The Road from India to Bhutan.

Babit Gurung
Feb 10
Happiness is a country, you perhaps never knew about it. The country is none other than — Bhutan. This small country rather chooses happiness above all other futile indexes as a matric of development.

Drive from India to Bhutan

On arrival at IXB airport ( Bagdogra — India), hire a vehicle to reach Phuentsholing. (approx 4 hrs drive — 120 KM). Phuentsholing is a small town at the Indo-Bhutan border. Halt at Phuentsholing is necessary because this is the place where you need to get your permits cleared to Enter Bhutan. The drive from Bagdogra to Phuentsholing is a beautiful journey through the forests and Tea gardens. The road curved through the bank of River Teesta provides the glimpses that is worth capturing in your camera. This trip is easier for Indians, where they just need to get their permits directly from the immigration at Phuentsholing. For foreigners, they will need a multiple visa clearance and also some time to get their permit. The cost for them is a bit on a higher side ($200 — $250 PER DAY). The cost includes all the charges for hotel, vehicle, and guide. On the way, you will cross beautiful tea gardens and forests like Chapramari national park and Jaldapara National Park.

Evening at Phuentsholing

After reaching Phuentsholing and getting your formalities done. Do not forget to visit the nearby crocodile park if you are an amphibian lover. Phuentsholing is a small town, so you do not have much to explore. The only amazing thing you can notice is that how a small and low wall can divide nationalities not only with there national identity but also the cultural and behavioral differences. The other side of the wall will be India where you can clearly watch the crowded market and this side which will be Bhutan, all silent and clean.

Drive from Phuentsholing to Thimpu

After Breakfast, check out from Hotel — Once the immigration formalities are done Drive to Thimphu-The capital city of Bhutan (Approx 178 kms / 6 hrs) which lies at an elevation of 2300m. Thimphu lies in a beautiful valley, sprawling up a hillside on the west bank of the Thimphu Chhu River and has a total area of about 1,809 sq. kms. The drive through will take 6 hours, you will not feel the longing as much it really sounds. The road to Thimpu is one of the most memorable drives you may have never experienced. After enjoying the long drive through the wavy roads curling the beautiful mountain and valleys you reach Thimpu.

Arrival at Thimpu

Thimpu, is the capital city of the country of Happiness and is bestowed with the spectacular natural beauty of the landscape. Everywhere you will find the Dzongs built in place of road dividers that predicts the religious belief among the Bhutanese people. Almost all the people of Bhutan speak English, so language will not be a problem here. The common sight is people chewing Doma ( Betel leaf with lime and fermented betel nut), but the more surprising part is that unlike India, you will hardly find the stained walls due to spitting. If you ever visit any house in Bhutan, they will serve you with Doma. Beware of this as you may feel dizzy and sedative if you are chewing it for the first time.

Day at Thimpu - Traditional Hospital

After breakfast go for morning sightseeing — visit the Indigenous hospital where the traditional old art of healing is still practiced. The Institute also has a library dating back to around 1616, when Tibetan Buddhism was introduced to Bhutan. The books and recipes were collected from monasteries where scholars had preserved the medical lore.

Day at Thimpu - Arts and craft school, National Library and Handicraft Centre.

The National Institue of Zoring Chusum cam be called the centre of education for arts and crafts of Bhutan. They offer many courses that are designed to equip the students with amazing artistic skills of the traditional art of Bhutan. You can see the students practicing in the school with their immense enthusiasm, painting, sculpture, and weaving. Thanka painting is one such art where you can see their skills beautifully delivered. The paintings done by the students are also put on sale in the shops. So if you are looking for a memento, do not miss this opportunity. Thanka paintings mainly depict the religious aspects of Buddhism. You can find the paintings of various Buddhism deities and also the 7 lucky signs of Buddhism.

Day at Thimpu - other interesting places

In the afternoon visit the Memorial Chorten built in the memory of the late King Jigme Dorji Wangchuck, 15th Century Changangkha monastery, Tashi choo Dzong, Buddha Point, BBS tower, Motithang mini zoo to see the rare «Takin» national animal of Bhutan and drive further down with a good view of the Thimphu valley. Visit the new Drupthob nunnery temple. Evening at your own leisure. Overnight in Thimphu.

Drive to Paro

After breakfast transfer (Approx — 2 hrs) to Paro, covering some beautiful glimpses on the way. Every turn on the way comes with surprise and scenic view of the mountain and nature. Visit the historic ruins of the Drukgyal Dzong, built in 1647. Paro‟s Main Street features shops on both sides, all crammed with brasswares, silk and cotton scarves, incense sticks, silver filigree jewellery, gho (Bhutanese National Dress for Men) which can be matched with elaborately embroidered boots, kira (wrap-around sarong worn for Bhutanese Women) and prayer flags that one could string across any open space to seek blessings for loved ones and friend. Overnight in Paro.

A spiritual journey to the Taktshang Monastery — Tiger nest.

After breakfast & drive 12kms north of Paro to visit Taktshang: or «Tiger’s Nest» is one of the most famous places to visit in Bhutan and one of the holiest sites in Bhutan. It is perched on a steep granite cliff at 2950 meters overlooking northern Paro valley. The place is especially venerated because of its association with Guru Rimpoche and is believed that more merit is gained if we meditate even for a minute in Taktsang than many months in other places. The main temple was built in 1692 and the temple was badly damaged by fire several times with the most recent one being in 1998.It will take about 2-3hr to hike to the monastery one way which you need to hike on your own. (You can hire a pony on direct payment basis which will take to certain point — afterward also you need to hike it & it will take approx 1hrs one way). Back to hotel. Spend your night at Paro

Leaving the country of happiness

Here you have two options — Either catch a flight from Paro to Bagdogra airport, or you can again drive back to Phuentsholing and then further to either Bagdogra airport or NJP ( New Jalpaiguri Railway station). The only difference is that if you choose the road then you may end up staying one night again Phuentsholing as it will be a too long drive from Paro to Siliguri.

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