Entering into the kingdom of Bhutan :: The Land of Thunder Dragon

T-r-r- ingg, T-r-r- ingg, T-r-r- ingg. Its 30 minutes past 3 in the morning and I wake up without giving a fight to my alarm clock. A few minutes from then, I step outside with a bag on my back, to accompany my friends in our first foreign tour nonetheless to our neighbouring country Bhutan. So I must record the date. It is 27th February 2014. We all arrive at the Railway station and board into the Train to Hasimara. Yes, you get it right, it is Hasimara, a small Railway Station in North Bengal. All trains do not stop here or many of them do not pass through this route. Alternatively, one can get down in New Alipurduar. We choose Hasimara because of its proximity to the Bhutan Entry Point at Phuentsholing. After a short drive of 40 minutes from Hasimara we reach the Indian side of the border called Jaigaon, a small and a nasty town.

We cross over the Entry Gate, a free entry gate, and approach to Regional Immigration Office with our respective Voter ID Card/Passport for Entry Permit. An hour for lunch in between and we are with the permits to set our journey into the land of Thunder Dragon at 3.00pm.

Kailash Sharma, our driver of Rajasthan origin, is a very calm and quite person and drives on this mountainous terrain with great tolerance and skill. We notice no rush drive by Bhutanese in general and there is absolutely no horn. We are now connected with a Bhutan mobile network service and all of us call our dear ones at home.

On the way to Thimphu

On the way to Thimphu

After sometime we urge for coffee, so our car stops at a shop at Geddu. Everyone in the shop including the owner is watching a Hindi movie on television to which they are deeply involved, yet our coffees are served in no time.

Cafeteria at Geddu on the way to Thimphu

Cafeteria at Geddu on the way to Thimphu

After that our car hits the highway again at a speed of 40-50 KMPH and quite sometime after dark we stop at the check posts en-route at the confluence of Wang Chhu (“Chhu” means river) and Paro Chhu, 31 KM before Thimphu. There are actually two check posts en-route, which checks for the valid permit, the earlier one was just after leaving Phuentsholing.

My friend Chandra comes out from the car and finds a lonely place to throw up. He says, “I was doing everything in my control not to throw up – but in the end I realized, I was just delaying the misery.”

Permit check takes only a few minutes; thankfully people are so efficient here. Our Journey starts again. It is now 8.45 pm, our car enters into the capital city “Thimphu”. We notice a big photograph of the King and Queen at the Entry Gate and a wish therein “Long Live Our King”. Thimphu is a town that’s small, yet not so small as to be called a town.  We notice the picturesque architecture and purity of air. We reach at the Hotel, a good and clean one; the best part of it is the location, on a city centre.  Outside temperature of 30 C makes the night really cold. We finish our dinner and take guard of blankets.

In the kingdom of Bhutan :: The Capital City Thimphu

Kamal and Chandra stroll through the heart of the Thimphu city this morning while rests of us are engaged in our normal routine. Kamal comes back and shows his keenness to take us with him for a stroll beforehand. We too show our eagerness and set our feet with him upon the road to the Bhutan Thailand Friendship Park. It is small but a cute place. After some photo shoot we come back for breakfast.

To start with today’s tour our driver takes us to the Immigration office to get our permits extended for Punkaha. He suggests us to drop the application for extension of permit which we may collect later while returning back from the city tour. We do the same and resume our tour.

A beautiful architecture in Thimphu

A beautiful architecture in Thimphu

Thimphu City

Thimphu City

Our car stops first at National Memorial Chorten (Stupa). It was built in 1974 in memory of the Third King. The chorten with a golden spire is one of the main areas of worship in Thimphu.  People circumambulate the Chorten, spin the large red prayer wheels and make their prayers. We also offer our prayers and circumambulate the chorten. It is really a charming place.

Memorial Chorten(Stupa

Memorial Chorten (Stupa)

Chorten, the place of worship

Chorten, the place of worship

We now set out our journey to Buddha Point. We are fascinated by the excellent views over Thimphu valley from the road.

Thimphu Valley

Thimphu Valley

On the way to Buddha Point

On the way to Buddha Point

We reach the Buddha point and see a 169 feet tall bronze statue of Buddha Dordenma (meaning Vajra-throned Buddha) is sitting up high on a mountainside overlooking the Thimphu Valley.

169 feet Tall Bronze Buddha Statue

169 feet Tall Bronze Buddha Statue

At Buddha Point

At Buddha Point

After spending a good time at Buddha Point we move towards the Takin Preserve which is located on a wooded hillside. We enter into the Preserve and see Takins are roaming. Takin is a national animal of Bhutan. I believe it is worth visiting this place because Takin is hardly seen outside, not even in zoo.

Takin, national animal of Bhutan

Takin, national animal of Bhutan

It is a small Preserve and we quickly return to see the Thimphu Dzong. The Taschichho Dzong is a beautiful fortress located just outside the city. It is also the seat of the office of the King of Bhutan.

Taschichho Dzong, Thimphu

Taschichho Dzong, Thimphu

Thimphu Dzong on the lap of Mountains

Thimphu Dzong in the lap of Mountains

After seeing the Dzong, we come back into the valley and collect our permits for Phunaka. We notice some mistakes in our permits and address to the officials immediately. It takes quite a time to get the permits corrected which leaves no office hour for the day to obtain a separate permit for our vehicle which is issued by the Department of RST located near the bridge.  It comes as an unpleasant surprise which is now doubled by a piece of information that from tomorrow there is a three days Public Holiday for the festival Losar. We all stand speechless as we are not feeling at our best. Our driver is promising to give a try tomorrow morning at RST office. But no words of him are taking away the pain we are now feeling because we understand the implications of not having permit for our vehicle.

In the evening we pass through the National Stadium in Thimphu, a small but beautiful ground. Besides Archery, which is their national sports, other games are also played here. We now stop by the side of a road on uphill and see the spectacular view of Dzong light up with red and yellow lights. A session of Photo shoot begins with all known poses.

Thimphu Dzong at night

Thimphu Dzong at night

Backed into the hotel we order for “Ema Datshi”, the national dish of Bhutan, for our dinner with Roti. Ema means Chilly, Datshi means cheese. Ema Datshi is a chilly and cheese stew. It is a tasty recipe and not hot at all.

I lie down on the bed for a good sleep. But it is not coming to me. My mind is grappling with so many questions. Will we be able to make our journey to Phunaka? Will we not see the famous Dochula Pass? Will we not see the Phunaka Dzong? I wish all of these will happen and we will have a delightful tomorrow.

40 Comments

  • Jaishree says:

    It was a smooth ride for a reader into Bhutan. And the piece left the reader curious and eager. bring the continuing part soon.

    • Anupam Chakraborty says:

      Hi Jaishree

      Thanks for the appreciation and as a reader your ride into Bhutan. Hope to get you in the next ride soon.

      Regards

      Anupam

  • Nandan Jha says:

    Welcome aboard Anupam, actually welcome as a writer now.

    A great story, told in a simple and effortless way. That is admirable for sure. And as Jaishree wrote, please bring the continuing part soon. Wishes.

    • Anupam Chakraborty says:

      Hello Nandan

      Thanks for your appreciation, support and welcoming me as a writer too. I am glad to be on board. Surely I will be back with the continuing part soon.

      Thanks, and ever thanks

      Anupam

  • Arunoday says:

    It is my pleasure to see some interesting comment on your story. Hope your journey as a writer be as smooth as your writing.

  • MUNESH MISHRA says:

    Hi Anupam ji welcome to ghumakkar. Very nice post of the lovey neighboring country of Indias capital Thimpu.
    Photographs shows the freshness and purity of the place. More story about other places are awaited.
    Thank you for sharing.

    • Anupam Chakraborty says:

      Hello Munesh Ji

      How do you do? Thanks for your inspiring comments. Certainly I will come up with more stories on Bhutan.

      Anupam

  • sanjeev says:

    Hi Anupam, pleasant surprise to have latest on Bhutan..as since last 2 days I am thinking/planning of visit to Bhutan and I got a readily available latest Guide…:)
    I am from Bhopal and will reach Kolkata ….from there I didn’t know anything but now onward I will follow your blog….& will disturb you by asking lots of questions.
    Right now enjoy Bhutan…. happy journey …
    sanjeev

    • Anupam Chakraborty says:

      Hello Sanjeev

      Its great to hear from about your upcoming tour to Bhutan. I will help you with the information as much as I know. Thanks for liking my story.

      Anupam

  • Smita Dhall says:

    Superb story and wonderful pictures. Welcome to Ghumakkar, Anupam!

    • Anupam Chakraborty says:

      Hi Smita

      No words of mine are enough to thank you for such nice comments.

      Thank you very much.

      Anupam

  • Subhabrata Chatterjee says:

    Good one!. Keep writing ! Nice way to take the reader along your journey for virtual travel..

  • Ashok Sharma says:

    very good and refreshing post.very very good photographs.keep it up.keep roaming,keep sharing.share about room rents,cabs,bargaining etc.too.

    • Anupam Chakraborty says:

      Hello Ashok

      Thank you very much for liking the post and saying keep roaming. Thats what actually I want to do but …………etc etc.

      My replies to your queries are:

      1. Room Rents : Available for every budget probably from Rs.1000/- per day (Double Beded)
      2. Cabs : Rs.2000/- to Rs.2500/- per day
      3. Bargaining : Not experienced much except a little at Paro town while purchasing jewellery.

      Thanks

      Anupam

  • Kamal Krishna Das says:

    Hi Anpam, Glad to see your post since I am also part of your journey. People should visit our nearest country. Good for tracking. Kamal Krishna Das

    • Anupam Chakraborty says:

      Hi KKD

      Traveling is always eventful and interesting with you. Hope to be on the board again on this summer. This time rushing into mud. Hows that?

      Thanks

      Anupam

  • synddeepak says:

    main yahan pur naya hun lekin ye bahut achcha blog hai, anupamji ne kaafi achche se bhutan ke baare mai bataya hai. itna achcha description dekhkar lagta hai saare post padne padenge. isme ye graph jaisi chez hai kaafi madad kar rahi hai. anupam ji thanks bhutan ke baare mai itne karib se batane ke liye. bhutan jaisa desh itna sundar hoga yeh nhi socha tha. apne toh bhutan ke liye meri thinking badal di.

    • Anupam Chakraborty says:

      Dear Synddeepak

      Main bhi naya hoon. Mujhe achha laga jankar ki aap ka soch Bhutan ke bare badal gaya.

      Sukriya

      Anupam

  • silentsoul says:

    Welcome aboard Ghumakkar Anupam…. with story of an anupam place with magnificent fotos

  • Very informative. Thanks. Should try once-I am yet to visit Bhutan

  • Venkat says:

    Welcome to Ghumakkar, Anupam. A rare post on the beautiful sights of Bhutan.

  • fazlul alam says:

    I really like your fantastic travel story, I shocked that somebody can write such a way that anybody can inter the story and feeling the sweet moment that you described.

  • Anupam, Welcome to Ghumakkar. Thanks for sharing a Nice story and beautiful pictures.

  • Sharmistha Dan says:

    Lovely post. Specially the ending part..how you keep readers awaiting. I also join the queue of ghumakkars waiting for your next post.

  • Kamal says:

    I like to thanks Anupam da for the story and all bhutan tour friends I m also the part of your journey…

  • Good one !

    Bhutan is very much in my wish list.

    waiting for the next post……………..

  • Anupam Chakraborty says:

    Thank you. Hope you have arrived from Bali. Looking forward to your stories on Bali.

  • Very nice article with great pictures. Good to know meanings of few things like :Chhu” means river and the national animal Takin. Waiting for the follow up article. How are the roads and general architecture of Bhutan?

  • Anupam Chakraborty says:

    Roads are nice and well maintained. Architecture of the building are typical and almost same.

    Thanks

  • Nirdesh Singh says:

    Hi Anupam,

    Nice breezy post about Bhutan! You have a great flair for writing. Hope to see you get the vehicle permit.

    All construction and architecture seems to be regulated so everything looks organised and lovely!

    • Anupam Chakraborty says:

      Hi Nirdesh,

      Thanks for the praise. Please take out some time to read my next posts in the series. Thanks once again.

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