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161 Kms from Thimphu
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...
The Journey:We started our journey to Darjeeling on June 11th 2018 from the Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose airport to Bagdogra. It took us a hour and a half to reach Bagdogra. From there we were picked by our Car (an Innova) which we pre-booked at the cost of Round 4000. One can also opt for a shared taxi from the airport to Darjeeling on a much cheaper rate. A small vehicle like sedan or hatchback may charge up to 3000 depending upon the season.There are several roads to reach Darjeeling, the one we headed took us three and a half hours to reach the city. However, the journey gave us some stunning views of the roadside and the cloud caped mountains.
Darjeeling also known as the 'Queen of hills'...It's a travellers blissful escape and honeymooners dream destination. This beautiful hill station is alluring it's visitors through the breathtaking panoramas that are captivating in every way. Darjeeling stands as the most visited hill stations of India all around the year. Surrounded by the snow capped Himalayas and lush green Tea gardens, it is definitely a paradise on earth.It seemed like a perfect place to escape the heat and spend some days gazing at the beautiful mountains and clouds for me, and thus our trip to Darjeeling was planned. Normally, I plan my trips after a thorough research and at least two/three months prior to my visit. But in this case it was a sudden trip, as Kolkata was becoming unbearable with a temperature rising up to 38/40 degrees.We were a group of six adults with a toddler, we booked our flights and packed our bags to explore the queen of hills, or should I say to escape the heat of kolkata. As we reached the airport I realised that the people of kolkata has a craze for Darjeeling, why not it is a place to die for with a maximum temperature of 25 degrees and a minimum of 18 to 12 degrees (At night).
Day 8, This day was dedicated for the local Darjeeling sight seeing, I avoided the tiger hill as it was difficult to wake upin the morning. You can book a local cab for the Darjeeling sight seeing including Peace Pagoda, Tea garden, Tenjing rock etc.
Today, we wake up to the alarm at 3.00 AM. Got ready in a jiffy, and by 3.30 AM was on our way to the Police Chowk taxi stand near Gandhi Road.Yes, we were to visit the Tiger Hill to have THE inexplicable view of the sunrise over the Kanchenjungha peak (or as we thought ...).We got inside a shared Tata Sumo (Rs 200/- per head) to set for Tiger Hill. We came to know that our car would halt at two other locations while returning back from Tiger Hill. These were - Batasia Loop and Dali Monastery. Though we visited both the places earlier - to me, visiting such beauties twice was a bonus for us.Our car started for Tiger Hill at 4.00 AM. The road to Tiger Hill is an adventurous one - with numerous bends and very steep slopes. Also in the pitch dark we were able to see only as far as the headlight of our car reached. But...the weather turned bad as we approached Tiger Hill. Soon it started raining. With black clouds hovering in front us, sighting of Kanchenjungha was a distant dream - let alone the sunlit Himalyan peaks.
The weather in Darjeeling remained cloudy next day too, as we had been experiencing for the last 2 days. However we were excited about our upcoming activities that day. Firstly, the Joyride in a steam engine-hauled train of Darjeeling Himalayan Railway (DHR) - popularly called as the toy train and secondly, mountain biking.At about 8: 15 in the morning, we started for Darjeeling railway station. It was around 20 minutes walk from our hotel. We chose to ride on a first class compartment in the steam engine hauled train which cost us around Rs 1300/- per head. The train started from Darjeeling at 9:40 a.m. At once we were greeted by loud and very shrill honking of the engine. The train really had fascinating interiors, though our focus was on the scenes outside - as we crisscrossed through busy streets of Darjeeling town.Note that, if you expect mind boggling mountain views or traveling through numerous tunnels or bridges in this DHR Joyride, you would be disheartened. This ride is very different. Here we found joy observing the daily life of the local people. Little children going to school, people queuing up for Pujas in temple high up in the hills, morning chit-chat among the shopkeepers and customers, the beautiful architecture of the houses or the wild flowers along the walls of the street.
The next day post-breakfast (had some snacks we stocked earlier) we started early around 8.00 am for our customized half day tour. We reserved a private taxi (Hyundai Santro) for Rs2500/- from the nearby Clubside Taxi Stand and began our journey. Our driver-cum-guide for the day - Mr. Som was very polite and cooperative throughout. You can reach him at 9083355721.The weather was not sunny; in fact it started drizzling shortly after. Though rain was short-lived, the weather remained gloomy throughout that day.
It took us around 4 hrs (with one halt mid-way at a humble eatery) to reach Darjeeling. We got down at the Gandhi Road Police point near the Clubside taxi stand. This is one of the two taxi stands in Darjeeling, the other being the Chauk Bazar taxi stand.From here (Clubside taxi stand), we walked about 7-8 min, crossing the famous Darjeeling Mall and reached Bhanu Bhawan. Then walking slight uphill with the view of St. Anthony's Church on the right, and Darjeeling Gymkhana Club on the left - we reached our hotel, ie Darjeeling Tourist Lodge (DTL) run by West Bengal Tourist Development corporation (WBTDC).Situated in a quaint location, near the ancient but gracious St. Andrews Church, DTL is perfect for budget travelers who want to spend their vacation away from the dins and bustles of the town centre. Our rooms in the annex building was large and tidy with basic amenities.It cost us around Rs1600/- plus tax (note, rate may vary with season) per night - and I do believe it was a fair deal. The chance to view the snow-clad peak of Kanchenjungha from DTL's rear garden was icing on the cake.
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:
292 Kms from Thimphu
We chose to arrive in Lhasa by travelling on the world’s highest railway, a journey of breath-taking beauty that lasts...
We chose to arrive in Lhasa by travelling on the world’s highest railway, a journey of breath-taking beauty that lasts 24 hours from the Chinese city of Xining, and crosses the Tanggula Passat 5072m. Arriving late at night, we were greeted by our guide in Lhasa with khatags, the white silk ceremonial scarf that is commonly given in Tibet as a sign of welcome. This was the first of many khatags we received. Lhasa literally means 'The abode of the gods'.
The land of the abominable snowman,they call it.Our first major destination in Lhasa was the Potala Palace.The entire site was as clean as it was touristy. We were limited to a visit of only 1 hour due to the integrity of the structure (it could risk collapse from the weight of too many visitors) but all in all it was absolutely gorgeous. The temples were just breathtaking and I enjoyed watching the monks walking from room to room continuing their daily tasks all the while examining the hundreds of different rooms, shrines and statues.After taking in the Potala Palace, we were set free to enjoy Johkang Temple and the surrounding vicinity that’s known as the Backhor Streets. It was quite interesting to see the layers of culture in such a small place. Lhasa was a much larger city than I had anticipated. Shops and stalls lined every corner and were filled to the brim with Tibetan prayer beads, necklaces, singing bowls, yak blankets and many other ornaments. Tibetan & Chinese restaurants filled the streets with an almost intoxicating smell of yak meat, bread & other cultural foods.We then explored both the Drepung Monastery & Sera Monastery. The Drepung Monastery, which happened to be the Dalai Lama’s old winter residence (up until the 5th Dalai Lama moved it to the Potala Palace), happened to house the largest amounts of monks in Tibet. We were very lucky to arrive just as many of them were gathered for their afternoon lunch and meditation sessions. The energy that protruded from them was nothing short of intense!Later, we passed through Gangbala Pass with a quick pit stop at Yamdrok Lake where we took some very scenic pictures of turquoise blue waters that were overlooked by snow-peaked mountains.
115 Kms from Thimphu
Best time to visit - September to December
Gangtok is the capital city of the north Indian state of Sikkim. Built up as a Buddhist journey site in the 1840s, the c...
Gangtok, a haven tucked away in north-east India is a quaint little town that exemplifies Buddhist culture and at the same time, provides breathtaking views that are characteristic only of the north-east. While most travellers only spend a night here, treating it as a mere base to get higher up Sikkim’s mountain ranges, there’s actually a lot that Gangtok has to offer. Here’s how you can spend a power-packed day in Sikkim’s capital, Gangtok.
Exploring GangtokSpend this day for Gangtok Sightseeing. There are 3 points, 5 points, 7 points and Mixed points tours available. Since you have the whole day in hand, it is better to opt for a mixed point tour. You will visit the Tashi View Point from where you would get a breathtaking view of the Kanchenjunga range. You will also visit the Hanuman Tok, Ganesh Tok, Bakthang Waterfall and Enchey Monastery, one of the oldest monasteries of Sikkim. The mixed point tour also offers you to visit either the Rumtek Monastery or the Ranka Monastery. I would suggest you to visit the Rumtek Monastery.
My Name Is Helix . Iam Just 20 years old . Me and My Friend Amal Decided To go Sikkim on this vaction . He is two year younger than me we are traveling from Kerala Thrissur . Our greatest fear to Travel north east was we don't know hindi well And iam not good in english too . So we planned to travel gangtok and from there to North sikkim And South . We didn't See Snow Before And our wish became true we stayed gangtok for Sevendays in gangtok and the expense is jst blw 10k and covered North sikkim and South Sikkim By traveling in local transport and Eating Local food And Explored Beauty of sikkim
After you arrive at Gangtok, roam around the quaint capital city of Sikkim. Gangtok is situated at a height of 5410 feet in east Sikkim and is mainly inhabited by the Lepchas, Bhutias and Nepalese. Stroll around the M. G. Marg and you will feel that you are not in India! Sikkim is a clean state and they do take their cleanliness seriously. So littering the beautiful boulevard is a big no. As the sun sets, the M G Marg becomes more beautiful with all the light and sound.And while you are roaming around the city, don’t forget to give your ID proofs and photographs to the travel agent so that they can get your permits for the next days.
Do Drul Chorten, Gangtok This huge Buddhist complex is located near the research institute of Tibetology. This beautiful structure is Biggest Buddhist stupa in the North East India.
GangTok:In morning at Jalpaiguri we had booked a package with a travel agent located nearby to railway station.
Gangtok is bustling town and capital of Sikkim. It is one the cleanest cities you would come across in India. This place would give you a mix of city vibes and mountain innocence. Gives a perfect view of Himalayan range. There are many places nearby which you can explore as well like, Yumthang, Lachung, Baba Mandir, Zuluk, Tsomgo / Changu Lake and Rishikola.How to reach:Same as North Bengal. From Kolkata you have overnight trains to New Jalpaiguri .From Jalpaiguri you have options of taking shared cabs or book a personal cab to any of the above mentioned places.
250 Kms from Thimphu
Best time to visit - March,April,May,June,July,August,September,October
Tawang has always been in the midst of conflict and controversy. But if you look beyond the controversy, you'll discover...
It was morning rains that decreased the temperature below 8 in Tawang.I was undecided about what next. The previous day had talked with the taxi driver about Zemithang ,8000 to and fro with an eve stay so it was a out of budget.My group had left for the early bus to Bomdila and I was checking the weather forecast of the places around and it was rains everywhere. Then i decided i take an off day with just a walk in the town after 4 days being on the move and slept again.I woke up around 9 and then got ready , had breakfast and then walked upto the Tawang Monastery which is the second largest monastery in the world.I was treated with awesome views of The giant Buddha that towers over the town as well as the beautiful monastery during my walk.
We reached Tawang at around 2:30 pm and then start deciding for the next day trip up to Bum La Pass.2 of us were involved in formalities to get id proofs and ILP copies. Apart from ILP, a separate pass is required to go up to Bum La pass, near Chinese border which gets done by the taxi drivers on the day of travel with both id proof and ILP copies. Meanwhile,i started looking for stay options nearby and luckily got one named Hotel Massang, near the bus stand again.My friends also got stay in the same hotel. I had lunch and was determined to cover at least something nearby the same day.I walked up to the Giant Buddha statue nearby. Tawang has some shortcuts with stairs leading up to higher altitude places. The stairs can be quite slippery, plus the dogs were a bit hostile as well. I fell twice while climbing these shortcuts. But all the effort put in led me to a pretty spectacle.
Bum La Pass (37 km)Early morning ( by that I mean 8.30 am ) we left for another picturesque ride to the Indo-China border at Bum La Pass. A permit from the Army is required to visit this place and can be obtained from Tawang a day in advance.Our first pit stop was the Army Canteen. Every time I meet the Army men I feel this sense of awe at their joviality despite living in such adverse conditions and in such extreme situations. They enlightened us about the tribulations of living at an elevation of around 15,000 ft. It's not just the stress from human sources but the strain of mother nature that they have to endure. Sub-zero temperature, hypoxia leading to dyspnea (difficulty in breathing), and sleepless nights. A big salute to their courage, tolerance, and sacrifices!The army canteen had some mouth-watering samosa (kept us returning for it!), momos, Maggie and brewing chai for us and some awesome army goodies at bargainous prices. Like I got this incredible jacket which managed to keep me warm even in the sub-zero temperature and protected me from the glacial winds. Just for 700 bucks. Deal of the year!The road to Bum la is horrendous. I felt like the roads just kept getting worse and worse with each passing day. The sadistic universe must have been like, "Oh you survived that, let's throw something worse at you."But then again, the universe must be bipolar. Cause it threw at us the most pristine of places which took out breaths away. Quite literally! There are numerous lakes en route. Good luck with counting them cause I lost my count.
After two days of transit riding we were starting for the first “destination” of the trip. We had a comfortable start from Bomdilla and enjoyed the views of the Himalayas. However, the road was a mixture of broken tarmac and unforgiving off roads which made us cover distances at a very slow pace. About 100 kms from Bomdilla we reached the highest point of the trip at Se La at 13700 feet above sea level. We spent considerable time at Se La by enjoying the ride around the paradise lake and clicking loads of pictures and videos of the milestone boards and the gate welcoming us to Tawang. When we were having a cup of tea at the cafeteria at Se La, a biker coming from Tawang came to us with a very grim and tensed look. He gave us a very stern warning about a patch of black ice about 2 kilometers before Jaswantgarh and advised us to be very cautious at that stretch. This made us a little worried and we immediately started towards Tawang without wasting any more time. We counted down the kilometers to Jaswantgarh and the warning turned out to be true! There was a stretch of around 250 meters of very slippery and very dangerous black ice on the road. The condition was so bad that it was even difficult to walk on that stretch without slipping. Thankfully, we had the company of Tejas who helped me to push the heavy Royal Enfield step by step across that stretch of black ice. It was a physically exhausting experience! We thought that the worst was over and we were relieved and continued towards Tawang. This turned out to be a big mistake as there were many other small but invisible stretches of black ice all along and we weren’t as cautious as we should have been. At one such descent, there was a small stretch of black ice right before a turn. I braked to slow the motorcycle down to take the turn and before we knew it, BAM! We found ourselves on the ground with the motorcycle on top of us and the cliff only a couple of few feet away! In spite of all its flaws, one of the advantages of the Royal Enfield is that one can add large sized crash guards. Fortunately for us, the team at Destination Adventure had installed these large crash guards which were covered with a rubber mesh which along with the panniers helped us walk out of the crash with minor bruises. We were startled to say the least and then started to ride extremely cautiously. Our tensed nerves were relieved when we reached the Nuranang waterfalls at Jang. Since it was winter we could not see the waterfall in its full glory but it was beautiful nevertheless! We finally reached Tawang, the town which we had been dreaming off, at around 7 PM. It was already dark and there was not much to do. At dinner Tejas and Shashank gave us valuable tips about our onward journey to Meghalaya. They also advised us to not take too much stress as it was supposedly a “honeymoon ride” and not a test of endurance. To which we jokingly replied that we have had our share of relaxed holidays and we wanted to have a honeymoon unlike anyone else’s. We had a satisfying sleep that night.
I spent a day in Tawang exploring its famous monastery. It's massive, to say the least. The Tawang Monastery is said to be the largest in India and the 2nd largest in the world.
The picturesque town of Tawang. It is known for its tranquil beauty and vibrant soothing energy. Talk of the hospitality or the amiable nature of the residents, the towering mountains overhead or the speeding thundering valleys. Tawang touches your soul in every amazing way.Rediscovering Northeast. 'Tawang', A MUST visit.
I somehow knew that my scars would continue to fester until I embraced a geographical change. Well, recruiting friends for company is difficult with most of them busy with their jobs, some were broke and a few simply not the game for it. I faced with the dilemma of whether to sulk in unhealthy dose of self pity or travel without a company. It didn't took me long to recognise that travelling made room for much needed self-reflection and a decluttering of the mind. I was pretty much impressed by Buddhism on my earlier trips to Ladakh. My Boss was kind enough to give me a 7 day break to reboot and refresh my mind for I had not taken a vacation in the past 6 months. Tawang was a natural choice for me, though the region is prone to heavy rains and landslides during May-June. I was skeptic about the whole idea initially, but the vision of beautiful valleys and lakes for photography was too exciting. How to reach Tawang?The nearest airport is Tezpur which is about 300 km away. In addition, there are a very few flights to Tezpur from rest of India. The best option, therefore is Guwahati which has one of the busiest airports in the entire northeast. Guwahati is located 480 km from Tawang and is connected to all the major cities in India. One can drive down to Tezpur from Guwahati Airport, which is about 4 hours away. Tata Sumo, Mahindra Bolero or Maruti Eeco are easily available for hire from Tezpur to Tawang. Taxis charge approximately ₹ 7k-8k. It's a 16 hours long journey from Tezpur to Tawang which holds you tight with its unparalleled beauty and the gift of nature displayed in every inch of the land. On the way, you would be able to see the beautiful Tenga Valley, Bomdila, the spectacular Sela Pass and lake, the Jaswantgarh Memorial and the famous Nuranang or Jang falls. While at Tawang A lot of good hotels are available in Tawang which provide comfortable stay and great food as well with charges ranging from ₹ 1000- 3000 per night. It gets extremely cold at night so carrying woollens and warm clothes is a must. The hotels generally have tie ups with local travel agents to provide vehicles to visit in and around Tawang. They charge around ₹4000-5000 to take you to all the places around Tawang which includes the Tawang Monastery, Tawang War Memorial, Bum La, Taktsang Gompa, Shongatser Lake and Pankang Teng Tso. The journey from Tawang to Shongatser lake is a mesmerising one with a number of isolated lakes and beautiful valleys. The best time to visit Tawang is Feb-Mar, Oct-Nov and Apr-July. You got to watch out for extreme cold and unhygienic roadside food. And hey, the civilians require something known as the Inner Line Permit (ILP), as Tawang is located near the international border with China. ILP can be easily obtained from Delhi, Kolkata, Guwahati, Tezpur and the Tawang district headquarters It takes approximately 10-12 hours for the process. It's the best to apply for it at Tawang itself as you can plan a day out there itself. For more details you can visit the Arunachal Pradesh tourism website. Tawang is a heaven for photographers and nature lovers out there. Don't forget to carry your medicines for motion sickness, sun-tan lotion, sun hat, goggles, raincoat and an umbrella. For all you hesitant solo travellers, don't let your fear stop you. Travelling solo allows us to know ourselves a little better. And, remember you hold the power to your feelings and being your own doesn't equate with loneliness. So, chuck that damn phone away and strike a conversation with yourself. Bon Voyage!
Since I had to return the next day, I got in touch with the one of the local tour operators for my return to Tezpur. Next day morning I boarded the cab from the guest house and said good bye to our beautiful host Dehra Lama and he wished me all the best in his own unique gesture of folding the hand. Unfortunately, I don’t have a picture with him (forgot to take one).Being a curious guy myself to know more about the places and people. I had good interaction with the migrants here (mainly Bengalis and Biharis) and how they have come to be here and doing business. Also, interacted with ITBP personnel and his experience. All these talks gives us a fresh perspective into a life outside ours and changes our thinking in some way or the other.I stayed overnight in Tezpur at one of the guest house nearby the bus stand. Next morning, I took the Volvo to Guwahati and then reached airport in a cab to board my flight in the afternoon.My journey ended with lots of beautiful memories which I have tried to put above. I would suggest to go out and explore. Life is meant to be enjoyed and experienced and what better way than travelling and meeting people.I am now locating a new place to visit. Signing off. Inbox me for contacts and any suggestions if you want visiting these places.
TawangAfter 5 long hours of driving through the hilly terrain we reached our elusive destination Tawang. Tawang is synonymous with the Tawang Monastery, the mammoth structure very easily visible from far away in the hills. It is the soul of the Tawang hill people. Spirituality flows from here. The monastery is the 2nd largest in the world after the Potala palace in Lhasa.
After Sela you will pass the Jaswant Singh War Memorial. He fought the Chinese in the Sino-Indian war of 1962. You can google more on this place. Jaswant Singh has been elevated to the position of a saint and the local believe that he protects the valley from disaster. This war memorial has on the outside beautiful quotes engraved on the walls and the stones. One thing in Buddhism is that they have heart touching quotes.
166 Kms from Thimphu
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.
299 Kms from Thimphu
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 ...
26th May’18 – We had our breakfast in the hotel, checked out and left Lataguri for our journey back to Kolkata. This time we planned to have a stop at Malda. All thanks to Sanjukta Das and Pinaki Sarkar, we found a good and decent hotel, Continental Lodge in Malda Town.27th May’18 – After breakfast at the hotel in Malda, we headed towards Kolkata.Total distance covered – 1812 kms.
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.
74 Kms from Thimphu
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...
Our jeep safari was later in the day at 3:30pm, so we thought of using this time to visit Phuentsholing (Bhutan) to have lunch at some nice Bhutanese restaurant and fill up my fuel tank (Price of petrol at Bhutan was only 59 INR!!). From Bhutan we returned back to Jaldapara Tourist Lodge for the Jeep Safari. We found rhinos, peacocks and elephants during the ride. The safari ended with a nice and rhythemic tribal dance.
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.
77 Kms from Thimphu
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.