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256 Kms from Xigaze
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...
(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. 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.
8. 'Barfi': ‘itti si khushi’ in Darjeeling toy train
Day 2Since I had nothing productive to do for the next day, I decided to ride to Darjeeling and have some tea at the famous "Glenary's". My big brother Santanu had initially planned to just see me off till the foothills but the sight of the hills persuaded him to join me till Darjeeling. A foggy-rainy ride of 3 hours and we found ourselves at the famous mall road of Darjeeling. We walked, we ate and we clicked to our heart's content and after a refreshing cup of tea at Glenary's we started our ride downhill. I was riding on hills after months and I made the most of it. By this time Miss Mallick had finally boarded her train which was by now close to 15 hours late. Late at night I went and picked her up from the railway station and even though I was shocked and worried after seeing the size of the backpack she was carrying, I was excited with the prospect of "The Proposal Ride" finally kick-starting the next day after much delay.
Darjeeling, the queen of the hills in West Bengal, India, is hitting the news for all the wrong reasons nowadays. Once peace prevails in the valley again, there can be no better quintessential place to relax than Darjeeling. Nature has been very kind on Darjeeling in terms of aesthetic beauty. But, unfortunately the history of Darjeeling and its people is disturbing. Darjeeling saw power struggles among various community groups. The British Raj ruled over the town for quite sometime and its influence is visible even today. The British frequented Darjeeling as a summer retreat and the tradition has been picked up by the Indians. Residents from West Bengal and other neighbouring states flock to Darjeeling in the summer months.If you are tight on time and wondering how to enjoy Darjeeling in one-day flat then you are in the right place.
Darjeeling, like its contemporary Indian hill-stations such as Shimla and Dehra Dun, is famed for its boarding schools. Brought up in strict discipline, pupils go onto graduating into well-developed alumni. The picture in focus, is set in the football field of St Joseph's School, North Point. The hallowed portals, ranked as the fifteenth best boarding school in the country, have seen members of the Bhutanese Royal Family, and former billiards champion Michael Ferreira in their prestigious alumni list.While walking along the hills of Darjeeling, this sight is very common. Jam-packed houses, with little flecks of green peeking out, and a Buddhist pagoda, that stands out. Buddhism is popular among the majority Gorkha population, though there is a significant base for Hinduism as well.
The hotel is located within a few minutes distance from the Gandhi Road. The property was actually a residential family property. The couple came up with the idea of constructing a hotel for the tourists. They constructed the upper floor for lodging and the ground floor was kept for the restaurant and café.
Things to do: Take a ride on the Himalayan Railway to the Ghum Monastery; have a candlelight dinner at the iconic Glenary's; take an hour-long walk from the main town to the picturesque Happy Valley Tea Estate; try your luck at spotting a red panda at the Singalila National Park.
DarjeelingThose who want to avoid the Darjeeling crowd can stay at Rangaroon and yet get all the taste of Darjeeling tour. You can easily make a day trip to Darjeeling and visit all the places of attraction. Visit the Darjeeling Zoo, Himalayan Mountaineering Institute, Japanese Peace Pagoda, Darjeeling Mall and other places of interest. You can also take a visit to the Ghoom Monastery and the railway Museum at Ghoom Station.Stay At:There is only one homestay at Rangaroon. – Khaling Cottage Homestay. It is a very beautiful homestay having 4 rooms in total. The hosts are really friendly and go all out to make your stay comfortable and memorable. Their motto is "Come as guests, Leave as family". And the will really become your family after your stay.
How wrong can I be?! The climate at Tiger Hill – the famous spot to see the mighty mountain, put the one at Pelling to shame. The huge crowd gathered on the hill sadly started walking back with disappointment.Like at Sikkim here also the tour was arranged by the hotel people. The morning tour included two more spots also for which I didn’t bother to get up from the seat at all in that rainy climate.Another cab came around 9.30 AM for the next round of sightseeing called the 5 point tour. The climate was villain again at many spots.
251 Kms from Xigaze
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.
216 Kms from Xigaze
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...
Drive from Lachen to Gangtok.Duration - 5 hours
New Jalpaiguri to GangtokStay at Gangtok for a day and enjoy the different things to see around. One of the best places to visit the Enchey Monastery and to party at Cafe Live n Loud.Duration (NJP to Gangtok) - 5 hours
Day 9The morning started with a disaster! I found that my phone was completely formatted and all my pictures, videos and data were lost. For convenience sake, I had clicked all the pictures and the videos of this ride on my phone but it was lost forever, including the proposal video. It was heart shattering news.We somehow managed to pull ourselves together and decided to seek some peace at the Rumtek monastery. Within a few minutes we were our cheery selves as there was nothing which we could do about the lost video. We consoled ourselves by saying that the video is sure to be in our hearts till the rest of our lives. Thanks to Facebook and WhatsApp we managed to at least salvage the pictures we had uploaded and shared.
Day 8There is a term in Bengali called "Lyadh-Khawa" which basically translates to lazing around. That is exactly what we did on this day and we deserved every bit of it. We woke up at noon, had brunch on our beds, shopped at the M.G. Marg in the evening, saw the whole city from the ropeway and went to a place called "Cafe Live and Loud" at night. Now I have visited the famous Someplace Else in Kolkata and the Hard Rock Cafe in Delhi but the whole feel of this cafe was different. The local band which was playing was extraordinarily good; the food was lip smacking and they best part was that they had got their LIITs right. We let our hair down and simply had a blast!
Day 7Yet again, we were welcomed by a landslide after riding for a few kilometres. Compared to the size of the landslides we had seen in the past days this was a small one and we were sure that it would be taken care in a couple of hours. Since the last two days we had been riding in continuous rain and every piece of cloth that we were wearing or we had in our bags was wet. The sun was shining brightly after days and since we had nothing better to do while waiting for the road to be cleared, we decided to open our own clothes wholesale shop at the side of the road.
Yakten is only 35 km from Gangtok, the capital city of Sikkim.Nearest Airport: Bagdogra is the nearest airport and is 145 km away.Nearest Railhead: New Jalpaiguri (NJP) is the nearest Railway head.From NJP or Bagdogra, you will get shared as well as private vehicles to Gangtok. From Gangtok, you have to book a car to Yatken.
Gangtok is a hub for exploring Sikkim. It is a beautiful hilly city with several options for tourists to enjoy and explore.Here are some things to do in and around Gangtok.
To promote winter tourism, the Sikkim Tourism Board organizes a winter carnival every year, in the months of December and January. Recently, the carnival has been renamed after the Red Panda, the state animal of Sikkim. The festival is organized in state capital Gangtok.
There is one major problem in Gangtok that no cab is allowed to move before 10 am. due to which we had to change some of our plans but it was also good to rest a little more in our rooms. We left for Lachung at around 11 am. On our way were some really amazing waterfalls, the sight seeing of which was also included in the package. We reached Lachung at around 6 pm after many stops at waterfalls. Keep in mind that Lachung & Lachen are two different places.The price to Lachung and back was around INR 1200-1500 per pax which included all the meals, stay & travel and excluded the charges to visit "Yumthang Valley & Zero Point" which costed INR 2500 for whole cab, which can accommodate around 10 people. We also wished to visit the "Katao Military Base Camp" which also costed another INR 2500 for the cab. Our companions in the cab were pretty good people and agreed for the same.
We reached Gangtok at around 11 am. , settled and had lunch at 'Chopsticks' (situated on main M.G. Road, had delicious chinese food). We started our 1st day of sight seeing from the Hanuman Tok which is considered the highest point in Gangtok and has a spectacular view of whole Gangtok.
215 Kms from Xigaze
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...
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.
1. Thimphu - We landed at the Paro International Airport from Kolkata and headed to Thimphu for a 2N stay (due to some delay in airlines departure from kolkata we reached Paro later than expected). The evening was spent exploring Thimphu on foot. This capital city is unique in the way that there are no traffic lights at intersections! All traffic movements are on mutual consent and needless to say, they rarely have any road accidents.
Only a 2-hour drive from Paro, Thimphu, the capital of Bhutan is the most happening town of the country. Here, you can give your honeymoon a touch of fun, frolic and party!Where To Stay:
National Institute for Zorig Chusum in Thimpu is a must visit! It’s a government initiative to preserve local art and craft. It offers courses on Bhutan’s 13 traditional arts which includes calligraphy, painting, sculpture, wood carving, casting, pottery, embroidery, tailoring, weaving, masonry, silver and gold smith workshops. The discipline and skills that the students exhibit is extremely impressive!
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/
220 Kms from Xigaze
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...
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.
4. Paro - The drive from Haa to Paro was a memorable one through the Chelala Pass (the highest motorable road in Bhutan). Chelela Pass was full of snow and we had a lot of fun engaging in snowball fights and making a ridiculous looking snowman. It was sunny up there and the air free of any pollution made the sun literally burn our skin. We had to take off our jackets and then too we were sweating with snow all around us.
Paro Tshechue/Paro Festival which happens in the month of April at the Rinpung Dzong is a series of dance performances by the monks and laymen wearing ornate costumes and masks. It is said that one gains merit by attending these festivals. (WooHoo! Brownie points for being a part of this) We woke up at 3am (we surprise ourselves by doing things like these :p ) to witness the Thongdrel festival – which is an unfurling of a massive embroidered painting of Guru Rinpoche. It is considered so sacred that simply seeing a Thongdrel unfurl is said to cleanse one’s sins!
Tiger’s Nest or Paro Taktsang monastery in Paro is by far the most iconic symbol of Bhutan. Legend has it that Guru Rinpoche arrived here on the back of a tigress and meditated at this monastery. Hence the name – ‘Tiger’s Nest’. The trek takes about 6 hours which includes the tour of the monastery. The trail is uphill but not very steep, pretty doable we must say. It is tiring yes, gives you a serious fitness check (if you don’t believe in any form of exercise, like us!) but believe us, once you reach the top and inhale the pure and serene air, you will forget the aching bones and the gasping you experienced. The scenery over the valley is just mind blowing – completely lined with prayer flags and prayer wheels.
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.
273 Kms from Xigaze
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...
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.
273 Kms from Xigaze
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...
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.
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.
275 Kms from Xigaze
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. ...
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.