Planning your Honeymoon but don’t have enough leaves left for Eurotrip? Traveling abroad is a must for honeymoon but budget constraints pulling you back? Look no further.. the perfect solution is our quaint neighbor, Bhutan. Nestled in the laps of the Eastern Himalayas, Bhutan is the perfect destination for a short trip with family or the much needed ice-breaker for newly married couples. Stuck in similar situation, we also chose Bhutan as our escape after our big fat (and tiring) Bong Wedding.
How to reach:
By Train: Catch a train from Kolkata, Delhi, Kanpur or Ranchi to the small town of Hasimara Jalpaiguri District of West Bengal. From Hasimara you will need to book local cabs to Phuentsholing in Bhutan.
By Road:Take bus/cabs to Jaigaon in West Bengal and then reach Bhutan by local cab via Phuentsholing.
By Air: Personally, I would suggest flying down to Paro as the airport has breathtaking views. Druk and Bhutan Airlines both provide flights to Paro from Kolkata and New Delhi. The experience of the plane cruising amidst the Eastern Himalayan range and then dramatically landing at Paro Airport is amazing.
Visa – What to do and how to get:
Bhutan provides Visa on arrival for Indian Nationals with valid passport or Voter ID card. Visa can be granted at airport for those flying to Paro, or can be obtained from check-posts for those traveling by road. This visa will serve as travel permit for Thimpu and Paro only. For other places like Punakha, separate permit needs to be arranged. If you are taking local cab, the travel agency can help with arranging the permits. Alternately, visa can be obtained prior to travel from Bhutan House (Embassy) in Kolkata and New Delhi.
For more Information click here.
Reached Paro by flight from Kolkata. After completing all visa formalities, our cab driver picked us up from Paro Airport. We did local sight seeing at Paro and also visited Chelela Pass, to the highest motorable road in Bhutan. Paro is very serene and calm and like most hill station, everyone goes to sleep early. So we had an early dinner and checked into our hotel for the night.
Things to See in Paro:
Chelela Pass – 13,084 ft high and pretty chilly. Be sure to carry warm clothes
Dungtse Lhakhang – Buddhist Temple
Rinpung Dzong – Buddhist Monastery and current government office of Paro
National Museum of Bhutan – Houses masterpieces of Bhutanese art
Taktsang Lhakhang – Tiger’s Nest Monastery
We visited Taktsang Lhakhang or the Tiger’s Nest. On an average it takes around 2-3 hours to climb up the hill on foot and then take all the steps to the most famous Monastery of Bhutan. You can either trek or take a khachhar or mule ride till halfway up the hill.
We then traveled to Thimpu by cab and did local sightseeing there. Unlike Paro, Thimpu is pretty busy and bustling. Thimpu offers you a wide range of things to see and do.
Things to see in Thimpu:
Dordenma Buddha – Golden Buddha Statue on a hilltop. Offers a mesmerizing view of the entire valley
Tashichho Dzong – huge monastery which is partially used as the royal throne room and for government meetings
Changangkha Lhakhang – Monastery, lights up as a beacon for the entire valley at night
The Royal Textile Academy – For those who would like to explore the culture of Bhutan
The Clock Tower – Situated at the heart of Thimpu
Motithang Takin Preserve – wildlife reserve takin, the national animal of Bhutan
Shopping – Lots of local markets to shop for souvenirs near the marketplace of Thimpu
We headed of for Punakha Dzong, the old administrative center of Bhutan. Punakha is around 2-3 hour drive from Thimpu and you will drive through the Dochula Pass. Dochula Pass viewpoint offers an awesome panoramic view of the snow-clad Himalayan range.There is also a memorial of 108 ‘chortens’ or stupas along with a monastery. Make sure you halt here to enjoy the view and the incredibly fresh air.
Punakha Dzong – Built at the confluence of the Pho chu and Mo Chu river, the architecture of this monastery resembles that of a fortress. It is also the site for hosting the Royal Weddings of Bhutan. Many chambers of the monastery is closed for public viewing but nevertheless, it is an architectural excellence.The river banks with the fortress provides a nice backdrop for photography.
Things to Eat at Bhutan:
Ema Datshi – Bhutanes traditional cuisine comprising chillies chopped in a gravy made of cheese. Other variants available with potato and chicken
Jasha Maru – spicy chicken dish
Local Ales – Red Panda and Druk
We started of from Thimpu and enjoyed 4 hours of a very scenic drive through Phuentsholing region to reach Jaigaon in West Bengal. We caught the KanchenKanya express from Hasimara and traveled back to Kolkata with the memories of Bhutan deeply embedded in the corners of our mind.. making a silent promise to return to the Valley of Happiness again…
For detailed guide, please click on the below image:
Happy Traveling folks.