indian side) and had dinner at Royal Annapurrna. Post dinner, we walked upto the Taxi Stand and hired a cab for 5 days. Since, we were just 2 people, we hired a Wagon R for the cost of 11500 for 5 days.
Gangtok to Jaigaon (230 Kilometers)Sikkim has given us valuable life lessons every time we visited. This time Sikkim gave us a lesson in destiny. Swatabdi had forgotten her scarf at one of the shops the previous evening. We were all set to start for Jaigaon but Swatabdi insisted on going to the shop again to get the scarf. We were walking towards the shop when I saw a familiar face sipping tea on the roadside. The familiar face was that of one of my inspirations in life; and with childlike excitement I just asked him, “Biru?” The Bhutanese embassy being closed on weekend, we finding a good hotel deal in Gangtok, Swatabdi forgetting her scarf and both of us taking a walk to get back the scarf at the precise moment when Biru was having tea, it all fell into place! The cosmic forces in the universe had inclined together to make us meet Rohit Upadhayay on the road! The fanboy in me started jumping around. We didn’t find the scarf but we got the privilege of spending some quality time listening to stories of Biru’s Eurotrip adventures. Our day was made. That night we dreamt of doing a roadtrip to Europe together.
Shillong to Jaigaon (480 kilometers)We bid adieu to the land of clouds and started our journey to the land of the thunder dragon! Our onward journey from Jorabat to Shillong was in pitch dark and we only realized the beauty of the road when we rode on it this morning. The road condition was excellent with gentle turns and amazing views, it was a dream downhill ride for any biker. We briefly stopped at the Umiam Lake to admire the huge lake. It took us some time to cross the traffic at Guwahati and once we did that it was a speedy ride on the plains with the tea gardens accompanying us on both sides. We kept munching hundreds of kilometers and reached the border town of Jaigaon-Phuntsholing. We checked into a hotel and that is where disaster struck! We were aware that the embassy in Phuntsholing would remain closed on weekends however it completely skipped out of our mind and we found ourselves in Jaigaon on a Friday evening. The excitement of riding international now turned into a disappointment. We were now looking at spending Christmas Eve in the sleepy and boring town of Jaigaon.
We boarded our train from Ahmedabad, yes you read it right. We started on a 52-hour journey from Ahmedabad to New Cooch Behar (Somewhere in West Bengal). The train got delayed, obviously while crossing UP and Bihar, and we reached our destination 16 hours late. Yes, we were in that train for 68 hours. After reaching Cooch Behar, we found a hotel to stay overnight and left for Phuentsholing the next morning. Jaigaon is the last town before we crossed the border and reached the beautiful country of Bhutan. The difference in the two sides, though just divided by a large gate, was clear and there were no honks, roads were clean, drivers were obeying traffic rules and you could sense the calm surroundings.
-The grilled wall running between the two villages is the Indo-Bhutan border.The friendship of the two countries is directly exhibited by the smooth traffic flow through the Bhutan Gate near Jaigaon. The Royal Kingdom Of Bhutan welcomes the Non- Bhutanese visitors with a stamp on their passports.
Gangtok to Thimphu via Phuentsholing Following the only plan we had, we took a shared cab from Gangtok and after crossing through a numerous tea garden on the route, we reached Jaigaon. Jaigaon is as 'India' as it can get. Excuse the adjective but what I mean is crowd, of thousands, traffic for over a kilometre and vendors on the streets, chilling like everything is just fine. And I'm too habitual to detest any of it.
As Bhutan immigration office was closed, I had to stay back at border town of Jaigaon. It is small place and mostly people who have come to visit Bhutan and are taking a day off for rest post their long journey stay there apart from locals. Interesting thing about this place is that they except Bhutanese currency. I suggest you take a Bhutan sim because if you have automatic network selected on your phone and get in Bhutan network you will be charged heavy roaming. I took Tashi sim. They have tourist sims of 1 month validity. Get it from their Phuentsholing office. Internet is really good throughout Bhutan on Tashi Network even at Tiger's Nest trail in Paro :D.Eat- Momos, Chowmein.
79 Kms from Phamtam
Best time to visit - March,April,May,September,October,November
Mirik is a beautiful, laidback town, about 40 km from Darjeeling, popular for its scenic beauty and quiet surroundings. ...
6. Visit Mirik:Mirik is only 8 km from Tabakoshi. You can take a tour to Mirik. On the way to Mirik, there is a view point. Stop there to have a look at the vast expanse of the tea gardens and the surrounding hills. This is definitely a treat to watch.
My Driver asked me, Madam, Would you like to see 'Mirik' ?Mirik, it still reminds me of my decision which I took without giving a second thought while going to the Darjeeling. The name sounds to me very unique and I said Yes ! Why not. I still remember the wonderful scenic drive through tea gardens on hill slope. As we started the uphill journey, I felt as if I was rising above the earth, rising above the clouds. All I can see was white snow with mist in the air. On the way, I saw a lot of orange orchades and passed by the famous tea estate of Goodricke.It was altogether a nostalgic view . I reached Mirik around 5:00 pm in the evening. Mirik is a small and sleepy hill town nestled in the serene hills of Darjeeling district in West Bengal, India. I had a very deep query about the term M.I.R.I.K since I was so fascinated with this name. Mirik comes from Lepcha words Mir-Yok meaning ;place burnt by fire. Mirik central attraction is its 1 km long lovely lake surrounded by Dhupi trees on one side and garden on the other side. The garden area has a playground where the British officers played polo during British Era in India. I still remember the Sumendu Lake surrounded by a garden and pine trees which was linked together by an arching footbridge called Indreni Pull. I sat down for sometime along the bank of the lake and relaxed with closed eyes then I crossed over the arching footbridge and crossover to the other side of the lake walked through the dhupi forest. I reached to the top of the monastery known as Bokar Monastery and which is famous as a Buddhist meditation center. Top of the monastery had a Tingling view point, a panoramic view of the the tea gardens.My driver suggested me that if I would have started early, I could have a reach a beautiful pace called Jorpokhri. This tiny place on a hill top has twin lakes, surrounded by forest and offers magnificent views of Kanchenjunga.After this 2 hours of visit, all I can say is that 'Mirik' ! you took my heart away