My Bhutan Blog

I have been planning for a trip to Bhutan from 2 years – Bhutan is called as the land of thunder dragons.


Paro Taktsang... icon of Bhutan


And I always thought if this trip is accompanied by my school friends then the fun doubles…

And that’s it… almighty have heard my prayers.
We 4 i.e. Myself, Debabrata Rahut, Tanmoy Saha and Biltu Sarkar started another memorable journey to Bhutan… The Land of Thunder Dragons.



we 4...from left...Biltu,Tanmoy,Debabrata and me

Bhutan is a land where you will find full of greeneries, where no traffic signal present but the discipline they maintain is just unpredictable
Bhutan is a land with least noise pollution….”no horn please”… from vehicles!!
Bhutan is a land with no posters anywhere…no Ads even at shops…
Land of smoke free zone
Bhutan is a land where you can escape into meditation….and also escape into the tantalizing nature and its beauty.
WELCOME TO BHUTAN- The Land of Thunder Dragons…

symbol of Bhutan


Day 1 - On first day after having packed with all goods and essentials…we started our 1600kms to and fro journey from my home Balurghat. Our plan was first day we will travel up to Siliguri and stay there overnight and start again for Phuentsholing next day and did as per our plan. On our journey to Siliguri we halted at Sharma Line Hotel at Chopra and had mouth watering foods like Patiala chicken, mutton razongosh.  


at Sharma line hotel...Chopra


we near toll gate near Siliguri


we near toll gate near Siliguri


Balurghat to Siliguri map



Day 2 -  We started our journey after having breakfast at Sevoke road…Bread butter and two boil eggs. Debabrata, Biltu , Tonmoy along with me having full of energy and  curiosity….what will happen next and how the overall trip will be. We crossed Sevoke Coronation Bridge near about 9:30am and move towards Malbazar. After crossing Malbazar we climbed at Chalsha and had a photo session out there. Then we stopped at Gorumara forest and escaped into the natures tune.


Sinclairs top at Chalsha



at Gorumara forest



we 4 at Gorumara forest
Siliguri to Phuentsholing route



 After that we have our lunch at Birpara and finally stopped at Phuentsholing. Phuentsholing is a small town surrounded by mountains enriched by Bhutanese culture. We completed our immigration norms at Bhutan gate at Phuentsholing. We stayed at phuentsholing at night and next day after completeion vehicle permit we headed towards Thimphu. Thimphu is the country capital of Bhutan.



my immigration paper


bike immigration paper


Phuentsholing from hotel balcony


sipping tea with phuentsholing


shop at Phuentsholing


Bhutan Gate at Phuentsholing-Jaigaon border


Evening snacks 


Good morning Phuentsholing

Phuentsholing to Thimphu


First of all I want to share that roads of Bhutan are really royal. The smooth road which will never pull you out from nature’s attraction.

no description needed about Bhutan highway


While at road we sometime lost into the clouds and sometime we halted seeing the beautiful  landscape. The journey from Phuentsholing to Thimphu covers many zig zag roads, sometimes roads divided by beautiful waterfalls sometimes roads at high altitude makes our every minute shivering(near Chapcha). 

near Chapcha


wang chu at our left


god is here


God save us...


Sun sometimes showed his heat make us a comfortable ride sometimes escapes force us to wear woolen caps/mufflers. in these way the hide and seek game between nature and four of us brought Thimphu at evening after crossing small village called Chapcha,Gedu then Chuzom…the place where road to Paro diverts, then Bunakha,Chapcha,Sakenang and Semtokha. We were guided by river Wang Chuu which falls always leftside of our tour towards Thimphu. Here in Bhutanese they call river as “Chuu” The place/road from Semtokha to Thimphu was very dry and cold.

At 07:00 PM we reached Thimphu.

Thimphu gate


Royal gate of Thimphu...on the other side


We were welcomed by the gentle traffic with glittering city lights. We headed towards clock tower square at the heart of Thimphu city. The exact name of the place is Norzin Lam. We keep our bikes at the corner of the traffic signal point (Cham Lam road) and started inquiring about staying at budget hotels.

our bikes were kept here at Norzin Lam traffic point

Our investigation period continued there for more than a hour and finally we get sheltered into Ugyen Hotel(Contact Number- +9752322966) opposite to Clock tower. The room rent was 1000 Bhutanese Currency i.e. Bhutanese Ngultrum or simply Nu. After we got fresh at our rooms, we again leave our hotel in search of dinner. Ugyen Hotel also offers fooding but we the ‘four’ musketeers wanted local food. We then headed towards the traffic point and got struck to a restaurant. There we have Bhutanese fried rice and omlet. Bhutanese people add one type of masala …they told us in English black pepper but in Bhutanese it is called Sichuan pepper and in their local language it is called “Thingye”. Sichuan pepper's unique aroma and flavor is not hot or pungent like black, white, or chili peppers. Instead, it has slight lemony overtones and creates a tingly numbness in the mouth that sets the stage for hot spices. We returned to our hotel room and gave a sound sleep that night.









dinner at Thimphu day 1



Day 3- In the morning I woke up hearing a Ting …..Ting…. sound! That was Buddhist Praying wheels attached with the clock tower.


view from our holtel room...Thimphu clock tower


Really a morning wakeup call from Lord Buddha!!!


I must admit typical Bengali food is missing in Bhutan and that’s practical. No fish item…only chicken, pork, beef and egg. We chose our favourite dish Omlete,Rice, Daal and local saag+tarkari every time we got chance to have suffer having Rice as main item. Actually Bhutanese people add Thigye in every dishes and that particular smell resist our system to have various foodie item of Bhutan.



Thingye


We have our breakfast in a local restaurant and then headed towards Thimphu immigration office for obtaining restricted area permit.

Thimphu immigration office
Thimphu Immigration office

Actually we have planned to go at Punakha and Haa valey which falls under restricted areas in Bhutan. Permit we got from Phuentsholing is to roam at Thimphu and Paro only. We have submitted all our documents and got our receipt time after 12:30 PM…in the meantime we touched our milestone at Buddha point, normally called Buddha Dordenma point, a place where a 52 metre hieght Buddha with park. Place is awesome. it actually located at the top of a hill. There is a big space/field infront of the statue where anybody can sit and meditate. But we roam here and there at that place clicking picture of nearby snow filled mountains and also the vast Thimphu valley just seen below the mountain. From Thimphu you can see that Buddha Dordenma statue from every corner. We came down after passing 2 hours at that holy place. In between the road, we stopped and snapped the beauty of Thimphu city.


.



view of entire Thimphu city from Buddha point


Buddha point


we 4


Lord Buddha


In Bhutan we saw a number of “Dzongs”. Here Dzong is a type of fortress architecture found in the present and former Tibetan Buddhist kingdoms of the Himalayas, particularly Bhutan and South Tibet. The structure is massive in style with towering huge exterior walls surrounding a complex of courtyards, temples, administrative offices, and monks' accommodation. Dzongs serve as the religious, military, administrative, and social centers of their district. They are often the site of an annual tsechu or religious festival. The rooms inside the dzong are typically allocated half to administrative, and half to religious function, primarily the temple and housing for monks. We saw Tashichho Dzong at Thimphu while roaming. There are other Dzong but we don't spent time on these buildings.

at vehicle immigration office


flowers that covers thimphu city


Thimphu city from a hill point


Thimphu city highway


smooth road leads to Kings Palace


moving towards Punakha Highway


green green everywhere





Busy Highway


claer sky and clear road


Punakha road...zig zag road started


clipping ...while we are on move
Thimphu Dochula (Punakha) route


At 12 PM we visited again Thimphu Immigration center for collecting our passes and then we headed towards vehicle department office for our vehicle immigration. We completed our total permit at 1:30 at started our journey for Dochula Pass. I cannot forget that taxi driver who without any interest drove near about 5 kms for us at Thimphu and showed the route to Punakha! Salute to that man for his kind humanity. Dochula pass is located on the way to Punakha from Thimphu. The pass is a popular location among tourists as it offers a stunning 360 degree panoramic view of Himalayan mountain range. The view is especially scenic on clear, winter days with snowcapped mountains forming a majestic backdrop to the tranquility of the 108 Buddha statue or simply chortens in Bhutanese language gracing the mountain pass. The roads from Thimphu to Punakha are dusty and jig jags. We enjoyed our drive with another adventitious ride into those mountains. We were hungry at that time as we forgot to take our lunch that day. But we ate apples offered by local girls who sat at the road for selling. The apples were awesome and we brought 8 big sized apples for only 20 Nu!!! And that 20 Nu we have to forcefully give money to those girls as they were not willing to take any money from us. We also visited Druk Wangyal Lhakhang just opposite to Dochula. Here Lhakhang is temple in Bhutanese. We did photo session outside the temple area as thetemple was closed. There was two binoculars at the temple for viewing the surrounded snow-covered mountains.

dusty roads near Dochula


Dochula pass


Dochula


Monks of Dochula carved at every 108 temples


Druk Wangyal Lhakhang


view from Druk Wangyal Lhakhang


druk wangyal temple...outer part


taking rest at druk temple


 After passing 1 hour we again geared up for our next destination i.e. Paro. Dochula to paro distance is 66 kms which bypasses Thimphu and touches Semtokha, Sakenang Chuzom (the diversion point), then towards Paro.

Dochula to Paro route

From Thimphu we were guided by Wang river but from Chuzom we were guided by beautiful Paro Chuu. Paro is a town  in the Paro Valley of Bhutan. 

Thimphu Paro highway


It is home to Paro Airport, Bhutan's only international airport. 

Flight landing at Paro Airport...snapshot from mobile video 




Paro Airport has been described as "the most difficult commercial airport in the world”, the airport has only one runway. The highway was so smooth that we were at 80-100kmph. As the population is less in Bhutan we got very few traffic there. Traffic jam is not a nightmare for Bhutanese. We reached Paro at 4PM. Before entering we calculated our day of stay and transit and found that visiting Che le la Pass is somehow tough as we have only one day left for stay. We did toss and finally we headed towards Che Le la pass……I want to share my experience in another blog of mine because trip to Che Le La pass is horrible and terrifying.  Che Le La pass is the highest motorable road in Bhutan and is at 14500 ft. We came back from che le la pass and halted at Namgay Hotel and Bar (+7517686041/+7517786002). Hotel room was moderate but we were pleased at their service. Bhutanese males (family member) mainly work in the field or do job, whereas female person do all sort of household work. In the point of all sort of works attraction of female dominance is seen. In Bhutan, most of the house were made up with restaurant and bar at the ground floor. And the walls of the restaurant were full Buddhist scripture and Photos of Bhutanese King and his ancestors.






wall posters

We have our dinner ….Steam rice with beautiful aroma, double egg omelets and musur daal.






Day 4-  Today our plan is to visit Taktsang Lhakhang.Taktsang Palphug Monastery or Tiger Nest Monastery is the popular name. The Tiger Nest Monastery is one of the most famous touristic destinations of the country and the cultural icon of Bhutan. Visiting the Paro Taktsang Monastery is an unforgettable experience thanks to its unique location and the views of surrounding majestic mountains and emerald green valleys.




Paro to Tiger nest route highway 
view from our Paro hotel balcony


way to Taktsang


the mountain on my back....you can find the monastery


Taktsang out there



The main peculiarity of the monastery is its isolated location. It is only accessible by mountainous paths.
The remote location of the monastery makes it amazingly beautiful and unique, but also creates technical difficulties. No wonder, that when you are looking at the Taktsang Palphug monastery from Paro valley or from the bottom of the cliff, it seems almost impossible to reach the Monastery. The refined architectural appearance of the Monastery is shaped in the best traditions of Buddhist. The complex has white buildings with golden roofs. Paro Taktsang Monastery consists of the 4 main temples and several dwellings.
All buildings are interconnected by staircases with steps carved into the rock. Almost every single buildings of the monastery complex have a balcony with a breathtaking view of the surrounding area. The main shrine of the monastery -the prayer wheel is located in the courtyard of the temple. Every morning at 4 a.m. it is being rotated by monks to mark the beginning of a new day.
The interior design of the temple impresses with its luxurious beauty: gold-plated dome and flickering lights that are illuminating golden idols. In the hall of Thousand Buddhas, which is carved into the rock, a large statue of a tiger is located. The tiger is respected as the symbol of Paro Taktsang because of the legend, according to which the location of the Monastery was chosen by a tigress. The tigress brought here on her back the founder of Bhutan’s Buddhism guru Padmasmabhava.
There are eight caves in the monastery; four of them are comparatively easy to access. The cave where Padmasmabhava is believed to have entered first, on the back of the tiger, is known as “Tholu Phuk” cave and the one where he meditates is known as the “Pel Phuk”. Monks of the monastery are supposed to live and meditate in these caves for 3 years. They rarely visit the adjacent Paro valley.
In fact, there are three paths leading to the holy place.
The first path is a trail passing through the pine forest and decorated with bright, prayer bannerettes symbolizing protection from evil forces, positive energy, vitality and good luck.



at the edge...uri baba...

horse riding





The other two paths are passing through the plateau, called "a hundred thousand fairies’ plateau."

We reached through bike to the base from where the actual trek starts. The trek is divided into three part. First one anyone can hire a horse and climb upto cafeteria. And we did the same by hiring horse @ 600 Nu per head. The adventure of horse riding is shocking for us as the horses were walking through the corner of the hills and if accidentally you see the beneath scenery, you will get frightened. Horse riding take 1.5 hours and land us to a area where two small paths divided…one goes to cafeteria and goes directly to Taktsang. We took rest on that area and snap numerous photos.




place where horse left us!!!


view from cafeteria


We saw that the time was about 1PM and its will be better to visit Taktsag first and then after while climbing down we will take the lunch. And we started towards Taktsang. The narrow paths, sometimes very high some time low…but we felt the air goes lighter as the oxygen goess thinner. Our rate of footsteps decreases and we started gasping. I frequently took rest, sometimes lie down at the ground. Kuch Parwana nehi…by hook and crook I have to reach the top. This was my motto. Finally we completed the second part of the trekking and reached a place from where Taktsang was near or simply locals call it view point. We took rest there and did photosession. The 3rd part of the trek is of stairs. Local people told us there were 900 stairs to the Taktsang Monastery. Hearing it I started avoiding repeating these words as because these lose my confidence. 







photo session at view point
Paro Taktsang from view point


The stairs gap was big big and it is very tough to step quickly into those. Finally we reached the security point of the temple.



just few stairs left


another temple opposite Taktsang


last minute photos before submitting camera at secuirity check point


non-parallel stairs
reached finally


not so far




We submitted all our belongings into a lock and key enabled chamber, and started to climb towards temple. The temple having very Big sized Lord Buddha and Bhutanese God. I felt the calmness of silence and peace of the place. I can understand why the Bhutanese people were so calm and polite and disciplined. The place really digs its place in my heart. Now also whenever I remember about Paro Taktsang, I feel my presence into one of that temple of Taktsang.
We started moving from one temple to another. Every temple is attached with staircase. We stepped into butter lamp temple where we felt the warmness of butter lamp at that room. Then we stepped down the place/temple where Padmasmabhava meditated for 3 years. The place of fully dark and inside a cave, one has to step down through wooden stairs and pass through the rock touching the ice cold rocks. The passage is very narrow and very cold. While climbing down the wooden stairs all we became blind for a instance. But slowly the butter lamp (where the Monk meditates) guided the paths. Amazing experience which I cannot express through words. One has to come here and feel the environment. We stayed there till 4:00PM and move towards cafeteria. We were hungry now as we have found that we missed our lunch. But we each had at least 1.2 liter of tea with at least 20 biscuits offered at that cafeteria. That was our Taktsang lunch for 1000Nu(total). We 3 i.e. I, Rahut and Biltu then came down but this time through the forest and …we lost the actual path (where our bike was), Tonmoy chose the walking route and he reached earlier and waited for us. We crossed one mountain and reached on another side of the hill.



bye bye Taktsang


lost at forest


By this time rain started and we hurried up. On the way I saw many prayer wheels near every huts run by flowing of mountain water.


pray wheels run by flowing water coming from hii


We reached Paro at nearly 8:30 and we were heavily soaked from rain. Terrific situation we faced that evening while coming down from Taktsang.
Hotel aunty served us local made brandy of 10Nu per glass which kept us from shivering and cold at that moment. By the meantime Rahut managed of taking the kitchen and made delicious Omlet curry, Aalu bharta, Daal and steam rice. We have our dinner and slept tight.

dish prepared by debabrata


Day 5 – Time to move down. We bought souvenirs from local market. Believe me…every item was costly if you compare them with India market. The funny thing is that the Bhutanese people never gets angry of bargaining. I have a terrific experience at Hong Kong! We visited Paro Dzong.

Paro market....far...snowy mountain


its time to go


in front of our hotel at Paro


view from our Hotel balcony at Paro


Paro Dzong


Paro Dzong ...and Paro chuu


Paro chuu


goodbye Paro



We saved the Paro beauty in our mobile/camera. All far mountains were covered with snow and that day was very cold while driving…we felt. We moved downwards and have our lunch at Chuckkha. We reached Phuentsholing and submitted our immigration papers. Later we reached Siliguri at 9:30 PM. And on Day 6 we reached Balurghat.
The memories of Bhutan will be with us forever…
I will step at Paro again…
!!! MISS U BHUTAN !!!




View from Hotel Paro
Paro Dzong
Paro
masti on the road
fully covered and protected
miss U Paro
never say goodbye friend
lunch at Chaapcha
rolling sceneries








more areas to cover next...



 References and External links :- 



https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bhutan

http://www.tourism.gov.bt/

www.kingdomofbhutan.com/

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