Sunday, June 6, 2010

My Trip to Foreign [Bhutan]

On 26th May we left for Bhutan, the land of Dragons. We boarded a train from Sealdah {Kolkata} to reach New Jalpaiguri after about 12 Hours journey. It is about 150 KM from NJP to Phuntshilling, the “Gateway of Bhutan”. Regular buses ply from Siliguri to Phuntshilling. We took a car from NJP. It costs about 1500/- and took nearly 4hours. The route is very beautiful through Jalpaiguri, Moynaguri, Binnaguri, Hasimara etc. We had to cross Teesta, Jaldhaka, Torsa and a number of rivers through the panoramic landscape of dooars. Lash green tea gardens in the both side of the roads added colour to the trip. The road condition were also good in most of the stretch.

We reached Jaigaon, the border of India. It is a densly populated mufussil town of India with a shabby look. The hotels are comparatively cheap here. Hotel Kasturi with double bedded room charged at Rs 500/- and 600/- are good. A cheaper deal can be found at Hotel Konark at the rate of Rs 350/- with basic amenities.

Just cross the beautiful Bhutan gate and you are in another country, The Royal Kingdom of Bhutan. In Phuntshilling, the entire landscape is changed . It is a neat and clean picturesque town with all houses with a pagoda like structure in the top. No permit or any document is needed to enter Phuntshilling. The hotels are comparatively dearer. Hotel Central will charge 1000/- for an air conditioned double room. There is no non AC room there. We found a room for Rs 500/- and another for Rs 750/- in Hotel Peljorling, just crossing the Bhutan Gate, left side on the main road. Remember to advance your watch for 30 minutes on entering Bhutan because Bhutan Standard Time is 6Hrs ahead of GMT.

As we reached on 27th May, the day of Buddha Purnima, it was a national holiday in Bhutan and the immigration office was closed. Permits for visiting Bhutan can be obtained in Saturdays and Sundays from the office next to the gate but there is no arrangement in the holidays. In the next morning we went to the immigration office. It opens sharp at 9. Every Indians need a permit to visit Thimphu and Paro. To visit other places in Bhutan, special permit is required. It can be obtained only from Thimphu Immigration office. No Visa is required for Indians. Every person has to fill up a simple form and attach one recent Passport sized photo, photocopy of Voter ID/Indian Passport and submit it to the immigration office. Please remember that only Voter ID and Passport is accepted here. If you do not posses any of those, they will send you to Indian Embassy and a certificate of Indian national is to be obtained from there to get the permit. Each and every member of the touring team [except minor children] has to be present in the office. They will check the original Voter ID/Passport and take your photograph in digital webcam and issue the permit. It may take at least one and half hour depending upon the rush. The staff of the office with traditional Bhutanese dress are very cooperative and strictly adhere to the principle of “first come first serve.” Please remember to enter in any Bhutanese Govt. office with proper dress and shoe.
[Photo by author]

To be continued….

For More Information, visit